Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased. Transcription by Ed Farnsworth and Adam Cann.

Opening statement

Briefly on DC, just to reiterate, we won one game at home, which is something that we’re supposed to do. I’m happy for the guys, they put a lot into the game. Guys missing to injury, international call-ups, I thought the guys that were on the field were an experienced group and they stepped up and played in a big performance in front of a very good crowd here that stood behind us and pushed us on to a late win. I’m very happy for Zach Pfeffer, a guy that’s probably deserved a couple of other goals this year. But, for him to get the game winner in a big spot, big three points — very happy for him.

As you look ahead, it doesn’t get any easier with New York, having to go to New York, a rival game, and also DC at their place, so there’ll be a little bit of a revenge factor in that one. So, two games coming up on the road that are very difficult against rivals in the Eastern Conference. Obviously, every game is a big one in our league because anybody can beat anybody, but New York will be certainly a tough task, a team that’s in very good form, a team that high presses all over the field, I think a team that has the best midfield in the league going right now between Dax, Sacha, and Felipe — a handful. A team that, if I’m being honest, gave us a lot of issues in the preseason; even though the scoreline in that game was very much in our favor, they created a ton and were very good against us. So, a team we respect, we know that’s going to be good, a coach that I’m very familiar with in Jesse Marsch. Anytime you go on the road in this league it’s very difficult to get wins, but that’s going to have to be our task.

Do you sense a change in the players after such an emotional win?

Yeah. I think if you go back to even the day before training when I picked the team before we prepared and set up the reserves in the way we thought DC would attack, it was a veteran group, they had a little bounce in their step in that exercise that we did and I think it carried over to the game. I thought they gave a strong performance and, since then — winning cures everything in this league. It’s a league where the margin for error is very small. There’s runs that teams make, you’ll see teams go on four and five game successful runs, and then you’ll see that same team have a difficult spell.

So, it’s a real grind in an MLS year. Over the 34 games, though, I think it’s a true tell, the top teams rise and get into the playoffs. We know we’ve dug a deep hole and we have to fight our way out of it but, yeah, I do think there is a little bit of life in the group. After you win there’s always more confidence, and confidence is the key right now. I think that’s the biggest thing that I would say is we have a lot of very good players that haven’t been confident for the first stretch of games. And now, after one good performance, I think you get a bit of little momentum. But, at the same time, there’s a difficult situation in that Mo — who’s, to be honest, in as good as form as he’s been in his career, as good as I’ve seen, playing as well as I’ve seen — probably not getting the recognition he deserves because of our poor record. We lose him. It’s a big loss at the back, so, disappointing in that regard — anytime it seems like we get a little bit of a break or momentum we have another obstacle we’ll have to overcome. But, we get Richie Marquez back and I think he’ll be up to the task.

On adjusting for New York Red Bulls

Yesterday was more of a regen day, we pushed the group that didn’t get a lot of minutes a pretty good amount of time. Today, we focused on dealing with, because the three midfielders are so comfortable on the ball and versatile, they have a way of really getting forward and creating number advantages in the midfield. Lloyd Sam, another underrated player that’s having a great year, that can come inside, can beat you one-on-one out wide; but they have a tendency to outnumber you in midfield, and that’s something that we worked on today. Dealing with that extra number, it’s not so much man-to-man, it’s more about guys looking around, cutting off passing lanes, and doing the job sometimes dealing with two guys, and doing that in a smart way.

With their high press, they put their defenders on islands and they ask them to make tough one-on-one plays, and they’ve done a very good job, their back line has done a great job of making those individual efforts because they do press so high and put a lot into making you turn the ball over. So, it’s something that we’ll have to be aware of and ready for; when we do get those one-on-one moments and we get isolated with the center back or outside back, you really have to take your chances because they don’t give you a ton of looks.

On Conor Casey

Conor’s a guy I believe in – it’s the reason I started him last game. He’s a guy that’s always scored goals in his career. He’s a winner. If you go back and look through the games he’s given our national team, the games he’s in his career early on overseas in Germany, and the games he’s given in MLS, he scores goals, and he does it in a way that not many American forwards have. He’s a guy who puts in a ton of effort; his legs aren’t the same as they were when he was 20 but, at the same time, I thought in this game he was a little bit of a throwback, turned back the clock a little bit, and was really battling and fighting and gave us a lot of defensive work that kind of doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Bill Hamid robbed him, I thought, twice. He’s still disappointed that he didn’t score; that’s his mentality though, that’s what he wants to do. But he did so many little things that got us the victory in that game.

A guy I believe in — you’re right he does tend to get hot and, when he does, you have to ride him. I can’t pinpoint exactly why that is. Part of it this year is I haven’t put him in as a starter yet and, again, I’ve talked about it before, we’ve relied on too much on just him. I don’t want to do that this year, and the hope was, obviously, to have other guys contributing. We’ve gone a little cold offensively and Conor’s stepped in in a big spot and got us a — he didn’t score the goal but he was a big part of all of our attacking plays. Again, I can’t say enough about Conor: He’s a man, he’s a warrior, he fights for everything, and he’s a good person, too.

Are you starting to feel that you’re getting a handle on mixing veterans with young players?

It’s finding a balance, you have to find the right balance of when you need the veterans. Part of that was the team we’re playing. Listen, DC is an experienced team that is exemplified in their coach — they compete for everything, they fight for everything, and they have guys that have won in the league. Some of them have been cast off in some ways that are still incredible players: the Davy Arnaud, the Chris Rolfe, a guy that I used to play with that is in great form right now. But they have a little chip on their shoulder so I thought the game needed a little bit of the veteran savvy, if you will, and we did factor in the fact that they would have some tired legs having played Orlando midweek, and we wanted to throw some younger guys at them late.

I talked with Ayuk and Pfeffer in the pregame, the practice before the game, and told them that I’m not choosing them this week but, as a staff, we’re still very high on them, they’ve gotten great experience, they’ve given us everything they’ve had and they’re going to play a big role in this game. And Zach came up big in a big spot for us and did well to get us a goal. But it is finding that balance of old and young. The fact that Ayuk got thrown into things a lot earlier than we had planned for him I think is a great way to learn. Is it a great way to learn for 34 games? No, because you’re going to have your highs but you’re also going to have your lows in the course of the year. Zach, same thing. They’re young players that are showing very well and they’re going to be a big part of this thing moving forward. They will get starts, obviously, but when they’re called upon off the bench it’s just as important to give us good minutes.

What’s John McCarthy’s status? Could he start over Brian Sylvestre?  

It’s a challenging decision that I’ll have to make. You guys have heard me say before when we get a shutout I don’t like to make a lot of changes but, at the same time, John’s coming off of an injury, a head injury, where this is his first week back at training. Both goalkeepers looked sharp today, which was a positive. Brian made some very good saves, John made some very good saves.

It’ll be up to me to pick the right guy but, again, we’re coming off of a…I wouldn’t like to change anything after a 1-0 win but I’m forced to with a couple of guys going down with some knocks and then also Maurice, a guy who’s been our best player this year, missing out due to yellow card suspension — in the last ten seconds of the game, or minute of the game, I should say. Difficult.

Injury report 

Steven is just getting back jogging, so he’s — I’ll never rule a guy out yet, but — he’s doubtful I’d say for the weekend, and I’d put Ray in a similar…he’s questionable, Ray would be questionable for the week. I say that because he is a guy who, even when he got killed in the game, he wanted to stay out there. He’s a tough kid, he knows his body well. He’s a quick healer, he’s kind of one solid muscle so he bounces back pretty quick, there’s not a lot of…he bounces back from injury very quickly, I’ll just say, and he’s doing everything he can in his power to have himself ready because he knows it’s Red Bull, he knows it’s our big rivalry game, and he’s motivated by that.

He didn’t want to come out of the game against DC. He tried to run on it for about three or four minutes there. It got to the point when we had a corner, he came over to the side and he just said, he said, “I can do it but this, it’s not me. I’m not myself,” is basically the way he put it and the last thing I wanted to do was leave him out there and have it become something that instead, of a week or a game or two, becomes six or seven, or longer. I didn’t think it was fair to put him out there, keep him out there injured when he said point blank to me that he’s not himself. So, we made that choice and, hopefully, it helps in the recovery and the healing process.

Lahoud update?

He had a pretty serious injury there with his hip flexor, there. There was a little tear in there that they saw when they did the scans. Again, another quick healer because he’s a muscle, you know, he’s a strong guy naturally. And he’ll probably still be a couple weeks out, unfortunately, he’ll still be out. Listen, we’re missing some bodies. We had fourteen available to train today. Maurice obviously makes the 15th, but he’s not eligible. It’s difficult, you know, but you look across the league and everybody’s going through the different injury struggles. Fernando, we may have word by Friday as to where he stands. That’d be a positive. So, we’ll see.

If you guys get word, would Aristeguieta be in the picture?

He’d be in the picture probably as a reserve because he’s been away from the team for so long. But because we are so thin, it would be a heck of a nice luxury to throw in the last twenty minutes of a game. A guy who we know very well, obviously. Just been away for a little bit.

Talk about not having your captain available. 

Brian Carroll has been our captain in the past. He’s coming off a strong performance in our last game. A quiet, strong performance. So that’ll be a seamless one.

But Mo will be missed. Not only for his on-the-field, but for his off-the-field. He’s become a real leader in the locker room. He’s taken on a much bigger role. He’s always been able to do it on the field because that’s natural to him, he’s always been such a good player and a good athlete. Some of the hardest things is to lead in times when you’re losing, and he’s been very good at that. He’s been very good with our young players as well. It’s good to watch his maturing and his ability to keep the group together in tough times. Because you can do it as a coach, but you always need someone in that locker room that’s keeping it together as well. And he’s done a heck of a job in that regard this year. So credit to him.

Again, it kills me that our record isn’t better. We all want the same thing. We want to be in the playoff picture, want that to be the case. But a lot of good things are getting overlooked because of our poor record. And Mo would be someone who’s having as good a season as anyone in our league.

If Gaddis can’t go, what will you tell Williams about going back to the right?

All I was saying is that Ray was ahead of him at the right back spot. Now we have an injury to Ray, and Shea’s a guy that’s very, very comfortable there. And for me, he played his best game of the year against DC. He made a lot of big plays, a lot of blocks. Even in the end of the game when he slid over to the right, pretty seamless. And Fabi did a good job too in that game. He gets the cross that gets us the goal.

With Fabi, he has great moments. The biggest thing with him, and I’ve communicated this with him, is not having the moment during the game where a good 89 minutes gets thrown out the window because of a silly mistake. And he’s aware of that. He’s had a few of them this year. That’s the goal, to eliminate them.

But Shea on the right hand side, I have no problem with. I’ve had some good discussions with him, he’s done some extra work after training getting himself even in better shape. He’s taken it upon himself to do the extra work, and I thought it showed and paid off against DC. That’s the outside back, whether he’s on the right or left, that I know in Sheanon. I’ve talked to him a million times about how he as the ability to be a top outside back in our league. And I think he showed that against DC. And now the key is to put together multiple games, back to back to back to back. And it’s something he’s done in his career and something we need at this time.

Red Bull Arena has been a difficult place to go in the past. Why is that?

They’ve had some good teams, that’s obviously a factor in it. We haven’t had a win there, that’s no secret. It’s tough to win on the road in this league, and they’re our rival. We don’t like them and they don’t like us. It’s Philly/New York, that’s the way you’re kind of raised as a kid in this area. You don’t like New York City whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and now soccer. That’s part of what a rivalry is. They have a good team right now, a very good team, very talented. And it’s a tough place to play. It’s a nice stadium, it’s a nice field. But at the same time, until we win there we can’t say much about it. We have to go there and actually get a result. Talk becomes cheap, we have to get a result there.

When you watch Wenger dribbling out of bounds, what do you think is behind that?

First and foremost, he made Deadspin, which is something that’s pretty good for soccer, to be on Deadspin. The guys have given him a tough time about that play. That’s something that… it’s a headscratcher, I’m not going to lie. He said the same thing. He got probably a little excited because he made a really good run down the sideline, gets ahead of Boswell and separates himself. Picked his head up maybe for a second, then pushed the ball too far. It was a tough moment, but again, Andrew’s still giving us a lot of the defensive work. A lot in the attack as well. He just hasn’t gotten a break. It goes back even to the Vancouver game. He has that look, makes good contact, but just the goalkeeper makes a great save on him.

I believe in Andrew, we have to find a way to get him going. He has so much talent that if we’re going to be a successful team, we have to find a way for him to break out of it. All attacking players go through dips in production in goals and assists. But he’s still a guy that does all the little things defensively. He starts to win head balls, to fight for the team, to fight for the badge. He’s doing a lot of the stuff that doesn’t show up on the score sheet. But obviously we’d like him in those situations to make a quick decision and roll that ball across the top of the box.

Also, before we finish, I do want to wish Marc Narducci a quick and speedy recovery that he’ll have done today on his heart. He’s a guy that I know all the guys in the locker room are close with, and he does a great job covering our team. So best of luck to him today.

Do you like Fabinho in the midfield at all?

I would lean toward Fabi, when Fabi plays there he has cover behind him, so some of the risk that he takes in games, it’s more comfortable to have someone behind him. Fabi would be more of a defensive option on the left hand side, so maybe in a road game, in a pinch you can throw him out there.

Maybe Zach can be a number ten on the road, there’s different ways you could do it. Chaco can go out and cut inside so, we have some decisions to make. But yeah, we have considered Fabi in the midfield spot because he does have a way of getting to the end line and getting crosses. And obviously it would give him some cover behind him. But right now, healthy-body-wise, Fabi is likely the left back if Ray can’t go.

But when Zach plays out wide, he has the ability to come inside more, whether it’s on the left or the right, because he’s been a central player. So he’s used to having the ball at his feet in there. It also creates flexibility with Chaco because Chaco drifts. He drifts left, he drifts right. All the good number tens in the world in our league, in the past, have been guys that know how to get open when the other team has the ball. And Chaco’s no different. Some people call it cheating or whatever, but they have ways of finding the ball. I think Chaco and Pfeffer give you two guys who are comfortable in possession, can come inside, Zach can get you a goal, as he’s proven.

34 Comments

  1. Andrew could be a bit like Ty Webb. Fabulous golfer – until it mattered. Then couldn’t get out of his own way. fa fa fa fa fa fa fa.
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    make. make. be your future Andrew.
    .
    .
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    Dear Manager, if Andrew or Le Toux, but mostly #9- gets the continued starts over the guy who is a national team level player and scored your last two goals- a home grown kid coming in to his own….. I’m not so sure that is wise.
    .

  2. Not one question about the casket outside the stadium? Company line from Jim or something quote worthy? We will never know.
    .
    .
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    After all, this is a ‘we’ problem.

  3. No mention of Sapong from Curtin or the press. Anyone have any idea what is going on? His arrest was April 30th. Is he still in L.A. being evaluated? With such a thin squad right now, be nice to hear an update on him.
    .

    • Is he in a detainment center in the Bermuda Triangle – never to be heard from again?
      .
      Mental note to young aspiring professional worthy players … call a taxi. Cause if you get a DUI…. Damn Ur Ignorant… who knows where you go.

      • alicat215 says:

        if they made more they could have a proper entourage like any good footballer should! Pay one of your boys to be the designated driver!

    • Remember when Keon disappeared? That was weird.

    • We’ve asked about CJ the previous 3 weeks. He is in California undergoing league-mandated treatment.

      • Ludovico treatment, likely – as anything with this team resembles A Clockwork…

      • I didn’t realize the league put him in “treatment.” Seems harsh for a first time offense, is there anything the Players Union can do for him?
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        I can’t imagine this happening in the NFL/NBA/MLB in the middle of the season.
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        I thought he was in CA to be evaluated, do we know if he agreed/asked for help.

      • The Chopper says:

        My guess, is that he is in rehab. Probably the evaluation is to determine if you made a stupid mistake and got pulled over after having a few or if you really have a problem.

        He must be in treatment. And that stuff is all confidential, which is why we are hearing nothing.

      • alicat215 says:

        I think there is probably more here to this story…….

      • +1

      • richie the limey says:

        Right, @KevinKCBS3 but how about asking ‘any timeline for when CJ will be back?’ or ‘any update on CJ?’. Also, how about asking something pointed about the fan protest? Isn’t it a journalist’s responsibility to ask the questions that the readers want asked? The banal and benign such as “why is it tough to get a result at New York” or “have the players changed their outlook after a win?” is nothing we need to hear – we all know the answers to those. Try taking a risk now and then or making a difference instead of just coasting along.

      • this is pretty rude imo, kevin has done a lot of good reporting on this team and definitely has not shied away from criticism in his reporting and analysis

      • I do not take things to quite this level of responsibility, at least in this case, but I am really quite surprised, as noted in my other post, that not one question was asked about the first real backlash from the supporters… A missed opportunity to yet again, put the club under pressure… whether the coach or the FO.
        .
        As Mr. Sakiewiecz says, this is a ‘we’ problem. He asked for us to support the coach and the team instead of pointing fingers, and the media fell right in line a bit with that one. IMO.
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        I am very uncertain who VOLUNTEERS their time and who is actually a MEMBER of the media thereby earning a living…. for the members of the media that were present at said press conference, I think something should absolutely have been asked.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Some reporters treat press conferences as performance art. The best ones ask the questions quietly on the side, get the information they need to get out, and be done with it.

        While sure, it’s fair game to ask Curtin what he thought of the protest, it’s also an unnecessary question and one that puts him in an unnecessarily difficult predicament. What’s he going to say? “They’re right. We need to play better.” And that’s it. He can’t criticize the ownership because he works for them. And everyone knows that. The pointed questions on the protest should be directed at ownership, not Curtin.

      • I appreciate your response and POV but respectfully disagree…
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        Yes, I would fully expect him to say, “They are right, We need to play better.”
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        But he wasn’t given the opportunity. Not asking the questions offers the appearance that what happened before the game doesn’t matter as much and gives the FO, what Mr. Sakiewicz asked for in his follow up with KK the next day, to just basically ‘let it go for now…’
        .
        The questions, while the manager is forced to answer them ultimately puts the leadership of the organization in the cross hairs right where they belong…..even if the answers are stock by JC. The SoB did their part it is now incumbent on the media to do theirs and to continue to do so. Missed opportunity to apply the pressure that is necessary.

      • My original point on this was relative to needing players … And I just learned via a tweet from Kevin, that Sapong is at practice today!

      • Richie The Limey says:

        The difference is that Curtin actually answers ‘real’ questions. I know he can’t say the ‘FO suck’ but I think it is perfectly valid to ask the coach of the team about the protests – managers in England get asked these types of questions all the time. Yes, Kevin is actually reporting on the Union (which I appreciate) but is there anything wrong with me asking him to be a little more direct and asking him to push himself and the reporting forward? I am not interested in hearing the same old cliches over and over and over again – it tells me nothing, so why bother asking the same old questions that get the same PR treatment and vanilla platitudes?

  4. So Wenger in front of Fabinho?

    Wenger.
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    in front of.
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    Fabinho.

    There’s a joke here. Maybe not. Looks like a 3 goal loss.

    • The Black Hand says:

      In his defense, Wenger has been busting his ass defending.

      • The Black Hand says:

        …which is probably the directive he received from his coaches. Offensively, I suspect that Curtin has nothing for him…and it’s showing. Wenger hasn’t been as useless as he is portrayed…he hasn’t been good, but he hasn’t been useless. He’s not the first Union attacker to dribble out of bounds. Andrew Wenger is a good player…he just desperately needs some confidence. This all said, I think the manager needs to sit him down and begin to light that fire under Wenger’s ass. We need Wenger.
        .
        Jim Curtin needs to motivate his key players…like real managers do.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Sorry. Not gonna happen. Ever seen him act like a motivator? Not much evidence of that.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree. We need a manager…badly.

      • alicat215 says:

        he just sits there with a 1000 yard stare………….almost docile, in that freaking corner of the dugout……..99% of the match. The only time I have ever seen him get up is to give the fourth official guff after a questionable card.

      • Dr. Union says:

        Agreed I don’t know how you coach a team by just sitting on the bench. The more games I see the more I think he is out of his element right now. As far as Wenger I think he needs to definitely see the bench he hasn’t had 1 good game yet. For most of the team except for M’bohli there is at least a game you can point to where they played good enough to warrant being on the field. Even Fabinho.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree. Wenger needs to take a break. Give Fabinho the nod…I know, that sounds odd…
        .
        As for Curtin; the longer we wait, the longer it will last. It will get worse!!

  5. So I uh, just wanted to uh, recommend some ah, public speaking for Mr. Curtin, ahh, in the off season. I, ah, had trouble, uh, listening to it.
    Think, then speak. It also helps you speak more clearly and precisely.

  6. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Neither the question putters at the press conference, nor the bloggers responding pay any attention to the second of the two key immediate consequences of the DC game, Nogueira. Grabbing a hamstring, in any fashion, is worthy of follow-up inquiry.
    .
    Perhaps the question putters forget that we fans do not get to see the last fifteen minutes of practice?

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