Postgame: Union 1-0 Toronto

Photo and video: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Postgame interviews with Andrew Wenger, Sebastien Le Toux and Maurice Edu

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Interim Team Manager Jim Curtin

Opening Statement

Good teams win 1-0 games and that’s what we did tonight. I didn’t want to throw this out earlier in the week because it would probably depress the guys but it was our first shutout since Chivas USA in a league game. It’s been a while. We talked all week internally about getting four more points from Toronto. We’re on a good pace for that. We can’t just split with them because that gets us nowhere. We can’t just split 3-3. We need to go to Toronto now and take points there. That becomes the focus. I’m very proud of the group, proud of our guys. I’m a big believer in “you are what your record says you are.” Our guys and my staff have done a great job putting together a good record. I believe its 9-2-3 now. We’re happy with that. There’s confidence in the group. Was tonight perfect? No. We could’ve created more chances. We fouled up a lot of 3-2 and 4-3s but at the end of the day we kept it zero. Our defense was great, Zac MacMath was very good. I was very happy with the overall team performance. Again, were a team that doesn’t talk a lot in the press and run our mouths a lot. We do our talking on the field and that was a message before the game. It’s a good group that way. We don’t say a lot publicly about how good we are or about how great we are playing. We are just focused on right now doing our talking on the field.

On earning the 1-0 win

It’s never easy in MLS games. There’s always craziness, always red cards, especially in this stadium for some reason. There’s always red cards, penalty kicks and scrambles in the end. I like 1-0 games. It means your team is organized, you took a chance and you scored a goal and then you were able to hold on. And that’s what we did here. This is what playoff games look like; it’s what it felt like. It’s never going to be easy the rest of the way. We kind of had the advantage now playing what it seems like the Open Cup and now between the season and playing in playoff like games. We have no margin for error, we can’t lose, we can’t rest, we can’t put our foot off the gas. It’s been positive but yeah I do agree, I hate 4-2 games. I hate anything above 3 goals scored, it drives me nuts as a coach. Again, I like 1-0 games.

On Joe Bendik

Bendik always plays great against us. He’s a very good, young goalkeeper. Against the Union he always makes some real world-class saves. He did a good job tonight but again we were able to put a good play together. Seba gets endline, picks his head up; we were screaming for him to play Andrew who was wide open in the back but he made the right decision. He saw Conor and that’s Conor doing what Conor does.

On not finishing games how you want to

Sometimes it’s ugly. There’s no real nice way to say it. I can sit up here and talk about the beautiful game and again possession, possession, possession and that would sound nice. The reality of our league now is this grind in the Eastern Conference. You have to fight. I have men right now. I have men out there on the field and they are playing like men. They are learning to win. I think we have taken a big step now. Again, a 1-0 game says a lot to me about the character of our group.

On the depth of the Union team right now

We have depth. We’re missing several guys on international duty that are playing international games with their countries right now. For guys to slide in and do the job that they did tonight is impressive. And we talk about having to juggle things. We put Maurice Edu in the backline as a centerback and for me he was excellent tonight. He was one of the best players on the field. It was a good team effort. I think Brian and Okugo broke up a lot of plays and Chaco was able to get a good 68 minutes and you can still see the class he can play a final ball and his service on restarts is something I can’t teach- that’s just all him. He’s a special player. So again, it’s a team effort. Everybody is stepping up. Would you love to have Nogueira healthy? Yes absolutely. Maybe we will get that one for the Open Cup final. We can finally get that one out there with the whole gang healthy and on the field at the same time.

On turning around and playing Toronto on Saturday

It’s strange. There the only team we haven’t played in the league. I think about it now, every team in the league we’ve seen once. There are some very good teams for sure, but we know we can play with anybody. This is the first time we saw Toronto and now were confident enough to know we can play with them. It’s a strange one to turn it around in a couple days here but it’ll be a challenge. Anytime you go on the road in this league, it’s the most difficult thing to do. We know they’ll be short handed a little bit with the red card and they’ll have to juggle some things but they’ll put some really good things on the field and we know it will be a fight at their place.

On Vincent Nogueira’s status

His MRI came back negative. In that regard, it’s no surgery or anything drastic like that. I think it’s a lot of wear and tear from a full year of playing. He hasn’t had a break. I can’t manage that now; I don’t have games to say “Hey take 3 or 4 games off.” He’s a guy that wants to be on the field. It’s kind of a groin but it wraps around to the high hamstring. He feels it when he tries to strike a ball. Is it something that will keep him out long term? I don’t think so. The things I’m getting is positive. Does that mean he’s a sub in Toronto? Maybe. Does that mean he starts in Toronto? I don’t know. We’ll see. We need fresh legs obviously. He will be a pretty good player to throw in your lineup that’s for sure.

On Toronto’s head coaching change

I had a pretty good understanding of Ryan Nelson. I knew Ryan pretty well as a player. We had a lot of battles together. We had an idea of how they played. With Greg tonight, we warned our guys. He’s probably going to put a stamp on this game and try to juggle a few things. There’s always going to be change with a new coach. We also talked about the energy. They brought energy in the first 15 minutes but we survived it and I thought we created some chances. It’s a strange one. I’m not going to sit up here and say I’ve done it before because I’ve never had in terms of preparing for a different change. It’s a similar personal they both have. They key to their groups is Michael Bradley, obviously. He’s a guy I respect a ton. He’s a top player in our league and in the world. He’s a guy that we focused on trying to shut him down and that will continue in Toronto. They missed Jermaine Defoe. We cut a break in that regard. Game planning is difficult for them especially with the injuries they have.

On the playoff push

Our guys are confident. You can see it in the group- their close. It’s a close knit group. They laugh and they’re having fun. They are enjoying things on the field which is important. I’m not a cheesy guy and saying they are all best friends and everything is perfect but there’s a core group of them that hang out together. I think that’s good. After a win you should go out together and have a great time. All the off the field stuff is very positive and it’s translating onto the field. We have good guys and again they are definitely becoming men for sure.

On Sebastien Le Toux’s performance

He was dangerous. He is confident. When Seba’s confident he is tough as anyone to cover. I’ll be the one to start the best eleven conversations with him. If you look statistically and you look at what he’s done, he’s hot right now. If he continues the form that he’s in then he has to be in the discussion for best eleven of our league which is [probably the highest honor you can get. I think he’s playing that well. The ground he covers is unbelievable. He just runs and runs and runs. The pressure that he provides defensively leads to a lot of our chances offensively.

Maurice Edu

On playing defense

Any kind of error is a lot more dangerous because of your positioning, so being tuned in a lot, communicating a lot and being vocal with the guys around you is always vital.

On his demeanor in the back

It just comes from playing in the midfield and from playing this game for so long, naturally I feel pretty comfortable on the ball. And I feel like you can make things a lot easier by communicating…you are playing against quality players and communicating certainly helps minimize the workload.

On playing in Toronto where he got his start

It’s the team that gave me my start and the team that gave me the opportunity to become a professional so I’ll always have a lot of love for that team and that organization, just a tremendous amount of respect for them. If both teams make the playoffs that’d be great, but if it’s [the Union] that edges them out, well hey…

Andrew Wenger

On importance of him getting valuable minutes in big games

Anytime you can play back to back games, it brings about a tremendous amount of confidence. It’s contagious at the moment too, because there are so many guys that are playing well and the team as a whole is playing really well.

On Toronto FC

They gave us a good game tonight. We did well to score a goal and defended well all night. Really the credit goes to the back four for getting in there and getting a shutout. We get another three points that puts us in great position going into a tough week.

On the depth of the Union

Guys are coming in and doing the job and it’s really great to see us all clamor down and go after it especially in this stage of the game. Guys are playing well and it’s really important down this crucial stretch.

Zac MacMath

On getting a shutout at home and depth at defense

It’s big time. Going into this final stretch it’s important that we have some depth and confidence; hopefully we can continue to put together defensive efforts like we did tonight and continue to be successful.

On what he noticed about TFC that will help him on Saturday

That they are very direct; obviously Michael [Bradley] is there engine he’s a guy that wants the ball, wants to be in control and wants to score. It’s important that we do a good job of taking care of Michael. If we can do that we give ourselves a really good chance of getting another win on Saturday.

Sebastien Le Toux

With grabbing three points are you beginning to think playoffs

We try to just go one game at a time right now we are focused on that especially when we play at home like tonight, we know we need the win. We have a lot of games at home to finish the season so if we can take care of these games at home we should be in the playoffs. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.

On playing Toronto in Toronto now

I think we can go up there and get a result. They are a good team as they showed tonight; but we just need to rest well and make sure that we bring a good game on Saturday. The belief tonight was that we needed to win and we did so now we move on to Saturday.

On having to play the same team a few days in between

It’s different, but it’s good for us since we won the first game we kind of know what to expect and so maybe we are coming in with a bit more confidence than them. We stand on two wins [in MLS] and they stand on two defeats, so we need to go in there looking at minimum for a tie, but we are going after a win. We always play to win and so right now we need to take that into the next game and do our best to win it.

Toronto FC postgame quotes

Head coach Greg Vanney

On trying to get the ball into the final third

I mean the idea of that was because we knew they would drop off because they like to play on the counter. So it was more that we needed to be a little bit more competent in that half of the field so that we wanted to work on getting with the re-press and trying not to let them out of their half. Because when they get out, they come and they’re very committed and they run hard. Obviously that’s where the game from. So any time a team counters like that, then you want to be able to stop the counter at the point of the counter. You don’t want to deal with it in your half of the field. In terms of the halves, in the second half I thought we got a little bit better in terms of our shape and using space in our side of the field. Positioning ourselves so they had to make some decisions defensively. In the first half, we didn’t make them make any decisions based on our positioning. We did a better job in the second half, which allowed us slightly more possession and maybe slightly fewer counter attacks against us. And it led to some chances. We got ourselves into some good spots. Gilberto had a great look from about 8 to 10 yards out. MacMath came up with a good save. We had a few times where had some high starting spots on us and Oduro got in once. The starting spots were so high, he was able to deal with us when we thought maybe we were through. He dealt with Luke Moore there at the end when he was off his line. We got ourselves into some good positions. Was it the overall performance we were looking for? Not exactly. But the guys worked their socks off the entire match. Even a man down, we created some problems for them. We got to turn it around over the next few days and turn some things around.

On the options on the attack

There’s a load of options and even one that is not with us. So there’s a lot of options with this group. In the end we were down 1-0, so I mean we could bring more defenders on and play it to win 1-0. Or we could bring some attacking players on and try to get the ball forward and put the backline under pressure to see if we could nick a goal and to take a point away. Bringing on Bright [Dike] and Andrew [Wiedeman], they’re attacking-minded players. But with Andrew, he’s a workhorse too, so he can get up and down the line. We had switched to three in the back so we needed somebody on the outside that had fresh legs that could get up and down and help us defensively, but also help us out offensively.

On Oduro moving back to the midfield after halftime

Jonathan’s (Osorio) nurturing some stuff now and we’ll see how he’s doing. He’ll be reevaluated in a few days. With Gilberto, we wanted him to get on the field and we dind’t think we had 90 minutes in him today because of his calf tightness. But he looked strong yesterday and we thought we could get something out of them. And I thought Dom gave them some troubles on the flank too.

On last 42-78 hours for himself

They’ve been a whirlwind. Everything has gone really fast with the quick turnaround like this. There’s really only so much that we accomplished in terms of tactics in this match. We really tried to focus primarily on Philadelphia and how we wanted to approach the match. But at the same time, I wanted to drive and give the team some confidence to be more attacking and create more chances. I’m proud of that through all of that difficulty, they worked hard today, even with the man down. It’s been an emotional week for everyone. No matter what you think, it’s always an emotional week and they put in a great effort.

On how tough it is to play same team in four days

It kind of has a playoff feel to it because it’s similar what we hope to see — and plan to see in the near future. We also just played a few days ago and they had the weekend off. So clearly there’s some energy that they have and we’re working on reserves maybe.

On the slow start

It wasn’t so much an energy thing. It was more that when we got the ball forward, and trying to put them under pressure, they were able to find ways out of it. But we spent a fair amount of time trying to recover on the counterattack. We weren’t able to win balls where we wanted to win balls. So we end up chasing a little bit. We expended a lot of energy chasing back on counterattacks. Our spacing didn’t allow us enough possession.

Collen Warner

On the result

It’s a tough one to take for us. We obviously wanted to get a point coming in here. It seems were in a bit of a slump, but it’s not something that isn’t expected. It’s a long season and we’re facing a lot of injuries at the moment. That’s what I take away from it, but we’re still fighting through all this. It’s the way it works and we’re waiting to catch our break.

On the coaching change

We got a great group of guys and everyone realizes that this is a good time. When we step on the field, we only want to put our best out. And I think the guys gave that. We wanted to put on the field what the coach wanted from us.

On facing the same team four days from now

I think it might be good for us. They probably won’t change their tactics, even more so as a counter attacking team. So we can really fix our mistakes and capitalize on what they give us.

Michael Bradley

On possible conversations of the players about the recent coaching change

Sure there’s constantly conversation that goes on amongst the players. This is a good group that comes everyday ready to challenge each other. Each guy is ready to give everything for the sake of the group. When you go through a tough time, it’s normal to have conversations amongst ourselves. In a big game tonight, the effort and the commitment and the energy was all there.

On his resiliency and that of the rest of his team

Absolutely. You can talk all you want about being committed and being mentally strong and being a fighter. But, just talking about it doesn’t prove anything. It’s in tough moments when true character of a person and a team comes out. We’re being put to that test right now and when you look around the room, it’s an entire team of guys ready to step up.

On the shape of the second half, and if Philadelphia should be weary of that for the return game

It’s normal that given what’s happened over the last few days that the in the first half on the road, that tactically, all the details weren’t perfect. But I thought the second half was good. Even going down a guy, we were still able to press and try to get that equalizer. But it didn’t come today. When you look at the table, though, there’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. But we’re right in the thick of it.


  1. Yo Curtin’s pressers are so on point. “We don’t run our mouth…I have men out there on the field…” I love it. Hard fought win, let’s see it again up in Toronto.

  2. I like 4-2 games.

  3. JC admits Noguiera ‘ s injury is partially wear & tear, but he can’t give him 3 or 4 games to recover. It sounds like he’s not expected until the Cup final. Why did JC start him against Harrisburg last week?

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