Press Conference

Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference, Oct. 14, 2014

Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased.

Opening statement

Alright, just to quickly touch on the pulse of the team right now because morale is low. We have had two good training sessions today; maybe somewhat because of the pressure is off, a lot of good play by the goal today. Again, the guys are devastated. They feel like they let the fans down — we all feel that way. Had a good talk with them. We broke down the tape of the Columbus game, as hard as that was, and went through it this morning. The thing that doesn’t change is the guys are crushed. You think about different plays that could have been made and different things that could have been done to prevent it — you talk through that, you have to find a way to learn from it and focus the group about the positives of the past 21 games.We sit 10-5-6 in our last 21 games. This is a positive and we’re trying to draw from that.

I think as the lights got brighter in these bigger games, these pressure moments, and the team gets scrutinized a little more and every play matters a little more, we came up a little short across the board. A tie now feel like a loss and those things start to get on the guys. They have to learn from it. I encouraged them, as hard as it is, to watch the playoffs, watch what those games look like because if they think there’s pressure in the games we just played, it gets ramped up to a whole other level. When you look on the field, not a lot of guys have played in those playoff-type games. Conor’s played in several, Seba’s played in several, but other than that, there’s nobody that has more than two, and a lot of guys have zero. So, again, for them to learn from the past 21 games we’ve had and then now learn and watch the playoffs, what those games look like, as hard as it may be. That’s our goal for next season, we have to be in the playoffs.

How hard has it been for you?

I would say, you know, I’m a young coach, but I don’t think I’ll have two more devastating what feel like losses in a row in my career. I will try my best to prevent that. Those were difficult to swallow. The one against Chicago, fight hard to get up 1-0 and then guys make a couple of bad decisions and we play backwards — and we learn from it. The Columbus one was harder, to be honest. To collapse and give up three goals is inexcusable. We’ve talked about that, and the guys know that and they’re crushed, they’re devastated. But, again, you have to find a way to learn from it, you have to pick yourself up and look forward to 2015, and get things right.

On Saturday’s lineup against Kansas City

I’ll always be a guy who will play young players, I’ll play old players — I’ll play the best team. There’ll be guys that’ll maybe be not — Seba’s got an ankle injury, so there might be a spot that opens up, but I’m going to play the best team. I’m not going to, this isn’t a charity — this is pro sports. So, again, we’re going to put the  best team on the field, keep the integrity of the playoff race alive because there are still teams fighting for seeds. I’m not going to just throw out all the sudden all these guys just because the season’s over. I still believe in playing the guys who earn it during the week in practice.

On the decision to bring in Danny Cruz late in the game against Columbus and pushing Sebastien Le Toux to target forward

Danny was a guy who’s been sharp in training. When you ask him, you know what you’re going to get with Danny every time — he gives a hundred percent effort. For him to come in and change the game and get us the first goal to get us going was a positive.

The thinking was to put Seba up there and maybe threaten to get behind a little bit more and stretch Columbus a little bit. Worked out well, we got the first goal and worked hard to get the second goal and then, well, you all know what happened after that: something that should never happen.

Did you like Le Toux in that position?

Yeah, it’s a good spot for him. He likes to play play between the center backs, he likes to get in behind — it’s a spot he’s comfortable with and a spot I like him at. With our personnel when we first took over, I think we wanted to play to strengths and having Conor up there and Seba running off was a strength that I think worked out as well. But it’s an option to have Seba play in the (?) spot because he can run forever, he can pressure a little differently. And with Columbus trying to pass out of the back, we though it was a good switch.

On Le Toux’s injury, same ankle that was injured a few weeks ago?

Yeah, same ankle. I give him credit for pushing through and playing, and giving us everything he had. He had to ask to come out toward the end of the game, it was tightening up on him, but he gave everything he had. I think it’s still bothering him a little bit. We’ll see if he’s still possibly available for this weekend.

Any other injuries on the team?

Injury wise, everybody should be available, other than Seba’s got the questionable ankle. Conor still has his battle with some knee issues, but it’s nothing structural or anything like that so, we’ll see.

On Conor Casey, who was was in good goal-scoring form in the summer before cooling off down the stretch

Conor’s a guy who when he gets good looks in front of goal, he buries them. I think he had a great run in the summer and he’s a guy who carried us. We kind of got on his back and rode with him. Towards the end, we didn’t get him the service — it’s a combination of things: even sometimes when he did get good looks he’d be the first to tell you he missed a few that he would like. He’s hard on himself. Goalscorer’s, that’s the way it runs, it runs hot and cold sometimes. But again, he’s a guy I believe in, a guy that I’m very close with, and a guy that I trust and is a great forward in this league.

With Amobi Okugo being out of contract, what’s his future with the club?

He’s a professional. Amobi’s a guy that’s been here from the start, he’s a fan favorite. He’s a guy that has aspirations to play in Europe, and we’ll see how that goes in the off season, if he wants to explore that option, that’s an option. But, yeah, those are some discussions that will happen toward the end of the year. But, again, a very good player that aspires to play in Europe, so we’ll see how that goes.

On Kansas City

Peter Vermes has done a heck of a job. They’re a club that is a very upper echelon one in our league right now. They’re a top team, they’re defending champs. It’s a straight 4-3-3, you know what you’re getting with them, they play the same way every game, whether they’re missing three and four guys or whether they have they’re full corps of guys available. They are a team that pressures you, they come at you; they obviously have talented players who can pull a play off in a Graham Zusi or a Benny Feilhaber, guys who are having really good years for them. And then they keep it tight at the back, that’s kind of been their mantra and that’s how they win games.

We’ve had some success against them this year, which has been good — we won at their place and then had a draw, so the goes do have confidence that they can go toe-to-toe with them. We’ll put a team…

(audio cuts out before resuming in the middle of the next question)

On Pedro Ribeiro

Pedro’s a very good young player, he has a presence about him, he’s good around the goal, he’s a big guy. He can play multiple spots, he can play underneath the target forward, he can play the 10. You know we’ve used him primarily as a target to replace Conor, just kind of in the like-for-like situations. He’s a guy who we’re still figuring out his best spot in MLS, but he has the quality that you can see: very good in possession, can make a final pass, he can strike a ball pretty well. So, we’re happy with Pedro.


  1. Again the Union are fooling NO ONE. We know that Curtin is the signed, sealed, and delivered manager. Just more Sakiewicz BS. Dog and Pony show! Curtin needs to find one of those manager seminars (EPL) . He really needs to learn about substitution to close out games.

  2. I’m sorry, but i don’t think we are watching the same Ribeiro on the weekends, Jim.

  3. On Kansas City: “It’s a straight 4-3-3, you know what you’re getting with them, they play the same way every game, whether they’re missing three and four guys or whether they have they’re full corps of guys available”
    OK, so you see systemic consistency is important, then WHY DON’T WE HAVE IT!!!!

    • Because Sporting has spent years acquiring players to fit their system, and not acquiring players who didn’t. It’s that last part that still eludes Nick Sak.

  4. I think it is safe to say that Curtin is learning on the job. He’d probably be the first to admit it. The question is should Curtin be given the job full-time? It is difficult to admit now based on recent results but keeping Curtin might be in the best long-term interests of the club. Similarly, DC keep faith with their young manager in Ben Olsen and it has paid off for them this year. NE kept faith with Jay Heaps, after his rocky start, and now they are in the play-offs for the second year in a row. We all clamor for the the team to play the “home-grown” players well now we have a “home-grown” manager. Let’s show some patience and see what he does with a full year in charge.

  5. I’m done being angry with Curtin. He made a mistake and unfortunately did so with no margin for error.
    If you look at how he’s done this year, he’s recorded a 7-3-6 record in half the games the Union has played. The fact that this club was being talked about as a playoff contender after going 2-8-6 under Hackworth is remarkable. If the team kept it’s Curtin pace since day 1, it was aiming for a record of 14-6-12 record right now and 54 points, which would be 2nd place right now.
    Also, Dan brought up Olsen with DC, who last year went 3-24-7. This year his club is in first place. Another former MLS player Jay Heaps had a rough start, too, finishing 9-8-17 in 2012, his first year. Curtin arguably has had a more successful year than two managers who have clubs in what looks like pretty good shape going into the playoffs. I think patience with Curtin could very well be rewarded and in a big way.
    So, if you can shake off the recent sting, and look at the whole record for Curtin, it looks quite good, especially against the records other first time managers and former MLS players have accomplished. What he needs is a better roster. And with NYCFC and Orlando in the east next year, we’re going to need a substantial infusion of good players up top and on the back line. I think getting frustrated or mad at Curtin is a waste of energy. Curtin’s inexperience is the least of this team’s problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *