Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Opening statement

Just to reflect back on New York, not a result, obviously, that we wanted, but we had good moments in the game. You know, it’s funny the way it goes with our games against Red Bull. I think they said it as well, in the other two games the kind of dominated play, we win both of those. And this one, I thought we had the better play and they came out with three points. So, difficult, you know?

We move on. We have Orlando coming in, a good team that that scored five goals [last weekend]. We’ll take a look at their game tonight, obviously, against Toronto. They’re a little banged up, as are we, so it’ll be two teams that are fighting for points, that are trying to get into the playoffs. Eastern conference game — it’s big — and obviously an eye on the Chicago Open Cup semifinal that we host at home.

Again, our fans were amazing on the weekend, everyone was disappointed that we let them down, didn’t send them home happy, especially after we pushed to get the tying goal. To give up one quickly after was devastating, was difficult. But, at the same time, we have to pick ourselves up and know that we have two big games.

What’s the issue with the defense right now?

We concede, obviously, way too many goals. Even in what was a decent team defensive performance, we limited a very good Red Bull team to probably four real good looks at goal, and they scored three goals, they come away with three. So, the chances we give up are in extremely dangerous areas; in every situation we have enough bodies back to prevent a goal — you know, you look at the video and there’s five guys to their two, or, you know, four to their, you know, three — which we have enough bodies in there, it just comes down to making a play. Obviously, we’re not happy with how we’ve defended as a team this year, especially at home; to give up three goals at home is never acceptable. It’s something that we’re working on towards fixing. And, again, we’re not happy.

Is this a week we could see changes in the back? 

Yeah. We also have three games coming up in the week so we’ll take a look at, obviously, Orlando first and foremost and the importance of that game on the road, and what that game will take. But, yeah, you could see some changes to the backfield, possibly due to an injury. Mo has a little bit of a groin issue, so that’s a scary one that the MRI came back and he has a little bit of an issue there, so we’ll see if he’s able to push through and play through. But we do also have a big game on the following Wednesday as well against Chicago in the Open Cup semifinal too, so we have to be smart in how we manage it, and put [a] team on the field that can get points against Orlando and then, obviously, win in a game of consequence as they call where it’s win or go home.

How’s Richie Marquez doing, will he be available? 

Good. Yeah, Richie’s ready to go, which is a positive, gives us a real aerial presence, he’s a guy who wins things in the air. You look at the last two games, we’ve lost and missed a little bit of that, in particular, DC, the amount of crosses we get put in the box, to have a guy in there who really attacks the ball well will help. So, Richie has responded well to the ankle and he looks good.

How’s Steven Vitoria doing? 

Yeah, Steven’s pushing to get back in the lineup, he’s a guy who’s a competitor. Had a difficult one with an injury at a time when, again, as a team we weren’t playing good defensively. He’s fought his way back, he’s had a good week of training and we’ll see what the pairing is. But, again, we have some decisions to make. Anytime you give up the amount of goals we have, we’re not happy. There could be some tweaks and changes.

Do you still regard him as having to potential to be one of the league’s best defenders?

Yeah, he definitely has the potential. He’s been at big clubs, he’s got a better understanding of the league and the differences that this league has as opposed to Europe and in Portugal. Dealing with the athletic players, dealing with the speed of things, doing a good job attacking the ball, winning the ball — he’s adapted — slowly — to it, he’s starting to show in training now getting back to the form he was in in preseason. Again, injuries are tough. He’s bouncing back from that. A guy I still believe in and a guy that could play a role this weekend.

On Brian Sylvestre’s injury

The hand is…it’s still swollen. It’s close, it’ll be close to Saturday, making the decision there. But, yeah, it’s about five stitches that have been done two times now, he has some swelling in the area and, again, it’s an injury obviously to the hand for a goalkeeper is tricky. I think he could tolerate the pain — we’ll see. Obviously, Thursday and Friday will be important for his status for the weekend.

What’s the goalkeeper depth chart behind Sylvestre?

John has done a good job. If you look at the weekend, I don’t think any of the goals…Maybe the PK, he would tell you, because he’s hard on himself, if he leaves his foot, it just kind of bounced under, that was a tough one. But, the other goals, one’s a bang-bang play and the other one we’re pushing a ton of numbers forward and we leave ourselves exposed, it’s a 1v1. So, John’s been great lately. Obviously, the Open Cup is a factor on Wednesday, knowing that he will be the starter in that one, and he’ll have — you could look to Orlando as a way to stay sharp on Saturday depending on where Sylvestre is at, we’ll see. As of right now though, John would be our starter if Brian can’t go.

What’s the status of Andre Blake?

Andre continues to do better in training. He’s a guy who wee were hoping would get some minutes at the Gold Cup; unfortunately that wasn’t the case. He still continues, though, in training to get better each day and, right now, with the way things have gone, he would be behind Johnny, but he’s pushing. So, that’s where that one stands.

On Ray Gaddis

Ray is a top 1v1 defender in our league, you know? Yeah, he had a tough one Wright-Phillips on that one. We talked about it. In the game, he dealt with three different guys: he had Grella at first, then  Lloyd Sam, and then he also saw Wright-Phillips. So three different guys with all different skill sets. On the actual goal, Ray actually gets his foot on the ball. It’s one of those ones where if it hits his toe it probably goes further , far enough away from Wright-Phillips that the play is over. But, all things being what they are, the ball bounced straight into his stride and Wright-Phillips makes a good play on it. So, that’s the life of a defender: You can be good for 89 minutes — and I think Ray was on the night against New York — but one play is what everybody will remember. It’s kind of like being a defensive back in football, you know? You kind of have to have a short term memory. And Ray’s a winner, Ray’s a guy I believe in, he’s a very good right back. Obviously, the timing of Sheanon leaving and Ray not having his two best games — I don’t think there’s anything to it. I think he’ll bounce back and he’s a guy that, again, I believe in.

On the challenges presented by Orlando City and Cyle Larin

It’s a tough task. He’s a confident forward, confident forwards are very tough to deal with. Obviously, they put five goals up against a very good Columbus team, a lot of them on headers inside the penalty area, so, again, something we’ll need to work on this week, attacking the ball in the box. He’s lively, young, confident attacking player that’s living up to the No. 1 pick. He’s done well with it, he’s running with it, and scoring some goals. They also have Kaka, who’s a very good setup man, a guy we’ll have to locate, especially in transition. It’s a tough place to go and play. Everyone who’s been there already has given me lots of insight in how good their crowd is, how their field is, obviously turf, so it brings a challenge there. The heat down there is something, is a factor. Looked ahead at the forecast, it actually seems for Orlando in August, it’s not too bad. I think the high is 88, which isn’t that bad, you could catch it a lot worse down there. So, it’ll be a difficult, difficult road game. First time in the club’s history, obviously going there [in league play]. To go there and get points would be special.

 On the US open Cup draw, in which the Union, should they defeat Chicago, will need Kansas City to defeat Salt Lake in order to host the final.

Yeah, I just got word on it. Not perfect, but it’s positive, I think it’s good. We have a good opportunity if we take care of business against Chicago to host the game here at PPL again in the final. You know, being one game away from a final is an important step for this club, and winning these big games — games, again of consequence — is important for any new club. To get that first trophy is the hardest thing to do, and it’s something that we have unfinished business with, it’s been kind of our mantra the whole way through. Yeah, every game seems to go to overtime, and we go through a lot of adversity, but guys have rose to the occasion, and it’s a tribute to them, the 7-1 record we have in the Open Cup over the last two years. And, again, a lot of the games have gone to extra time, and they’re difficult circumstances, but the guys, to their credit, have stepped up in big spots. But, yeah, the draw is a good one, you know? If both home teams take care of business, that’s probably what we want first and foremost. To go to Salt Lake is tough, no question.

Will Tranquillo Barnetta play more this weekend or are you saving him for the Open Cup semifinal?

Yeah, we’re not saving him. He wants to…To his credit, he was a guy who came here in a spot where he could’ve said, “Coach, I’m not ready yet.” He wanted to help the team in any way possible. He’s a guy who this is his preseason, though, you know, you have to manage that. He’s pushed through some difficult sessions and is really gaining fitness and sharpness, so it’s exciting to watch him get better. Again, I give the guy a lot of credit to want to be a guy who wants to get right out on the field and contribute. So, happy with him right now and, again, I think there’s going to be a lot of positives in the future.

On being in last place: Is that meaningful, is it something the team discusses?

Of course. Like I’ve said to you guys before, the table doesn’t lie. After 34 games, it tells a true story. Has there been adversity? Yeah, but every team has adversity. We’ve had some really good moments, you know? You think of the way we played against Portland, the 3-0 game against Columbus. You know the he roller coaster of every time we seem to take a big step forward and look like a team that’s going to make a statement, we follow it up with a loss and take two steps backward. Again, the consistency still has not been there. I still believe in the group. The group still fights their butts off for me, and the fans, and the city, but we’ve come up short in a lot of ways and, yes, we do see where we are in the standings. It can change quickly,. You know, if you can get on a little bit of a two game winning streak in this league it goes a long way. But we are…I’m a realist. We’re running out of games, we’re running out of time. We have 11 games left, just under a third of the season, so every point matters, obviously, now. But, yeah, nobody’s happy with how this season has gone. Very disappointing in a lot of ways.

Anything else on the injury front?

Andrew still has symptoms from the concussion against Toronto. It’s been a while, so it’s a little concerning. I thought he was going to take the next step and be cleared this week bit that does not look like the case. Lahoud has trained very well in the past few days of training in what I would call very high intensity, hard days, and he’s responded well to that. So, Michael is available for Orlando, which is a good thing, a guy that can play a lot of different spots and can help us.

 On new transfers

We’re still looking, for sure. It always goes down to the wire, there’s different trade scenarios come up, teams are very active right now, good foreign players are being signed, good American players are being looked at. So, we’ll see what the next couple of days hold. But, yeah, we’re still looking to upgrade our roster. Obviously, we’re not happy with where we are in the table. Like I said, it’s a team that we know we have a good core, we have a good group that is committed and will fight, but we do need to add a little bit of quality, that extra bit that gets you, makes you special plays at the end of the game, the Sacha Kljestans where, you know, you keep them quiet on the day but then you look up and he has a goal and an assist. So, again, those are the difference makers. We’ll look to see if we can add something like that.

17 Comments

  1. Ed I can’t resist…
    .
    (….’uh guys before we get into this week’s shit show I just need to loosen this noose a bit.’)
    .
    as arbitrary as the choice of photos may be…
    .
    oh it’s all in good fun….don’t be mad at me fellow readers for the callousness- just a laugh at the manager’s expense. Even if the laugh is a bit maniacal…thanks to our beloved well functioning Union.

  2. people keep skating around it, but the problem with the union is jim curtin. he is conning the crap out of everybody. if sak is skimping on anything it’s on the coaching staff. dump them!

    • Wouldn’t be a stretch to argue he’s more of a victim. Young coach with potential thrown into a tough situation without proper support from the FO and a thin roster that has never really fit together quite right.

      • That argument held water earlier this year, but how many times do you have to see the guy make the same mistakes to realize that he’s just not cut out for the job? There’s a lot of things he can’t do, but his inability to change pretty much anything indicates that he shouldn’t be coaching at this level.

      • You’re incorrect. He has 5-6 MLS quality starters on the team. This is the pros, not college. Talent trumps system. Ethan White is one of his starting CBs. He has no GK. He has no true scoring threat. He has no outside midfielders. Kind of tough to win consistently with those limitations.

    • Yeah, dumping them will solve everything. Look, Jim’s been set-up for failure (just like Hackworth) and the team has, as well…

  3. 13 friggin losses! Curtin is shading the reality of being in dead last. SAK is a sack hangin’ betwixt the legs of an unseen owner! Touch yourself and wake up– make some changes–gel is needed ASAP!

  4. What does it say that Andre Blake isn’t getting any playing time. At all. Look Sylvestre has been solid. McCarthy solid…I guess. Andre Blake is 24 years old, isn’t a baby anymore and can’t get a pot to piss in. Nothing. NO thing. If he isn’t better than John McCarthy who by the way is a year younger….we are in trouble.
    .
    What gives? Correct me if I’m wrong but he was the first overall pick of the draft yes? That would be like Andrew Luck sitting the bench. That would be like Karl Anthony Towns playing in the developmental league. In the NFL this would be an absolute travesty. And another thing…didn’t we also draft Pedro Ribero with the 15th overall pick that same year. That one panned out well.
    .
    It is one thing for an overall #1 draft pick to be a bust its another thing to be completely unable to tell if the guy is any good at all…I’d rather see him fail and know the UNION screwed the pooch in drafting him than just assume he isn’t good enough to see one F#CK!NG minute of legitimate playing time and pop Prilosec every damn day.
    .
    Is he hurt?
    .
    Hang nail?
    .
    What gives! No really….WHAT GIVES. Really I want someone to push the manager on this issue and get an answer that is better than “Andre Blake is pushing Johnny in practice”
    .
    Make me sick. Make me putrid pissed off sick. Damn this club.
    .
    And I’m supposed to be excited about Weadstone FC and some guy with a smoke and a beer.

    • I go to
      Sleep tonight
      The same way
      I arose
      Staring at the ceiling fan
      Contemplating
      This woe.
      .
      Damn this club. No disrespect to Mr Hill above either.

    • “and I’m suppose to be excited about Weadstone FC and some guy with a smoke and a beer”…………….hahah +1! I’m still trying to figure that article out……..and whether to admire that guy or think he’s kind of pathetic………

    • I agree 1000 percent . . . injuries aside my only logical conclusion is that the cheapo owners are once again meddling and insisting he sit so he can keep his Generation Addidas status one more year. It’s like the Ruben Amaro experience where all players must play in the minors until they are 27 so they can retain their rights as long as possible.

      • The take I am starting to get on Blake is he just isn’t any good. Didn’t play for Jamaica and their goalkeeper in the gold cup wasn’t that good. And can’t play here and the Union goalkeepers aren’t that good. What this team should do is either trade Blake now where people are unsure of the potential/ or give him one game against and easy opponent let him impress and then trade him. I agree with the fact that you can’t be sitting a 24 year old first pick goalkeeper at this point when you have been struggling to find someone to solidify this team and backline for the future. However, as I always like to do just got to point out that this team gave up on 23 yr old who started over 100 games for them (MacMath). So go figure Blake will continue to just be a ghost on this team until his contract comes due and we get rid of him for nothing like everyone else.

    • OK, so think about what you said. Andre Blake was the #1 player taken in the draft. Don’t you think Curtin is aware of that, even moreso when leading a team that’s dead last in the league? Don’t you think that Jim understands that Andre Blake not playing is a huge negative attention grabber? So now use the human power of deductive reasoning…how f*cking bad must Andre Blake be in practice? Probably pretty f*cking horrendous.

      • And you are clearly willing to use your reasoning to assume that is it…only.
        .
        There is no way you can convince me John MCCarthy is a better goalie than Andre Blake and if he is what a colossal error by this club…worse even than signing Rais M’Bohli.

      • The Chopper says:

        I hate to bring up the unfortunate acquisition of Rais Mbolhi, but one of the reasons that awful fiasco took place is that no one in the Union camp thought Andre Blake was very good.

  5. Jim Curtin is a tool. I think he is lying about Andre Blake. It’s just my opinion, but I think he lies about a lot of things Union. The truth is that he is fooling no one. Just like all things Union he is a walking talking cliche. It’s the Union. Everything is so shady and secretive. Unfortunately coaching is still one of the main issues with this team and it’s starts with training and practice. There is something off about the coaching and staff. I thought we’d seen the end of that issue when Curtin took over. To me it’s same ole same old. The consistent injuries and the inconsistencies and the inability of “big salaried” players to live up to expectations is do to feckless coaching and training. They have some decent players but the supporting group is weak. Albright and Curtin don’t know how to bring in a solid LB,and now RB or find wingers who have MLS level skill with the ball. Teams that the Union consider their equals don’t seam to have that problem. They need a GM to the job not also rans like Albright and Curtin. Many of their so called academy prospects are opting for college and in my opinion they don’t think the Union are the way to go. I want his organization to put a top tier team on the field, get the fan base exited to sell out the stadium with actual attendance.
    More than anything I want this team sold to someone who has a solid futbol/Business mind who will put the pieces into place to make the Philadelphia Union a force in MLS and beyond!

  6. murphthesurf says:

    The heck with the regular season, face it, it’s over. ..
    play the kids, go All In for the cup.
    that is all…
    peace and Aloha ~
    murphthesurf.

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