Postgame video and quote sheet: Union 1-1 Fire

Photo and video: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Postgame interviews with Rais Mbolhi, Antoine Hoppenot, Danny Cruz and Amobi Okugo

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Jim Curtin

Opening Statement

Obviously, not the result we needed tonight. Credit to Chicago, they were tough to play against all night. We didn’t create a lot — and neither did they, to be honest. Finally breakthrough toward the end of the game, 89th minute, and aren’t able to hold on. Before we get to their goal, there’s five or six plays where guys could make different decisions; we should never be playing backwards at that point in the game. Again, a lot of mistakes on that one. We should be able to close out a game when you’re up 1-0 in the 89th at home. Unacceptable.

On what he saw on the Chicago goal

We played three passes backwards. It’s from our free kick to now us picking it up out of our own goal. You’re taught a very young age at the end of games where to play the ball: You play it forward and if it goes out of bounds a hundred yards from your own goal, that’s fine. What happened was a series of mistakes by a lot of different guys. It’s sickening. That’s kind of the way I feel right now.

On the roster selection with spedier options on the bench

Who’s the speedy options?

Cruz, Hoppenot…

There’s discussions about selections. There are different things you can do. There’s a hundred different ways we could’ve done it. Obviously, you take heat when you don’t get a result. So, yeah, good question.

Were Conor and Sheanon hurt?

Yeah, they’re injured, unfortunately, yes. Conor has tendonitis in his knee, Shea has a quad issue going on. Not good timing.

Accessing Fred, Pedro and Brian

They did okay. They’re young forwards, so they’re learning. It’s never going to be perfect with them, they’ll make some good plays, they’ll make some not so good plays. So, yeah, ok, I guess; not good enough for a victory. All the guys in the locker room are disappointed that we didn’t get a win. We’re in the hole.

Lack of energy

It’s a little combination of things. Chicago puts a lot of guys behind the ball and they do a good job of that. They’re tough to break down; that’s the reason why they have 17 ties now. So, again, not good enough from us, not good enough from the staff, not good enough for the players, and here we sit.

Seeing Rais after the game

I didn’t, I didn’t get to speak to him yet. I’ll kind of leave him, leave him be.

Given the resources the team put in to bringing Mbolhi to the team, was it surprising to see that play?

Yeah, it’s a mistake. He knows, I’m sure he knows it’s a mistake that he probably would’ve rather put his foot through and have it go out of bounds out of bounds, and you can start over, at least regroup. He kind of miss-kicks it, hits it a little short. And so, he picks it up and Earnshaw does what ­Earnshaw does, he prays on the mistakes. He still has a lot of work to do on the finish and he does well with it. But, yeah, a goal that should’ve never happened.

Keeping morale high

It’s difficult. It’s not in our hands anymore, that’s for sure. We’re going to need a miracle, more or less. You’re going to have to win your last three and then you’re going to also need a lot of help. After we scored, after Amobi gets the goal, you feel high, you feel like you have a chance even though that wasn’t our best night. And then to have that happen, it’s tough for the guys. Sickening is the word that kind of everybody feels right now. It’s tough.

Bringing Harrisburg loanees in

I think we did that with Antoine. Christian and Jimmy have to make the 18 before they get in the first team; I mean, that should be obvious, I guess. But, yeah, Antoine got a chance tonight. I thought he caused problems. But, we have some guys that are out and some guys came in and did a good job for us. Obviously, we came up short.

Not holding a lead late in the game

If you go back to Houston, I thought we had a chance to steal that at home. This one, again, we had it in our hands and we let it slip away. I’m going to be upset about it for a long time. I don’t get why we didn’t just play a ball forward. We’re not really a possession team as it is anyway so, again, to start passing it around at the point in the game, a game where Chicago doesn’t threaten too much, is a mistake and it’s going to be a critical mistake now.

Rais Mbolhi

On the goal

Mistakes happen. It’s not the first one it’s not the last one, you know? I know how to handle these kinds of situations, but I will admit it’s hard for me tonight.

On leaving points on the table

I know we needed the three points tonight, unfortunately I made the mistake in the back. Like I said, it’s very hard for me tonight, but this is football. Mistakes happen all the time, but hopeful we can battle back and win the next game.

Danny Cruz

On the cross into Okugo

We worked hard all week and [coach Jim Curtin] talked about getting numbers in the box and playing balls in wide and as you saw our center midfielder [Amobi Okugo] made a nice run and finished it off. Obviously, it doesn’t really matter now as we came up short, but that was what was stressed and it happened to work on that play.

On the match overall

We’ve put ourselves in a big hole and now we have to find a way to dig out of it. I haven’t felt like this for a long time after a game and to be honest, it’s hard to put into words, you go from such a high [following Okugo’s goal] to really the lowest of lows. We knew what was at stake for us and our fans and a series of errors cost us the game. Now unfortunately, we are on the outside looking in.

On moving forward

We get back to work on Monday and we play two teams that are in front of us. We have to take care of what we can take care of and hope for the best. You never know what can happen in this league.

Amobi Okugo

On coming up short despite the effort

It’s tough, you know we fought 90 minutes strong and we didn’t get the three points. You have to sacrifice your body for the team and I feel like a lot of guys did that tonight, but I was fortunate to get a goal and help the team out as a defensive player.

On moving forward in playoff chase

We need to keep raising the level [of play]. We don’t really control our own destiny anymore, but if we take care of business we at least continue to put the pressure on the teams in front of us and anything can happen at that point.

On keeping an eye on results around the league

I’ll watch them, but I’m not sitting there wishing for results. We have to take care of business on our end and hope things shake out.

Ray Gaddis

On feeling after match tonight

It is so frustrating because you work so hard during the duration of the game, but at the end of the day we are still a team that has to go out and take care of our business.

On next three matches

All of them are must wins. All of them; the Columbus series is a must-win, and Kansas City we have to win. Tonight’s game was physical and it felt like a playoff game and all of these matches coming up are going to be the same way. [Chicago] was trying to play spoiler and we had the role of determining our own fate. This is a learning experience. Soccer is a fickle game, sometimes you get the bounce and sometimes you don’t.

Chicago Fire postgame quotes

Frank Yallop

Overall thoughts on the game

I think that the game itself wasn’t a particularly great game. Both sides felt a little bit cagey until the second half. We weren’t very good in the final third for us. But I thought Philadelphia had some good chances. We’re just happy to get the tie. But we found a way to come back into the game and get something out of it. We could play better and do all these things, but we’re finding ways to at least get a point. But we can’t find a way to win a game. And that’s a little bit disappointing.

On Philadelphia’s early pressure

I thought the situation they’re in — and we’re in — I felt Philly was going to push us. They weren’t going to sit back and see what happens at home. We didn’t expect that. I expected them to do what they did. I thought we handled it quite well, especially in the first half. I don’t think we played very well; we didn’t move the ball, we didn’t create any chances. But we hung in there and got a result in the end. I think Philly probably had enough chances to win the game.

On Harrison Shipp’s game

Harry started very well. And then, just because, the rookie sort-of first year blues. He gets tired, a little bit jaded, and his game fades a little bit. So I left him out, he had a little bit of a rest and I think now he’s starting to come back into his own. I’m looking forward to working with Harry over the next couple of years and see how he actually blossoms. I think he’s got a good chance of becoming a very great player. And we’re seeing signs of that now.

If Philly’s lineup changes had any effect

No. I think we picked it pretty good. We had a pretty good idea of who was going to be in just because of guys being out. Conor Casey’s a big player. [Sebastien] Le Toux a huge player for them. Missing Conor and Le Toux — they’re two influential players at this time of the season and you don’t want to be missing those guys. But, you know, we’re missing Mike Magee. It is what it is. And you have to get on with it. I think both teams gave it their all tonight and it was a good effort for us to come back. Again, a little sloppy at times, but I would think it looked pretty entertaining on TV.”.

On the two broken plays that led to goals

Ours was a little bit of a broken play. You know, it was a good finish. [On Amobi’s] Jeff [Larentowicz] is obviously trying to follow the ball and the cross pops down… you know it was a tough one. Broken plays are hard. It falls right to his feet, and he puts it in. But I liked our drive. We got back into it. We create the chance and [Robert Earnshaw] finished it fantastically well. I mean it was a great one. It was not so much out of the blue, but he can do that. I thought ‘why is he going so wide?’ but then I figured it out — he was pulling him in to get him out. He did well. He did very well.

On breaking the MLS tie record

All season, we’ve just been the tie kings, if you like. At this point, with our group, you know, it’s growing and we’ve got to add quality to it next season. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve got a lot of points out of games that maybe we shouldn’t have. I still think in those 17 ties, there was six games that we should have gotten the three points. Not all of them, but some of them. And that makes a difference in the table. I’m not going to say I’m proud of that stat, but if you have 10 wins and 17 ties, you’re rolling. But it isn’t that way. We haven’t won enough games and it shows on the table.

Robert Earnshaw

On his game-tying goal

Well, when we conceded the goal so late, I just thought maybe we’ll have one more chance if we’re lucky. But the way the game was going, you knew it would be hard to come by. But with the goal, I just thought if it’s going to go anywhere, it’s going to go in the middle. So I just tried to position myself where if he was going to miss-kick it, it was going to come to me. It came nice. My first touch was perfect. And the second one, as soon as I took it, I made my mind up — I knew I was going to chip it. Because my second touch was just perfect. It was nice, you know. As soon as I took the second touch, I was thinking ‘Messi’. I really was. Just because, you know, I’ve seen him do it. He’s done it so many times. I’ve done it before, but this time was nice.

On why he took it out wide

I was just concentrating on the first touch because that was key. If I got the first touch right, I could at least get the ball under control and I could run it. But the first touch was perfect, it dropped in front of me and I had the space. As soon as the keeper half come out, I knew he wasn’t going to get there. He’s a very big guy, so I knew it was going to be difficult to get it around him. But I was very confident in getting it over the top of him.

On Chicago’s final push with four games left

Our mindset has been pretty much the same. We’ve just been the same — every game is a must-win for us. It’s just been difficult, you know? We show a never-die attitude, but it just seems like we’re destined to draw. It doesn’t matter what happens or how many chances are in the game, we’re just destined to tie the game. It’s difficult for confidence-wise because when you win one and maybe win two, the confidence shoots right up because you’re getting the results. But when you’re tying, it’s like we’re doing everything but we’re just short. And that’s difficult, but we don’t lose.

Sean Johnson

Overall thoughts on the game

I thought the game was pretty stagnant for the first 85 minutes. You know, it looked like it was going to be a scoreless game and then all of a sudden the last 10 minutes… But I thought we did well to fight back after giving up a goal late. It’s not easy after fighting for so long. So coming out with a tie is nice. I thought it was a fair result in the end.

On what he saw on the goal

Cruz crosses the ball, it pings around and Amobi swings his foot on the other side of the ball and I just didn’t see it until the end.

On staying on his game despite not a lot of shots his way

I mean I’ve been doing this for a few years, so if I can’t keep myself up when there’s a lull in the action, there’s something wrong.


  1. This whole situation with Mbolhi is terrible. Seriously? A crew neck sweater over a collared shirt? That needs to be a v-neck all day, every day.

    • Strom’bolhi’s mistake wouldn’t have mattered if we could finish our shots. Brown killed at least two people in the stands. Maidana botched a sitter.
      Since the Cup final our offense has checked out. Christ, that match was painful.

    • Thank you for giving me something to laugh about after last night. That sweater/collar combo is ridiculous.

  2. Does Frank Yallop actually believe that match ‘looked pretty entertaining on TV’?? Union were terrible, and lets just say that Chicago trying to break the MLS record for most ties didn’t exactly have the national TV audience on the edge of their seats…

  3. Admire Curtin’s class. When the game is tied, he looked straight ahead, jaw jutting. Camera trained on him at least 15 seconds. Crushed, but stoic. He made clear that this wasn’t going to be on his goalie. It was a team loss. No wonder these guys want to play for him. He patiently answered all the questions – except one – he didn’t like his player selection questioned (speed on the bench). I hope he stays. As assistant coach. Unless he can go to a team with a good FO & a bigger payroll.

  4. Curtin appears to becoming stuck on certain players like Hackworth. “Who are the speed options ?” Harrisburg players having to make the 18 as if what’s on the 18 is so much better. The BS is so thick you can gag from it. I realize the JC’S decision making is pretty much hamstrong in goal due to the buffoon (no apologies this time) calling himself a CEO and president but McLaughlin and others not getting minutes because they haven’t made the 18? Compared to who? It’s time to show you’re able to motivate and come up with different scenarios when the heat is on. There is no luxury of a world cup to give you time. You have to have quick decisive plans a,b,and c. The jury is still out. Nothing will improve though until Sakeiwicz steps down. He’s to egomaniacal to put the team first.

    • I guessed that the former player in him doesn’t want to throw the kids into a must win game but he also shows confidence in their ability with “make the 18 first” line. Doesn’t excuse not starting Hoppenot for LeToux then bring on Cruz. Leave Chaco in the middle. Play Wheeler – he can’t make it worse than it already is! Okugo made the biggest statement about Curtin’s biggest mistake. I also wonder about Sak promoting players to the guy applying for the job. A no win. Literally.

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