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Notes from Curtin’s presser, #jackscoredthat, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

After the Union scrimmaged Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday morning — winning 1-0 for what it’s worth — Jim Curtin held his weekly press conference (full transcript here at PSP).

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Curtin’s remarks was that he “still would lean toward John [McCarthy] being the starter for this week” against Toronto rather than Andre Blake.

Curtin acknowledged recent remarks from Blake that he was “100 percent” ready to start after recovering from knee surgery late in the offseason. “I want every player to say that. I want every player who’s not starting to tell me that they’re 100%, they’re fully fit to play 90 minutes.” However, Curtin said Blake had an issue with his knee while training last week — “I don’t want to call it a setback, but he felt the knee, it was scary for him” — and that while he’s close to be ready to start, he’s not there yet.

Had a discussion with Paulo Grillo, our goalkeeping coach, yesterday and he sees what the rest of the staff sees in training, where Dre is getting closer to himself but he’s not quite there yet…There’s a plan with Andre, and a long term one. So you don’t want to throw him into a game now where he might not be ready, something goes wrong and we’re going back to John and then confidence in both goalkeepers is at a low. So again, you have to handle it the right way. I know the pressure of the number one pick and the fans and a lot of people want to see him out there. But I still want to do what’s right for Andre and what’s right for Philadelphia at this moment.

Blake said, “I’m feeling pretty good. Step by step, day by day, I’m feeling much better…But until the coaches think I’m ready, I’m not gonna get in. It doesn’t really matter what I think. I’ll just make sure I’m ready whenever my number is called.”

Curtin reaffirmed there will be lineup changes for the Toronto game. “Obviously, Ayuk was dangerous on the day and gives us a spark. I thought CJ put in a good shift and those are a few guys that are in good form for us right now. And Fernando looks like he’ll be back with the group, so that’s a change. And then defensively there could be a change or two as well.” That Ayuk and Sapong are likely to start on the wings rather than Andrew Wenger and Sebastien Le Toux would seem to be buttressed by the fact that in the Harrisburg scrimmage both played with the Union’s second half lineup.

The first half lineup for the scrimmage was Gaddis, Edu, Will Campbell (Union Academy — Not sure if White entered the game later, but Richie Marquez played for HCI for the first half), Williams; Lahoud, Pfeffer; Sapong, Maidana, Ayuk; Casey. Curtin said Vitoria did not train with the team on Wednesday. “He has a little bit of a tight groin. We’ll see how it progresses, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be available.”

Curtin did not sound optimistic that Vincent Nogueira was ready to return: “Vincent was running today. Still swollen in the ankle. Was a pretty serious ankle injury. He had an injection — a PRP injection — to try to speed up the recovery process. But it’s not ready yet. It’ll be very tight for Toronto.”

He did sound optimistic that Fernando Aristeguieta would be available would be ready to return from his hamstring injury: “Fernando feels good. Didn’t participate today in the game with Harrisburg, but I think he’s a probably option for the weekend.” We’ll see on Saturday if he’s ready to start or if Curtin chooses to begin with Conor Casey.

Curtin said a Carroll-Lahoud pairing is “possible,” but Carroll is recovering from some hamstring and groin issues he was dealing with in the loss to Columbus. Looking again at the first half lineup in Wednesday’s scrimmage, it seems much more likely to expect Pfeffer to replace Carroll for the Toronto game. Curtin said, “We get Zach (Pfeffer) back at home. Unlike last game, I’d like to play a little more offensively in midfield…Zach coming back, he had some life today in the exercise with Harrisburg…Zach is a guy who is still working on the defensive side of the ball. So the eight role is a little bit different for him. But he gives you an option in midfield where he can make a final pass and score you a goal.”

Other highlights from the presser:

  • “If I was to judge our group: Defensively we’ve been an F as a team. Offensively: I’d still say it’s incomplete because Vincent hasn’t been consistently out there, Fernando hasn’t been consistently in training with the group, Chaco’s finally getting back on the field. And Seba and Andrew would tell you their production hasn’t been where they hold themselves to standards-wise. So I’d say we’re incomplete on the offensive side.”
  • “Possession-wise, we’ve been a disaster this year in terms of keeping possession, staying calm, moving that extra two yards on the field that creates an angle to play out of a tight spot. And then confidence. Confidence goes a long way in possession. When you have confident players, they want the ball in tight spots. And right now we’d rather shy away from moving the extra yard or two to keep possession.”
  • On building confidence: “The only way you do it is to go through the 90 minutes and come out on top. That’s the only way to build confidence. You can talk about seeing a sports psychologist, you can talk about being great doing extra work after training, you can do extra weights, you can eat better, you can do all these things. But until the 90 minutes go by and you come out the end of it and know you put in a good performance, nothing cures it.”
  • “It’s too early for must-wins. We need good performances at this stage. We need to be able to look up and look at each other in the locker room after 90 minutes and say, ‘We’re getting better.’ Last game we couldn’t do that. Last game we couldn’t look at each other. We were disgusted with how we performed. And that’s not the way this team is capable of playing. It starts with a good performance. It starts from there. I think to label it a must-win: It’s too early. There’s too much of the season left. Yes, we’re aware that it’s creeping up on a third of the way through, but it’s too early for must-wins.”

More from Curtin’s press conference at MLSsoccer.com, Philly.comDelco Times and Brotherly Game.

At the Toronto FC website, three storylines ahead of Saturday’s game and a podcast that includes discussion of the game.

From the Toronto FC website also comes this comic strip:

Union-TOR comic 4-30-15

Hahaha. Wiki vandalism and phoning it in. In more ways than one. I guess we should be happy there wasn’t a goalkeeper joke.

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young and Eugene Rupinski have a great Q&A with Union assistant coach BJ Callahan and Union Academy director of sports science Garrison Draper on how the team uses analytics. Fascinating stuff.

At American Soccer Analysis, Jared Young’s “Pscore” rankings, an attempt to measure statistically how “proactive” a team is in play, has the Union at No. 17 in the league. In March, the Union were ranked at No. 8.

Philadelphia Sports Rants has some suggestions to answer the question of what now for the Union until help hopefully arrives in the summer transfer window.


Ocean City Nor’easters have announced John Loiodice as the head coach of the club’s new U-23 team. Loiodice was most recently assistant coach of Rowan University’s men’s team.


Former Union man Jack McInerney scored in the 89th minute minute after the Impact had earlier taken a 1-0 lead over Club America in Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League final at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Unfortunately, between those two goals, Dario Benedetto had scored a hat trick, and Oribe Peralta had scored a goal of his own, to give Club America the 4-2 win and the Champions League title (5-3 on aggregate).

McInerney said after the game, “We’ve done great in this tournament. We played well with our style of play, by counterattacking against these Central American teams. In MLS, it’s going to be a little bit different, but we have a skillful team and we’re going to see a lot more of the ball. Players grew close when we traveled and we can use that to our advantage for rest of the season.”

At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep on how the quest for an MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League will remain an uphill battle as long as spending restrictions remain in place in the league.

Recaps at Montreal Impact, Montreal GazetteThe Globe and Mail, MLS Soccer.com, Fox Soccer, SIUSA Todaythe Guardian, and Reuters.

In league play, NYRB came from behind to draw 1-1 at home with Colorado and so remain the only undefeated team (3-0-4) in MLS.

The league disciplinary committee has suspended Chicago’s Matt Watson, Real Salt Lake’s John Stertzer, and Kansas City’s Servando Carrasco. Houston, Kansas City, Vancouver, and DC were also found to be in violation of the league’s mass confrontation policy.

The Independent Review Committee has overturned the one-game suspension of Houston’s Jermaine Taylor for the red card he received in last weekend’s 4-4 draw with Kansas City.

"Metallic silver" or "disappears in the light"?

“Metallic silver” or “disappears in the light”?

This just in from the Department of What’s With The Argyle, Kansas City have unveiled a new “a monochromatic white and metallic silver” third kit that will debut this weekend when they host Chicago. I thought MLS third kits were no more?

An editorial at the Orlando Sentinel questions the efforts of some Florida lawmakers to remove authorization for state sales-tax rebates that would mean $30 million in funding for the construction of Orlando City’s new stadium.

A “source familiar with discussions” at NYCFC about their stadium plans tells the New York Daily News that Tuesday’s New York Times report suggesting the team could build a new stadium at Columbia University’s athletic complex is “beyond premature.” The source explains, “At the end of the day, there’s really nothing going on. There’s nothing to discuss because it’s not even at the embryonic stage.”

LAFC managing partner Henry Nguyen has made it clear the team wants nothing to do with anything associated with Chivas USA, even something good like the Chivas USA Academy.

A bill to fund renovations at the stadium that serves as the home of NASL side Indy Eleven failed to make it out of committee before the end of the legislative session.


At the Tournament Delle Nazioni semifinals on Wednesday, the US U-15s defeated Italy 5-4 on penalty kicks to advance to the tournament final where they will face Austria on Friday. Union Academy defender Rayshaun McGann was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s game.

The US U-23 team will gather for a camp in England in September during which they will play their England and Qatar counterparts ahead of CONCACAF’s Olympic qualification tournament in October. The team will participate in the Toulon Tournament in France at the end of May where they will face France, Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Qatar.


A report on the FIFA website describes meetings held earlier this week to discuss potential changes to the Laws of the Game, “including proposals to amend Law 3 to allow a fourth substitution and the potential use of video replays to support match officials.”

Reuters reports, “Legia Warsaw, expelled from the Champions League qualifiers in August, have lost their appeal against the elimination after sport’s highest tribunal rejected their claims that Uefa had been too bureaucratic.”

ESPN reports, “Some 100 PSG fans and the Association of Angry Fans against Financial Fair Play have brought a case against UEFA before Paris’ High Court, arguing that certain FFP rules prevent investment and go against free competition, thereby maintaining the established elite.” The Association of Angry Fans against Financial Fair Play has to be the best organizational name I’ve heard in ages. Can’t help but wonder if in French it spells out some kind of equally funny acronym.

At SI, Jonathan Wilson’s “What if” series continues with the 1970 Brazil World Cup team vs. the 1974 Netherland’s World Cup team.

The AP reports from Brazil, “A Palmeiras fan has died from head injuries after being attacked by Santos supporters following the teams’ match in the final of the Sao Paulo state championship at the weekend.”


  1. el pachyderm says:

    Did anyone watch the Montreal – Club America game? Club America sucked the life out of that stadium like an event horizon.
    At first it seemed unfair to me- the Mexicans playing on turf, cause they were clearly thrown off by the speed of the game, but once they got their angles down – – – GOODNIGHT – Sleeper hold.
    I kept envisioning the referee lifting the 1980’s WWF wrestler’s arm to watch it fall limply. Once. Twice. Again. Four… that’s it- ring the bell…. Ding Ding Ding.
    The CAM Osvaldo Martinez was boss and well….. there simply are not enough superlatives for Dario Benedetto.
    This is the third post of this comment cause I think the game was that impressive.

    • i had to turn it off after club america scored the second goal. i was really pulling for montreal and i have been watching too many games recently where the team i am hoping will win ends up losing badly

    • The Black Hand says:

      I got tired of seeing “peer” clubs, that could accept a pass…so I watched the Union replay…yeah…I really did. Awful choice!

      • el pachyderm says:

        Me too TBH. Funny. I watched the Union replay afterwards to be sure I am being faithful to the cause and not confirming biases or being unfair and I came to this conclusion…
        We are right to continue….. so skewer skewer skewer skewer skewer until they get it right. If it is their will to muck it up this bad, it is my will to destroy them with words and believe me – I haven’t even begun to explore the depths of creativity in this manner.
        That game was actually worse….watching it a second time – as truly they were TERRIBLE and this is by no means a stretch at all. TERRIBLE.
        All that to say this …. I was so unbelievably impressed with the adjustments Club America made in the second half of that game that I don’t really have the words.
        To be honest, the magnitude of beauty in Benedetto’s first strike just puckered their asses and Montreal folded completely.

      • The Black Hand says:

        We should scrap the concrete, “Philly-Tough” boots. They really haven’t been working out well for us.
        I couldn’t believe how poorly we accepted the passing…on the few occasions that the ball reached a Union player.
        Carroll sucks! He had a number of chances to slay Columbus, with a through ball. He blew them all. Too much on it…too little on it…all wrong.
        Wenger started off, OK. Wasn’t as bad as I has initially thought. Still wasn’t good, though.
        LeToux sucks
        Edu is not the “back line” force, that he is made out to be.
        McCarthy…I just feel bad for the kid…

      • el pachyderm says:

        It is ALL wrong.

      • The Black Hand says:

        What a finish!!! That is how you volley home a goal…with a message.

    • ebradlee10 says:

      I wonder how many reds would’ve been shown if Geiger reffed it? Three? Four?

    • yeah, Montreal put up the flag when CA tied it up at 2. And your right, once CA got there bearings………they flamed Montreal. It was almost like Club Gringo said………..”wait this is serious……we may loose this”……..they then blew their doors off. Mexican clubs are still pretty far ahead of anything the MLS has to offer………why do you think so many ballers from SoCal are heading south of the border…….particularly kids with dual nationalities……that we could really use.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Montreal just got overwhelmed. They really performed well throughout the semi-finals and finals… till the 2nd half started. Regardless, I enjoyed the way they had a PLAN… EXECUTED that PLAN… and every player seemed to have a PURPOSE. Klopas did an excellent job of PREPARING his guys and giving them a real chance to win.
      Could you imagine if the Union would have won the US Open Cup, and been in that tournament? I can’t… I’m actually asking if anyone could imagine that…

      • I touted the Open Final as Okugo’s coming out party. If they win that game maybe he”s still a member of this team. Maybe everything is different. I remember posting here how he was going to shut Dempsey down. Would of too.
        Oh the betrayal to #14.
        I cannot – nor will not – forget or forgive ‘son of a curtain maker’ for that grievous grievous error in judgement.

    • Was a great game, especially the first half. Montreal had 2 or 3 excellent opportunities to go up 2-0 and should have but blew it, either by not passing to the open man or shooting straight at the goalie.
      Then before Club America scored one of their defenders should have been shown a red. That referee wanted Club America clearly to win.
      Excellent atmosphere in the stadium, especially during the 1st half.
      Great to see Jack Mac score. He really had a nice run to connect on the cross.

  2. The Black Hand says:

    How the HELL is there a possibility that McCarthy starts?? Even a slightly unfit Blake is a better option. How has another keeper option not been brought in?
    Jim Curtin is ruining this kid’s professional hopes.
    It’s time for Jim to go!

    • I’m hoping this is just a smokescreen…

    • Whenever I see ‘long term plan’ in a quote from anyone in Union FO or coaching staff I just chuckle. The only plan this club ever has ever had is throw something against the wall and hope it sticks.

      • el pachyderm says:

        Here’s my LONG term plan…someday the sun will swallow the earth.
        Here’s my SHORT term plan (this season). Right the ship by having only Le Toux or Wenger on the field at same time. When in possession push the back line as far forward as possible instead of 40M behind midfielders- you will give up goals likely- but you already lead the league in goals against – without goals for – so does it matter. The tighter field will facilitate more continuity cause I have to believe we can’t possibly be this bad in possession – they show glimmers of retaining. It seems every game we come out pushing the play, then get smacked in the mouth then crawl into a shell or score a goal then crawl into a shell.
        To hell with the shell, BALLS OUT at ALL times. PRESS PRESS PRESS ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK.
        Here’s my MID term plan (off season into next year) : HIRE a quality GENERAL MANAGER, give him the keys and my trust and withdraw.
        This is my plan to fix this club – – It is sound – – I know it is — – – — Union FO, what is yours?
        Cause, yet again you are a Laughingstock and I can’t see or hear a thing you are saying. It is not sound.

  3. Staci Klemmer says:

    I would buy that KC jersey in a heartbeat…the promotional video that went with it was pretty slick too.

    • They’ve been on a winning streak for a while with really nice jerseys. I agree.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Those guys have “disappearing jerseys”…we have a gigantic BIMBO.
      SAVE US, PLEASE!!!!

      • el pachyderm says:

        I like the disappearing jersey, particularly on a player with ‘angel wing ink’ all over his back like #9 last night.
        How cool was it to see him sore through the air then take off the jersey and see his tattoos. .
        People if you didn’t see it, watch the second half of that Champions league final.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Benedetto’s side winder was ridiculously awesome.

    • Behold my silver nipples!!!!

    • Are the numbers on the back done in the same disappearing silver? The jersey may be cool, but I’m not sure they’re field-legal.

  4. When I take over mediocre cartoonists are going to be some of the first ones against the wall.

  5. Here’s a good question. We all know how bad things are right now, it’s been said over and over. But, when do you see any turn around coming and what precipitates it? (Can’t say ownership change because it ain’t happening)
    If things continue this way it will be almost merciful to let Curtin go. First thing, hire a GM, now, not after the season. Rid ourselves of Carroll, M’Bolhi and Le Toux. That’s (I may be wrong) upwards of $700-900 thousand. That could be a starting DM, starting winger and 2-3 role players.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I see a couple of years…easily. We are so flawed, right now. A complete overhaul is the only thing that can save this club. Keep a couple of guys…build the rest towards a common-strength. A proper manager is a MUST!

    • There’s no way getting rid of those three brings in that much money. The Union will be on the hook for most if not all of their salaries — I can’t see any team taking any of them with their full salary.
      Short term, what I see precipitating a bump to better form is whatever issue is splitting the locker room gets resolved in-house. Sadly, I’m starting to think the only way to a full turnaround is #SakOut.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Definitely, we will eat a lot of that money. I would try pad our budget by shipping out: Williams, MacMath, Cruz (Too expensive, but I like the depth he brings. He’s not very good, but he can be used a number of situations. We don’t have that, now. Enough on Cruz), Casey, Fred, Fabinho (the horror!!), Vitoria and MAURICE EDU (unless, he reworks his contract..which he won’t. He makes more than Noguiera/Maidana, combined…by a mile. WHY???)
        That should give us some cash.

      • I’d love to argue but can’t. The only thing is that this would take several years to accomplish. Sad day

    • It’s so hard to tell when we don’t really have a clear picture of the team’s finances. We’d have to guess at payroll.

      I see it two ways:

      (1) Organizationally, It’s going to take a long time to change. How much Sugarman is willing to do so is anyone’s guess. We don’t know if he’s furious at this season’s start or if he doesn’t care. But this organization is not up to the task. Everything done in the last two years (at least) seems to be an exercise in halfassed cutting and pasting. It’s a bad bit of improvisation with some seriously wrong notes.

      (2) That said, I think the team could be competitive pretty quickly. There is some talent on this squad. And I think it’s pretty clear, even without knowing all the payroll numbers that the offseason was dramatically impaired by the Mbolhi signing. It may have been the difference between signing a quality #6. It may also have been a deciding factor in choosing not to retain Okugo.

      The team put a lot of chips on Mbohli and got killed for the bad decision. Cutting him was a good step, but the team is still getting punished for the signing with a serviceable keeper serving a loan on the Colorado bench and our available options a rookie and a first round pick who can’t play due to injury. If we can get anything for Mbolhi, we should get an awful lot of money back to add to the team. It won’t make them a top team in the East, but should be enough to dramatically improve the dreck we’ve been served so far. So maybe the team gets better in the summer? Look at NE last year. Lost 9 games in a row, get Jermaine Jones and it’s off to the MLS Cup. Not saying we’ll do the same, but I think the margins are not great in this league.

      • el pachyderm says:

        Mr. Sugarman has a look that tells me he isn’t sure if he should be wearing blue or gold today- tie or business casual- tussled hair or combed…
        …let alone how upset he may or may not be with his companies dire ineptitude.
        We have Maurice Edu not Jermaine Jones. We hitched our star to him and now he is a center back on a dysfunctional back line. In the very near future, we aren’t getting any cameo players. I didn’t want him. But he isn’t where they envisioned either. all part of the no V.P.P virus.
        It is SO important for all of us to remember this ONE thing:
        MEDIOCRITY is this clubs goal. Make no mistake.

      • el pachyderm says:

        sorry, ran out of time on the edit…… until this changes it is just ‘you’, me and the wall upon which we bang our collective heads.

      • Indeed.

      • Mediocrity would be a great improvement right now. Also, I like Edu. He’s not Jones, but he’s a fine player. But we didn’t accomplish half of what the team needed to do in the off season — get a DMid and a real LB.

        My hope this season was that the team would look more like the August -Sept. 2014 Union with a chance of getting a top 5 spot in the conference. I was expecting degrees of improvement, not wholesale implosion.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1 I would take mediocrity at this point, but this budget is all over the place thanks to Sak. Those signings are on him.

  6. ebradlee10 says:

    That comic has to go up in the locker room.

  7. el pachyderm says:

    LAFC managing partner Henry Nguyen must be out of his mind.
    Somebody sit this fool down and show him the video of Brian Kleiben’s U14 Chivas Academy team playing toe to toe with Barcelona last month.
    Please, he needs and intervention. Imbecile.
    THIS is one reason why MLS is muy estupido.

    • Jim Presti says:

      +1 How do you look at what Kleiban is doing at the youth level with 3Four3 and think “Nah. F*** that. Toss that in the garbage and we can start over.”

      Sidenote: Someone bring Kleiban over here to manage the first squad. Phenomenal.

  8. Nova 66-64 says:

    Club America looked great in the second half.

    It is nice to see a team that has BIMBO on their kits win a meaningful game.

  9. Its astounding, the nonsense that pours out of this coaches mouth. What platitudes . If I were a player on that team ,I would be laughing behind his back.

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