Press Conference

Video and transcript: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference, Oct. 22

Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned as interim head coach?

That’s a good question. There’s a ton. We’ve had a lot of success and we’ve had the consecutive two crazy games [that]  like I’ve said, I’ll probably never experience again in my career. I got thrown into the fire. I think I’ve learned a lot, adjusted a lot, and I’ll take the lessons that I’ve learned. The biggest thing is guys one through 14, one through 16, are usually pretty easy to handle. They know where they stand. Guys 14 through 30, who are wondering what they need to do to get into lineup, you wind up spending the majority of your time with. So that’s been the biggest “wow” moment. And also, the things when you sat as an assistant and you

(audio cuts out for 32 seconds)

BJ’s still with us too. BJ’s going to be with us in the long term doing a lot of different things.

What’s the status of Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux for the final game?

Conor had some shots in his knees — he had some tendinitis there — just to kind of get that loosened up. Probably doubtful for the weekend. Seba’s fine. Who else did you ask about? Just those two? Yeah, Seba’s fine. Seba will be fine, Conor, maybe. Valdes has a little issue, he’s been dealing with a knee injury. He’s kind of day-to-day, we’ll see if he’ll be ready. Nogueira has some tightness in his Achilles. It’s an old injury that he’s kind of a little bit worried about, so we kept him out of training. But he thinks he’ll possibly be ready to go for Columbus.

On guys playing for contracts

You play for your job everyday with me. There’s no days off, there’s no time to just relax, you’re judged every day. The guys are pros, they know that. So, every day is an opportunity. I listen even a little closer to the different conversations, and who are the guys still bringing it every day in training — it matters to me — and who are the guys who are kind of tuned out and thinking about offseason vacations and things like that. It’s a full time job so, again, there’s no breaks for guys. I would say every day, guys are playing for contracts and, again, to be one of those guys who are protected and to have your contract renewed and be back next year. That’s the ultimate goal of all of these guys. So, yeah, they’re judged every day.

With Sunday being the last game, what does next week look like? What does next Monday look like?

We just announced it to them today. We’ll literally get off the plane and they’ll have their exit physicals. I’m not a guy who believes in keeping them here for a month of training. I’ve seen how that’s gone with teams and usually you have more fistfights than you have productive training sessions. They’ve put a lot into the year, came up short . With the younger guys, we’ll look  — actually, not just the younger guys — all guys we’ll look for options if they do want to keep pushing and go overseas and get a couple of weeks at a club, we’ll try to set that up as best we can. We’ll have end-of-the-year meetings on Wednesday. Those discussions on Wednesday will mostly be soccer discussions. There’s not going to be a “who’s protected” and “who’s not, ” and “are you getting more money” or “are you getting less money”; those won’t be those talks, they’ll be more soccer-specific talks. And I want to hear some feedback from them, positives and negatives about our training sessions, about what we can do culturally at the club to improve things and strengthen things. They’ll be those kind of discussions, and then how they’re handling their offseason. Kevin Miller does a great job organizing offseason plans for them, and we’ll kind of go from there.

Timeline-wise, it’ll be Monday, Wednesday, and then the dates that you guys have all seen for the re-entry, expansion draft, and those. Obviously, we still have to hold true to those.

Some players think the offseason is too long. Is it the same for coaches?

Yes, but it’s the craziest time for coaches. I would say to re-tool, there’s a million possible trades and ways that your team could drastically change, or do you make subtle changes? So many different mechanism in our league with the college draft, trading of allocation money and players, re-entry draft — it’s probably the busiest time for the technical staff to get everything lined up and in how can you improve in the fastest way for next season, and know that you’re going into the year with the goal of making the playoffs. It comes at you fast, so there’s no real downtime for the coaching staff, I would say.

Players, it’s good to shutdown for a couple weeks, but I would agree that the three, four month , three-and-a-half months in some cases can be too much. We’ll find ways to keep our guys going. We always have pretty darn good pick-up games in the offseason up at YSC that get pretty heated. I’d say they’re the best on the East Coast — I jump in every once in a while — but they’re good. It’s not a perfect setup, but we’ll look to get guys overseas and get them some experience in that regard.

Do you have the sense that the fan base is nervous about getting the expansion draft right, given that Shea Salinas and Justin Mapp were picked up and are now everyday starters?

Yes. It’s one where you sit back in that room and you juggle. You look at guys’ age, you look at guys’ salaries — there’s a lot of moving parts with those. There’s a little bit of luck and guessing as to guys’ value a certain way. But, yeah, the Union, and every team, has lost good players in the expansion draft. It’s difficult. It’s always tough when you see a guy have success and thrive at another club. You think of a guy, a friend, a very close friend of mine, Justin Mapp, who’s put together some really good seasons, that they lost here. You don’t want to be that team. You don’t want to be the team that’s kicking itself down the road, losing very talented players in an expansion draft process. But,

(audio cuts out for 31 seconds)

On how an expansion draft affects early offseason player moves

Yes, it’s drastically different. Trade talks that would be going on literally the second our season ended are on ice right now. You kind of have to wait because the rosters are frozen but you can’t possibly discuss even trading a guy that winds up on a protected list. So, it’s challenging, it’s totally different, the timelines are out the window. The fact that there’s two teams drafting is a big, big variable.

Yeah, it’s a unique one. Ideally, you’d like to let guys know as well where they stand right when the year ends. It’s what you’re accustomed to in a normal year. You know, have their holiday, have their family time so to speak at Thanksgiving and at Christmas and know exactly what the heck’s going on with their future. It’s unique. The discussions are different, they’re more vague. With a lot of guys we will fill them in and give them some sense of security as to where we’re at least leaning so they can start the process of finding another club in some regard, finding a USL team for guys who we think maybe need 30 games before they’re considered first team MLS players. We’ll still have those talks but nothing will be that you guys get to see because once it gets out there, it is detrimental.

Thoughts on entering 2015 with two new teams entering joining the Eastern Conference and a new collective bargaining agreement

It’s a really exciting time in our league. A lot of foreign players want to come here. You have a club in Man City coming in that I suspect is not going to mess around and they’re going to do it the right way, that’s for sure. Orlando’s a very ambitious club . You’ve seen the names they’ve signed, I don’t have to speak for that, they’re big time players, world class players. It’s a new challenge for us because those teams are going to be in the East, we’re going to play against them. It’s going to be tough. You probably lose maybe two other teams that go out maybe to the west, but the challenges are there. It is an exciting time for the league. It’s a time where we’re going to really have to push, and push a lot of the right buttons, in the offseason to get things right because we know we’re close, but our fans are tired of close. We need to be in the playoffs.

3 Comments

  1. Can we get shirts made that say “audio cuts out…” Someone seriously need to the call the A/V club president and find the squirrel that keep chewing on wires.

  2. In light of all this Tifo stuff and on JC behalf, I would be remiss not to belt out a little….
    .
    …clowns on the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am- stuck in the middle with you.
    .
    did you guys get that, or did it cut out too?

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