Press Conference

Transcript: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement

I thought last week was a very emotional week, a lot of highs and lows. I thought that the semifinal game against Chicago was one where we had a very professional performance, played very well. limited their chances, did a great job in getting to that final. Very happy with the group.

Fast forward to the weekend, a little bit of a wild game. Still probably created enough chances to do enough to get three points, have the high of Sebastien’s goal, and then the low, the lowest of lows, of giving up the late equalizer. We broke that down in the film room a lot — have to learn from it, have to better from it, have had entirely too many dropped points and late game collapses as a club in this season. Something we need to fix.

It’s no secret —  I’m a realist with you guys, I’m honest with you guys: — we’ve not been good enough from a defensive standpoint, we’ve given up entirely too many goals and rank at the bottom of the league in goals given up as well as save percentage. So we’re at the bottom of the league in that, as well. In the critical moments in front of goal we’ve come up small, and it’s something that will have to get fixed, not only for the regular season games, but, obviously, going into a final against a strong Kansas City team.

After a crazy week like that, how is it in the locker room?

Good. We had a hard film session where we talked through the break downs. There were positives in the Chicago game. You know, Sean Johnson made seven or eight really good saves to keep them in it. The key point that we stressed was to get that…we had opportunities to go up 3-1 and not taking chances is also a reason why it comes down to, you know, you let any good pro team hang around. You see in our league now leads get blown, and mistakes happen if you let quality players have opportunities on the ball. Columbus had it just last night where they get a great start, should probably be up 2-0. It happens in our game, it happens too much for us.

The group, though, is upbeat, is positive, because we are excited about being in the final. But, they all do realize it needs to be better in terms of team defending, getting that part right. We look forward to Montreal and it doesn’t get any easier with the likelihood of Drogba being on the field, and I just saw Ciman will now be back; he’s a guy we weren’t preparing for — top center back in the league for me– looks like he’ll be back in time for the game, which is not good news, but something we’ll have to deal with.

How does the Drogba factor play into this weekend? No one’s seen him with Montreal.

I mean, everyone’s aware of Drogba. It’s been a while since he’s played a match. Obviously, it brings a real excitement to the league, the place will be sold out. Last time we’ve been there it wasn’t sold out so, obviously, the atmosphere will be more electric, more dynamic, louder, from that standpoint. Everybody will be there to see him and cheer him on but they have a lot of other dangerous pieces on the field: Piatti is for me one of the top guys in the league, Ciman I already mentioned at center back. So, they’re a very good team, Frank Klopas has them playing very well. They still have a ton of games in hand on teams, so it doesn’t tell the true story where they’re at in the table, they could be a team right up towards the top.

So, Drogba, obviously, is the name everybody will talk about, but they’re a very good team. Him being there, obviously, will bring the fans in and create a very good atmosphere, and a difficult environment, to play in; similar to Orlando when we went on the road there with all the fanfare around Kaka, and the Brazilian fan base they have there, a pretty special environment. I expect the same in Montreal with the addition of a legend like Drogba.

Is it any tougher because it is Dogba’s first game?

Yeah, I mean, we don’t know if he’s going to start, we don’t know a hundred percent. You know, they said debut would be made so, again, you can read into that what you want. I think the likelihood is he’ll be on the field but, if he’s not and it’s Dominic Oduro, that’s a handful, as well, he’s got some pace to get in behind. So, either way, we’re prepared for a good striker to be in there for them. Drogba’s obviously a guy who if you want to get into a wrestling match or physically battle with, you’re going to lose. That’s clear– all over the world that’s clear. All top goal scorer of all time, very good in the air — a guy you don’t have to show your guys a lot of film on because they know who he is, they know where he’s been, and they know what he’s done. If he’s out there as a starter, we’ll have to have not only our two center backs focused on him, but also a holding mid coming back to try to help out and win balls off of him in that regard. The hope is that he’s not 90 minutes fit , I don’t know where he’s at from that standpoint. We’re preparing like he’s starting the game though.

Is there extra pressure on the team facing a Montreal side that has four games in hand?

We’re running out of games in league, we know that. We’ve dug entirely too deep of a hole for ourselves. We’re not happy with where we are. I’m not happy with how the season’s gone. We have to go out against Montreal and put in a good performance, and there is urgency that ties last this past weekend don’t really do us any good in the standings. You have to push the right way to get three points, on the road and at home, from here on out because the one point doesn’t really do you any good at this stage. So, we’ll have to push in the right way — if the game is tied late we can’t be conservative and be just happy with one point.

Maurice Edu’s injury status

Mo’s a guy who would be great to have on the weekend, it would’ve been great to have against Chicago the second time. But, he played through an injury that was a major risk for him to even be on the field. I give him a ton of credit to go out there for the club, for the fans, and put himself at risk. His groin is still partially torn. It’s not something that the doctors would advise playing through but he wanted to do it in that situation to get us to a final, and know that he had time to heal after that.

So, he has not healed at all, he’s not raining with us currently. It would be a miracle if he’s ready by the weekend; I don’t anticipate that. But, at the same time, he got us through that key game against Chicago in the Open Cup semifinal, and he deserves a lot of credit for doing that, playing injured through the pain.

On the injury status of Brian Sylvestre

He also reopened the wound in his hand. It’s something that has been sown together now twice. It split today in training; he was back in live action yesterday and then today and, at some point during the session, he split it open again. It’s in a tough area of his hand, kind of in the webbing of his hand, and it just won’t heal. So, it’s difficult.

Any thoughts on Andre Blake getting a start?  

Yeah, we’re thinking about it, we’ll make a decision. Andre’s been called in with Jamaica coming up in about three weeks from now and there’s the possibility that it makes sense to give him a game or two. We’ll see.

Anything else on the injury front? 

Wenger just…Today was the first day he was in the non contact part of practice with us, in terms of doing a technical exercise, getting involved in some of the crossing drills we did for our defenders. He was in a free role but he was was without contact out wide, and he served in some balls and he actually looked, for a first day back, looked pretty sharp, which was good.

Is Vincent Nogueira back?

He’s close. He, obviously, missed about a month of time now. Fitness is the issue. I think he’s healed completely and ready to go in that regard, looked like himself in training today and yesterday. The one conversation is just, you know, you obviously lose fitness when you have to shut down with a quad injury. You can ride the bike and do all the little things, be in the pool all you want, but that game fitness is kind of the last hurdle. He will play a role this weekend, it’s still to be determined whether it’s as a starter or off the bench.

There are reports out there about Rais Mbolhi trialing with Bolton. Is there truth to the reports?

Yeah, we did allow him to explore that option so he is out on a trial right now.

Is it Bolton?

Yes.

On the team announcing the launch of a USL team

It’s excellent, it’s a huge step for the club. It kind of…I’m grateful to Jay Sugarman for coming through with that, a huge, huge step for the club. I think it’s that link between now our academy, which is strong, [and] that kind of 18 to 23 age range of players that kind of there’s no — there’s a real gap there and this kind of bridges the gap to the first team. Great resource for me to send our draft picks, our guys who need good games, and the proximity is the key. They’ll be training with us every day at the same facility. To be in and around it — you talk about culture, and getting the culture improved and better, it really leads towards that. Rich Graham has done a great job getting the academy going but this is kind of that final, final link.

So now we have a Union II team to be named — I won’t call it Union II — but it’s going to be a special, special thing, and to have it in the Lehigh Valley is, historically — there’s a lot of history there. They’ll train with us and play their games up at a really, really cool venue where I think they’re going to have really good support. And, it’s important for our young players to get games, big games. You think of Richie Marquez as the example last year of one that got to play 30-plus games in a USL environment and has thrived now with our first team. To have that team be our own team now, we have a lot more say, a lot more control in the goings on of the day-to-day operations. Just because the proximity and them training with us every day, there’s overlap of players — academy players will see USL  players, and then will also have interaction with first team guys. And all the staffs working together — it’s just the way it should be, and it’s really an exciting thing that we were able to get that piece done.

Anything new on the roster front in terms of international spots with Nogueira coming back?

Yeah, Vincent will be available, that’s not an issue, so everybody, everything is clear in that regard. All the guys that you saw out there today are available to play roster-wise. And the call back from loan, he was available with US Soccer for the Open Cup even, as well.

Is this something Green Card-wise or another mechanism?

I don’t know what you guys know or don’t know. Fabinho has a Green Card. Officially. You already knew that though, I fell like, didn’t you? No? Alright, good.

We knew was on the verge of it

Ok. Gotcha.

19 Comments

  1. Mr. Farnsworth you arbitrarily made this an easy one even though the picture on this page differs from the picture on other page so I chose the other page.
    .
    Jim Curtin at a poker table in the Borgata, ‘I’m all in.’

  2. If this team somehow forges ahead against SKC, particularly in waning minutes then relents a gol in the minute(s) following I will be apoplectic. Especially if it is because I see the defenders in a mad streak down the field to jump on The Striker after go ahead gol…. Instead of readying themselves.
    .
    A.P.O.P.L.E.C.T.I.C

    • i’m hoping that sunday will be the last time we see something like that. curtin so rarely calls people out during press conferences so maybe the players will really take that criticism in and not make that mistake again

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Hopefully some one with the technical staff is breaking down tape of how the Earthquakes got some many goals on SKC. I gather on the margins that Feilhaber Red came late, and I know that several of the Quakes goals were early., so it probably is not due to the red card..
    .
    Priorities are to heal Edu and get Nogueira to 90 minute fitness. It is time to give Blake a chance, also. Curtin’s cannot let the team’s morale be damaged, but they now have to win both at home and away, and they’ve done poorly away.
    Satisfaction now must come from destroying opportunity for other teams rather than creating it for us.
    .
    Vitoria Marquez will be our center back pairing for at least the next two weeks, and then Mo will need some time to recover lost fitness. So the next three have the potential to be brutal.

    • The one positive for me, with Mo being out, is that it gives Curtain and Albright an opportunity to evaluate Vittoria. The next few games should determine whether or not he should be here next year. So far I’m on the side of not. Especially at that $450k number.
      .
      As for KC, from what I saw of the highlights, their man marking in the box was terrible. Two of the goals were headers I believe. Wondo was open and should have scored a third goal. They steamrolled a guy in the box, who basically had a free shot on goal, and gave away a PK. Their defense looked like it was in shambles really.

    • The one advantage Philly has on Sept. 30 is that KC will be seriously fighting for playoff position in the league. Curtin may still be giving lip service to the playoffs next month (assuming we don’t go on a losing streak that really eliminates us mathematically) but the U will really have nothing else to play for. It will be KC’s 3rd match in 8 days with a game at Houston on Wed. Sept. 23 and home against Seattle on Sunday Sept. 27. The U play New England away on Saturday the 26th and should rest all important starters.

      Cup now has to be everything.

      • resting important starters: not something we have seen from any coach this team has had in its short history

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Novak was better at it, as arbitrarily random as the patterns seemed to be. To be fair information was harder to get then, and he, having begun life behind the iron curtain, seemed militant about secrecy.

      • We don’t exactly have the depth of roster to rest our starters.

      • Sure we do! Check out this fear-inspiring 4-1-3-2 lineup:

        G-Blake
        D- Creavalle, White, Orange Cone that used to play goalie for M’Bohli, Lee
        DM- Lahoud
        M- Pfeffer, Fred, McLaughlin
        F- Hoppenot, Casey

        Oh wait, Curtin would never start McLaughlin…..

      • That’s right. that’s your starting XI, including the cone. Play Lee. Play Bird. Start Wenger at LB. Borrow some Harrisburg reserves. Whatever it takes.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        No more Harrisburg, they just hired three guys to finish the rest of their season. I took that as the end of the relationship between the technical staffs however the CEOs may try to spin it.

      • Sorry.
        .
        I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

      • el pachyderm says:

        I would just like to know is it a 24″ or 36″ orange cone.

  4. Is it just me, or does Jim Curtin look like he is biting his tongue/angry/uncomfortable every single time he has to utter Andre Blake’s name? What is his issue with the kid?

    • el pachyderm says:

      I’m hoping this is all about Generation Adidas.

      • I’m a novice with some of these terms. Why would that be a reason?

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        El P will speak for himself I am sure. What occurs to me is that, when I last looked at the GA rules in reference to Mwanga, there were thresholds of minutes played that, if surpassed, removed the player from GA status and the several exemptions from salary cap and roster rules that GA status confers. I cannot go further responsibly without refreshing my memory of those rules. A place to start used to be in the fine print links at the very bottom of the page on the MLS website.

      • Thanks OSC. That makes sense.

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