Postgame video and quotesheet: Union 2-1 KC

Photo and video: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Postgame interviews with Zac MacMath, Andrew Wenger, Jimmy McLaughlin, Amobi Okugo, and Ray Gaddis

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Jim Curtin

Opening Statement

I thought it was a good performance from our guys tonight, ended the season the right way for our fans and for ourselves in a lot of ways. Wanted to put a team on the field that would have another shot at closing out a game, and that came up tonight, we were up 2-1, and the exercise was, “How do we manage things?” We wanted to do it from halftime on — critical moments, and get those right, whether it’s a block in-front of goal, little different things we talked about.

We’re still evaluating guys going into next season, and I felt a lot of guys came up and played well tonight for us. A lot of effort was put in, created some chances, probably could have had a couple more goals. Limited their chances; I think they had no shots on goal in the first half, so we’re proud of that.

Showed some character: They scored the goal and it could have been another situation where everybody puts their heads down. But to our guys credit, I thought they put a lot into it and Pedro got a good goal for us.

So, happy with the group, happy the fans can go home happy in this game. I know we came up short and the focus now, the only word I use around the guys now is playoffs for next year. We’re not going to talk about championships or anything like that, we’re talking about the playoffs in 2015 and that is the goal.

You got seven points off KC this year. You’ve spoken about parity in the league, is that an example of that?

It’s strange, you know, because they’re the champs. They’re a good team, a team that in a lot of ways we’re trying to get like, a team that you know what it’s going to look like: it’s a 4-3-3 every time, no matter whose injured, whose out, whose away with the national team — they look the same every time. They have some very skillful guys that can pull of a play, and then they have a lot role players that do their job very well. Peter Vermes has done a great job with that franchise, {Kansas City assistant coach] Kerry Zavagnin — guys I respect a great deal. Again, in a lot of ways they’re kind of a mirror of what we want to become.

As a young coach working with a lot of young players what have you learned through all these bumps on the road to help close out a game?

You know, I said the last two results here, I might coach for 50 more years and I don’t think I’ll ever —  I hope, knock on wood —  come across a tie and a lose quite like those two in the ways that they happened in big spots and big moments.  You know, [Columbus head coach Greg] Berhalter after that game literally just said, “Sorry” — he didn’t even know what to say, you know? I’m going to throw up thinking about it now but, again, you look back on that one and they had a center back that was standing at midfield and a young kid they were basically conceding the game, against Columbus, and they scored, he pulled those two back and then the scramble. So, I don’t know why in the heck I’m reliving that right now but  — off on a tangent.

With our young guys, and as a young coach, you just try to learn from every moment. There’s so many things that go a long way. Brian Brown is a kid now who, 21 years old, doesn’t have a great first half, but at least sticks with it and gets the goal in the 44th minute. So, again, those are messages where when things get hard, who are the guys who roll their sleeves up, and who are the guys that bail out? I thought tonight we had a lot of guys that stuck with it. Was it perfect? No. We didn’t play a perfect game — had some rust, some bad passes. But from the young players to the old players the mentality [was] to stick to the task and get a result and get a result at home.

On the win

It helps, it’s a relief a little bit. Winning is contagious, you know, it’s a feeling that you have. And I think looking back to summer months when it was going good, you wanted games to come up, you wanted to play every Saturday-Wednesday just because it felt good, we were on a good roll. And then you now have a tough stretch with some draws, some bounces that don’t go your way, the tough Open Cup, and then, you know, you long for those 3 points. And then you finally get them and it’s a bit of a relief for all of our guys. They work so hard — it’s not a lack of effort — it just that sometimes closing out a game is still something we’re learning, we’re a young group, and it’s something to build off tonight, for sure.

It’s your first off-season to look at the roster are you going to revert Pedro back to his normal position or are you going to keep him at forward?

I’m excited for my first full off-season, to be honest, to go through the process of a draft and bring players in. I am excited for that opportunity, if given. And, again, I think I can do it the right way, I know what works in this league.

Pedro is a guy who has been playing, I would say, out of position, he’s not a true forward, he’s not a true No. 9. I think he is better underneath, and he’d be a lot better because he can pass, to have a guy in the attacking spots that can run and stretch the field and get behind, and that gives him more space too by having a speed option up there. So that’s something we’ll look to. Do we sometimes go two forwards with a Casey and a fast guy running off him? Yeah.  But, yeah, I do see Pedro as a guy whose better suited just physically, size-wise  — he’s not the fastest, that’s not a secret, I think you guys probably could tell that — but he is a soccer player: he can make a final pass, he can get a goal, he can shoot from distance, something that we’ve kind of, we’ve lacked, to be honest, a goal scoring midfielder. He can maybe be that. I don’t want to peg him as just a No. 10 type or pigeon hold him one way or the other. But, he can play underneath a forward that can maybe stretch the field a little.

On Brian Brown’s goal

Yeah, that’s a confidence builder. You know, he scored twice against Kansas City, I joked with him and said, “You always score against KC.” He was like, he was kind of confused I think, just because he hasn’t played a ton. But, he’s been good with his minutes that he gets and that’s an example of a guy who, you know, we threw him out there with one of our better lineups and he’s kind of the lone guy, that it was — it was new for him. He came up, he struggled — I’m not going to say he had a perfect game, I yelled at him at halftime, a lot. I said, I don’t care that you scored the goal, there’s a lot more movement, and running, and work, that you have to do defensively and offensively to be an option for guys. He understands that — young player, got to grow. That’s a real team, he’s going against Collin, that’s not going to get much harder: he’s going to kick you, he’s going to grab you, you’re going to have to earn everything against him. If you look at the play, I watched the replay, we actually have our three guys against seven of theirs, and for him to get it wide and than move again and find a spot in front of goal and get a good finish with his right foot was impressive; two left footed guys both made good plays with their right foot on that one. But again, we were out numbered three attackers to seven and Brian makes a play, and that what he kind of does, he scores goal, like we’ve talked about. He didn’t get the chance to do it as much maybe as he would have liked, but I think the future is still good for Brian.

On Cristian Maidana

He’s an important piece. He’s a guy that can change the game, he can obviously make the special play, you can see that. I get on him all the time for a lot of the blind flicks and tell him if you’re going to do those they better come off, and sometimes they still don’t. That can be frustrating but he’s special, he sees the game differently than a lot of players see it. A guy who can make the final pass, actually got a good run in on the goalkeeper, would like to see him finish there — he would say the same. But yeah, I’m happy with Chaco and his performance tonight.

You were talking about the offseason and included an “if given” in there regarding your status with the team. Nick Sakiewicz publicly backed you recently. Is there any timeline in announcing a coaching decision?

Nick and I know, and I think everyone internally knows, and there hasn’t been an announcement yet so, again, I’m just operating as interim coach. I think there’ll be some decisions that are made in the near weeks and we’ll piece it together. Like I said, I’m going to be a part of it one way or the other and we’ll see what happens. I’m eager to get going on the offseason. Obviously, we have Columbus, and we’ll take that one very seriously as well and have the chance to judge guys and see where they stand for next year, who wants to be here and who is kind of maybe on the move. And, again, I do want to be part of that process.

Pedro Ribeiro

On getting his goal

This is something that I have been working a lot on in practice. This is my first year as a forward, so I am trying to get into the box and make things happen. There was good ball played to me in the box and I was fortunate to get my foot on it and put it away.

On physical match up with Sporting KC

A lot of center backs are physical in MLS, like [Aurelien] Collin. He’s a strong guy, their back line was very strong, and we worked in [practice on how to combat that].

On what getting these three points mean

It’s huge for us. It’s good for us, it’s good for our fans. I thought we had another packed house and I was surprised because I knew fans were upset about this season so it was nice to see them all come out. For us to get a win for them in the last game means lot…they were outstanding all year and today was no different.

Brian Brown

Thoughts on the teams in MLS

It’s a pretty good league, lots of good players. There are a lot of physical, strong guys.

On his first season in MLS

I would say it was a very good season, I learned a lot and I feel like I was able to help this team stay strong all the way through since I got here. To be honest, I know I scored tonight, but I don’t even think this was one of my best games. I want to be a good forward, so I just have to keep working hard.

Zac MacMath

On the game

I just wanted to play my game and be confident in my abilities. Whether it was coming off my line for crosses or trying to make a big save, I just wanted to do anything I could in this game to make sure we got the three points.

On the physical nature of game

We’ve kind of made a little bit of a rivalry against Sporting KC, I think everytime we play them it’s tough. There are a whole bunch of yellow cards, and scuffles in the game. But that’s kind of the way you have to approach Kansas City, you have to be aggressive with them because they are a very aggressive team.

On confidence from win

Right now, we are just happy to give the fans three points at home. We are looking forward to our last game against Columbus next week, but really this is more for guys who are playing for jobs and playing for contracts for next year.

Sporting Kansas City postgame quotes

Peter Vermes

Overall thoughts

I thought for a while there the game was back-and-forth. We gave up two bad balls in critical areas of the field, and credit to Philadelphia, they capitalized on both and that’s what you have to do in this game sometimes. Our biggest thing right now, though, is we need to get healthy and get ready for the playoffs. That’s the big thing. That’s our main goal at the moment.

On playing shorthanded

Obviously you want to win. But at the same time, tonight, I had to leave home C.J. Sapong, Claudio Bieler — and these are guys I wanted to play — Matt Besler and Andy Gruenebaum. Those four. On top of another five guys who have season-ending injuries. And I didn’t want to play Graham [Zusi] because he has a few knocks and pains, and I don’t want him to all of a sudden turn into an injury that ends up being weeks. So, really it’s about us trying to get into some form and get healthy bodies so that when we get to playoffs — at least the guys that are available and don’t have season-ending injuries — I can at least have those guys to pick from to put a team on the field.

On playing better in the second half

Yeah, we had to move the ball a little quicker and stuff like that. And the guys realized that we gave the ball away and if anything it should have been 0-0 at halftime. But, again I don’t think it was a lack of effort or anything like that. It’s really just about us making sure we got our frame of mind going.

If he worries about seeding

I really cant. Whatever place we wind up going in, you got to go to beat teams and you got to win. So we’ll have to take that when it comes. But again, the biggest thing for us is to really try getting healthy bodies so we can be fresh — not hungry, because the guys are hungry —it’s fresh.

On next Sunday’s match-up against New York

The only problem is we play a [CONCACAF] Champions league game Thursday in Costa Rica. So we have a heavy nine days. But we’ll figure a way through it. But Thursday, we just need to get a tie. It’s a very hostile environment.

Dom Dwyer

On what he saw from the game

Obviously it’s a tough result for us. We needed those points. Yeah we made playoffs, but we’re not satisfied. So it’s a disappointing result. We had quite a few calls that didn’t go our way tonight, I’d say. That’s not an excuse. Congrats to Philadelphia. They played well. A couple of errors on our part and it cost us.

On his PK attempt against MacMath

I can’t remember if I’ve taken one against Zac. I missed my last one so I was determined to score this one. And it gets us back in the game but we end up letting in another one so it really didn’t matter in the end.

On any halftime adjustments

Yeah, you know, just open up the game. We had to open it up. We got ourselves in good positions but then we were wasteful with the ball. There were a lot of opportunities for a ball through. It was a difficult field to play on — it was just a little bit sloppy. We’re better than what we showed tonight. It’s just a tough one, but that’s what happened sometimes and you have to deal with it.

On what they need to shore up before the playoffs

Yeah, we need that momentum for the playoffs. New York’s a good team, that will be a tough game, but we’re at home. If we show up and play our best, then we should win the game. It’s a big game and we have to focus on that to pick up some momentum for playoffs.

On noticing any similarities from last year’s team down the stretch

We have a hungry team. We have guys that want to win. I have no doubt about that. I’ll stand and fight with these guys — they want it. They want to win. I think we’re the sleeping giant right now and maybe people are starting to forget about us. That’s a bit different from where we were last year, but that’s how it is.

Lawrence Olum

Overall thoughts of the game

It was a hard-fought game for us. Going down a goal, then working hard to get one back and then a tough one at the end. We gave away a goal and they held back.

What they tried to change at halftime

No we just enforced what Peter wants us to do. We competed a lot more and we took it to them and that’s what brought the first goal. We controlled most of the game in the second half. It was just an unlucky goal at the end.

On what the team needs to do before the playoffs

It’s just getting in the right frame of mind. Everybody needs to get with it, you know. We know what we have to do to get to the finals — we did it last year. So it’s a matter of us, collectively, getting together in the last game to make a push to the MLS Cup.


  1. old soccer coach says:

    KC’s left back certainly could not stop Andrew Wenger one v one, And chose to stay with Wenger out wide rather than slide over to mark Ribeiro on the game winning goal. The foul he committed against Wenger that clearly slowed Wenger down a bit seemed as case of, “I cannot guard you so I am going to hurt you.”

  2. Pedro at 10 next season. Maidana at 8. Noguiera box to box. Okugo at DM. Two quality strikers. A quality LB. Creating some depth off bench with Reserves that we have all been clamoring for. Who knows who is in goal. Would the appropriate set up be a 4-4-2 then? I like the diamond if you have the outside backs capable of getting up and down the field. Gaddis sure can though he is a bit of a liability offensively.
    maybe after all———– I am wistfully hopeful.

  3. I hope they buy Edu and he agrees to be starting CB. I honestly think it could open up so many options for him. Of course the elephant in the room is always going to be CEO and front office stupidity. *Sigh*

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