Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement

Obviously coming off of a very poor showing, it’s good to have the opportunity to get back on the field quickly — not feel sorry for ourselves — pick ourselves up and know that a Seattle team’s coming in that is a little banged up and missing some guys. But, a team’s that gonna be — you know, one of the few teams in the league that can field two strong teams. So, it’ll be a difficult game for us.

I talked with our guys about having three games before the July 4th break where we give them a little bit of time off for once — it seems like in MLS I haven’t had that in like 15 years — but have a little bit of a break on July 4th. But we have three games going into it, they’re all in our building, they’re all big games. So, a little bit of a three-game kind of mini-season where we have to take care of business and get good results.

You said the team needs to look into the mirror. How has the team respond from the tough loss to the Galaxy?

It starts with myself when I’m hard on them, anytime I look at myself first. We weren’t…I thought we actually started the game well, so I don’t want to say we weren’t ready to play, but we did not execute for 90 minutes. We were able to sustain it for about 20. Had two or three chances to score when you look back at the tape, we don’t. And they’re a very good team. You give a Galaxy team good looks in front of goal, the quality they have — Zardes, Keane, a lot of weapons that if balls are bouncing in the box, they’re going to bury their chances, and they did, they punished us. We were outclassed on the night.

I think our guys have a real bad taste in their mouths, you know? It’s a long flight back, you have time to reflect and think about things. The message is though it’s in the past, you have to have a short-term memory in this league, you can’t think about the last game because the next one’s coming up, and that’s kind of the mentality we’ve had. We watched tape on Seattle today so, again, LA’s in the past and we know we have to get a result at home.

Do you sit down and watch all the game footage together?

There’s different ways to do it. I think we’re at a point in the season, a point where we’ve hammered home how we want to play defensively., that that one, we didn’t break down a lot of film. I think the mistakes that happened we’ve talked to individuals about and, again, we don’t want to keep hammering the same things. So we kind of did not so much film on LA. Obviously, I watched it a bunch and we broke it down ourselves, but as far as with the team, to sit through all five goals would just be kind of demoralizing, you know, to go through it again. There are cases where that’s what you want to do and you want to hammer home some points, but I think this one was one where the focus becomes Seattle; rather than dwelling on all the negative, look at some of the positives in the past several weeks and get back on track. With a good team coming in here, it won’t be easy.

How can you better capitalize on the early chances? 

The situations where we’ve had good service, our runs have been off on the corners, on free kicks. And when we have good runs, the service will let us down — we get cut out at the near post, or something frustrating like that will happen. It is something we practice, we practice again today. Obviously, Seattle’s a team with Chad Marshall that is a handful when you’re defending set pieces, but also attacking; different things can maybe clear him, clear some space and get him out of the way and get on the end of something. So, it’s something we work on a lot in training. Has the execution been there in the game? No, it hasn’t been. We’ve improved defending them a little bit, but I need to really do better at executing offensively on set pieces because you can see a lot of these games are decided by set piece goals, one or two plays here and there in the box, and we have to do a good job of capitalizing on all our chances. It’s not like we’re a team that creates 40 a game. So, you really have to be focused and execute your role on each individual corner kick or free kick.

What is it that you think is missing?

It becomes mentality. The good service that we have, it’s about competing and winning your individual battle and fighting through picks and screens and guys grabbing. Our league, they do let a lot go in the box, so you have to know that and then make a real hard commitment, and have a desire, to get on the end of things. I think our guys do have that, it’s just the two haven’t been there. Like I said, when the service is good, the commitment with the runs isn’t there, and when the runs are good, the service has let us down. So, getting the two on the same page is kind of critical to scoring a goal. It’s hard to score on restarts in the game, it’s something that is difficult, but it’s a big part of what we’d like to be about, and we haven’t been thus far.

With Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martin both unavailable, could Maurice Edu be moved up into the midfield?

Aside from the two of them being two of the best players in our league, ye, it is better for me as coach to prepare for a team when they’re not on the field. When they’re going, the two of them kind of…it almost looks like training ground stuff, things that you’ll see on five-a-side where they have little combinations between the two of them, they come to life when each other is on the ball. It’s not really worth me talking about them ’cause they’re not going to be out there for this game, but two special players, I’m happy they’re not there.

With Mo, a little bit of moving him into the midfield was just to try to save Brian’s legs a little bit once the game got a little bit out of reach. We do have a decision to make with the 120, the 90, and now another 90 on a Wednesday, but we don’t have really…I can’t start thinking about Montreal and resting guys, and that kind of thing, we have to get a result here at home. It’ll be one game at a time, that’ll be our approach. We’ll pick the lineup; I’m sorry, I can’t really give you the answer on that one.

Do you have any injury relief at all for Wednesday’s game?

Nope. Ah! I shouldn’t say that, Ayuk will be back, which is helpful to give us an attacking threat off the bench. The other guys are taking a little longer then I hoped, and then they hoped, as well. So, frustrated in that regard, but, at the same time, you look across the league, everybody’s got injuries, It’s a true test of your team’s depth and over the course of 34 games you need guys to step up that maybe haven’t been called upon yet, and that might happen tomorrow.

On the scheduling disparities with teams like Montreal having multiple games in hand

Their’s is a unique one because they were in the CONCACAF Champions League so they kind of moved a bunch of their games and kind of back loaded it. It’ll catch up with them in terms of having a difficult stretch playing Saturday-Wednesday a lot down the stretch but, yeah, there’s a little bit of a misbalanced schedule. Some other teams are starting to catch up with us in games; DC’s now passed us in games. It’s a tough job for someone to fit all the games in at the venues, some are still are still football stadiums you have to remember, some are baseball stadiums, so to get everything to coincide, it’s tough to keep everybody on the same one game a week schedule. It’s a challenging job but, yeah, it is a little unbalanced in terms of the amount of games played. Part of that was because of Montreal’s unique run to the final game of the CONCACAF Champions League.

On Zach Pfeffer

Zach’s a young player that, again, I’ve been with for a while. This year he’s taken a big step. So I want more, am I greedy? Yes, I want even more from Zach. I thought he had some good moments in LA, but that’s a real game for him. You talk about playing in big games, in games on the road against the defending champs, I thought he passed the test for the very early stages but I think there was some moments where he could have been better. And, I’m going to be hard on him at all times because I see how talented he can be. He can be a goal-scoring midfielder in this league, which is — they’re very rare, they’re hard to find. He has the potential and the ability to be a guy that gets you eight goals a year, and then maybe hopefully eight assists, pushing the double digits for assists. I think he has that kind of potential, but he’s not the finished product yet, and I know that, so he needs to keep looking at everything, the good and the bad of each game. With young players there’s highs and lows. He’s had some really high highs this year, and a tough, tough couple of lows too; you think of the unfortunate handball in DC. So, he’s had the wide range of emotions. The message from me is always to grab a hold of the position you’ve been given when he gets starts, and not let that go, ever. That should be the mindset of any player. Hopefully he can look back ten years from now and recognize this as a season where he started to break out.

On Pfeffer starting at the age of 15

Yeah, 15, I think I was throwing rocks at cars. 15, that’s a long time ago, that was a whole different age. I was 20 when I signed in Chicago. Again, my situation was completely different. Happy to be there, happy to be part of the team. Mine’s literally two guys got red carded the game before, so they threw me out on the field and I was on a good team, and we went on a run; I think we went on like a 13-game winning streak and I didn’t come off the field. So, that was kind of my story, but everybody has a story. Zach’s is a unique one in that he had some time early where he got thrown into the fire right away, he did really well, he got less playing time, he went overseas, and now he’s come back with a really good mind set and good mentality on the defensive side of the ball, and he’s grown a lot as a player. Again, everybody has their own story, the sink or swim moment, and hopefully Zach’s off and running now. I’m not saying he’s made it yet, though, you know what I mean? He’s put together some good games but, again, I’m greedy: I’m his coach, I want more. And I know he’s capable of more. It’s exciting.

Does last year’s US Open Cup final loss have a place in preparing to face Seattle?

For sure. I mean,  you know who beat you in the final, there’s no doubt about that, in what was a good game but one that left an empty feeling for us. You know, when you see those green jerseys tomorrow that will be the first thing probably that will go through everyone’s mind, that they have a trophy of ours, you know? That should motivate guys, for sure. It’s a big game for us; to say that we’ve completely forgotten about the Open Cup final, I’d be lying. So, yeah, it’s a factor, and it’s something that…Again, they’re going to put a good team on the field and we’re going to have to go toe-to-toe against a very good team, and a very well coached team.

On playing a team that the Union has faced in some big games including their first-ever game  

A lot of the West Coast teams, especially the elite ones, they don’t come here that often; I think the Galaxy hasn’t been here in three years. Seattle has been here only because of the Open Cup final last year. So, yeah, they are special. A a pro athlete, and as a pro coach, you want to test yourself against the best and, over the history of their existence, they’re one of the best teams in this league, they do things the right way from top to bottom. Their players are very good, and Sigi Schmid does an amazing job with them, he’s a coach that I look up to. Any chance they do come here, it’s more special, for sure.

Do you have the option to play Pfeffer inside and move Cristian Maidana to the wing?

You’re in my head right now, for sure. All things I think about all the time with both those players. Zach probably is best suited to be a central guy. You could argue that Chaco does well when he drifts out left, he drifts out wide naturally anyway. So, that’s a big decision that we’ll make for tomorrow, could be something that we tweak and change. At the end of the day, though, they’re both two players that when they’re on the ball, we’re better when they’re in possession of the ball and they have the ball at their feet and they’re making the decisions. So, two guys we have to keep involved, and two guys that will feature very much so in tomorrow’s game, some centrally, some out wide.

Update on Wilson Palacios

We’re not going to move forward with Wilson. He’s a player that we respected a great deal, a guy who has played at the highest level but, in terms of fit right now and need, not in the process.

Note: After the press conference, Curtin told reporters that Fernando Aristeguieta’s loan from Ligue 1 side Nantes will soon expire but the club is working to find a way to extend his stay. It was widely assumed when Aristeguieta loan to the Union was announced that it would be for the full 2015 MLS season. Hopefully, we’ll soon have more details.


  1. Hi, I’m Jim Curtin and I want you to know I read my team the riot act, that shit was UnAccEptAblE.
    Don’t want to keep hammering on the same thing? Can’t score. Can’t keep the other team from scoring. Seems simple…stop hammering and start sawing.
    For the record I don’t think there would be anything demoralizing about my team being forced to sit an watch that utter failure of a soccer match. To me and my line of thinking that would fall squarely under the logical consequences file.

  2. Zach inside with Chaco out wide left…two very important things happening there. Zach plays his more natural position. And…WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO, NO ANDREW WENGER STARTING!!!!!!!!


  3. aristegueta is LEAVING?!?

    Fuck this. Fuck ALL OF THIS BULLSHIT.

    • This kind of makes sense. I was always wondering what the plan was if Valdes’ salary came back on the books mid-summer considering the salary cap. Perhaps a half-season loan for Aristeguieta was the pressure release valve in case Valdes’ loan wasn’t extended (it wasn’t) and they couldn’t find something else for him.
      It makes sense in that it could clear up a point of confusion for me, not in that I think it is anything other than bad.

  4. Wow so if the galaxy game was 10 – 0 you still look at the tape and identify what went wrong. To me that’s unacceptable. They are supposed to be pros so they all should be able to man up and watch in detail what they did wrong and really try to fix it, no matter how hard it is to watch. Another point, I wish Curtin would be as enthusiastic with other players as he is with Pfeffer. Take Hopponot for example. I know I’m a broken record but I really think Hop. Can do really good things for this team especially now. Last season when he came on for what , maybe two games? He showed a lot and really had an impact. Most of the time when on the field he has had a huge impact on games really testing defenses. It’s definitely time to play him due to the situation of this team. I also wanna see a 4-4-2 with Hop. Playing up top or in the midfield. Many will disagree but when I watch him play I always call him the MLS Messi or our own Union Messi. He deserves a fair chance of being a starter or even a regular sub.

    • He goes down to easily and isn’t going to get the whistle. Don’t get me wrong, I like his ability to race around and stretch defenses, but we all know MLS officials are waiting for him to go down. I’m not going to say flop or dive, but Hop is no stranger to the dirt. Good kid, quick as hell, but I can definitely understand why Jimbo (the tough defender from Philly) doesn’t throw him in. That being said, we’re so thin that I’d welcome any new faces in the game.

    • “They are supposed to be pros.”
      That was your 1st mistake. If that’s what you think you’re setting yourself up for constant disappointment.

    • John Ling says:

      Hoppenot up top as part of a 4-4-2? Sure, I’d be on board with that. He’d pair nicely with Sapong, I think.
      Out wide in a 4-3-3? That I’m not so sure about. That said… WSSW, so why not try something different and give a player a shot to grab a position and make something out of nothing.

  5. The Union are the worst organization and team in MLS. There is little to no MLS quality on the team to the point of being a joke, particularly when the topic of Hoppenot making any type of impact is resurrected. This fan base better start breaking out those protest signs again and this time keep the pressure on. Discussions about what happens on the pitch are a waste of time when the real issue is the ownership/CEO, front office, coaching and staff. It’s a freaking joke. 6 years 3.5 stuck on stupid. Cheap, the absolute worst!

    Sell this franchise to a competent and financially competitive ownership


    • Kevin Kinkead is my hero. What a great interview on “Soccer Morning Live.”

      Sell this team to a competent and financially competitive ownership!


  6. Great One says:

    Is he really complaining about not having time off?

  7. Atomic Spartan says:

    Jim, just watching the game live is demoralizing to the rest of us, so I agree, don’t show the Boys In Blue that shit show. But can you please show them the way? And since you concentrate so much on defense, can you please find someone who can show the lads how to attack? I mean in ways that don’t involve aerial crosses from the wings or sheannon’s throw-ins? Except for CJ we suck in the air – that should not be news to anyone.

  8. Personally I think they should be made to watch that tape of the game again and again and again. The rest of us watched how terrible it was it should be ingrained in their minds as what not to do. Especially EDU if I was coaching he would be getting ripped apart and would be watching that tape all season of how not to play and if he tries it again he would find himself on the bench. Just terrible. Plus who cares about Pfeffer what kind of question is that lets talk about how your going to improve this team. What are you going to change? Where do you find some damn leadership on this roster? Cause Edu is lacking in that department if you ask me. And can he stop saying he wants a defensive team after this team consistently gives up multiple goals a game. Your not going to win games 1-0 like you want cause you have no clue how to get a shutout. This team and their ineptitude make me so angry. Lets start at square one next practice organization and positioning followed by learning how to pass and trap. Once they become experts at these things we can move on. Although, I would say unlikely that this team moves on past organization and positioning.

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