Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: questions have been paraphrased.

Opening statement

Just to rewind to the New England game, tough result, one where I already talked about [how] we came out, actually had a few chances early. Credit to New England, I thought they were the better team on the night. Not enough urgency from our guys. I think New England did a very good job smothering Chaco, not letting us get out on the break. When we did, our passing wasn’t good enough. I thought we dumped too many balls, especially in the second half, didn’t maintain enough possession. And then on the goal, we fell asleep. So, good teams will punish you; I think New England is one of the better teams. I talked to our guys about it being a step up from our previous games, an opponent that, if you look at Jermaine, I thought he was the best player on the field. Lee Nguyen was a handful for us, and then Goncalves, a very good center back. So, right up the middle they had three strong performances and deserved the result.

Looking forward to San Jose, a team that’s in a good way right now, have gotten a lot of wins recently; good form after a tough stretch that they had. Will be missing a few guys with international duty but any Dom Kinnear coached team will be a dangerous one, and one that usually is playing well at this point in the season. He’s a great coach, always seems to win, and will be up for the task in San Jose.

Any word on any possible additional suspension for Cristian Maidana?

They’re still looking at it right now, nothing’s been finalized. We’re operating that it’s a one-game suspension. Any time there’s that you’re judging intent and what’s going through a player’s mind…Chaco, I spoke with him, he said it wasn’t intentional: he spit the gum out of his mouth, where it landed exactly you kind of can’t break down on the film. It was, unfortunately, in the direction of the player and the ref interpreted that it was deemed that he spit on him.  So, difficult.

There’s a process with the players union, we’ll see what happens in terms of that one if [a] statement is made on if there is additional games, and then we’ll go from there.

On the team playing without Maidana

Yeah, it’s difficult without him, he’s a top attacking player, so we’ll miss him. We’re missing our top defender, as well, in Mo, so it’ll be a difficult task. It’ll give, most likely, Tranquillo a chance to slide inside in a position we want to see him at so, in that regard, we’ll get a good look at that, at least for the San Jose game, and then someone will have to step on one of the wings. Whether it’s Ayuk, Andrew Wenger’s looked good again, so we’ll have to make a decision there. But, again, have to have a next man up mentality. Obviously, it hurts to miss your top two players, top two players this season form-wise, but, we’ll have to adjust and have to get points on the road.

Looking at past precedence for additional suspensions due to homophobic slurs or shoving a referee, is there anything to suggest what Maidana might receive?

Well, the spitting one is always the one that everybody finds is…for me, I’d rather get punched in the face than spit on. So, again, Chaco told me he didn’t intend that so, in that regard, we’ll…I believe him. So, again, we’ll have to evaluate. Comparing it to different things, I think every case is unique. You mentioned the homophobic slurs and things like that, they shouldn’t be tolerated, things like that shouldn’t be tolerated. They have a good committee that it goes to, guys that I’m friends with and old teammates that are on it, so there’s been some dialogue as to where they’re at but no official word has come forward yet. I’m kind of wait and see. But anytime you are judging intent, whether he meant it or not, is a gray area because only one guy really knows, you know, and that’s Chaco, Chaco’s the only one who really knows deep down the decision that he made.

There’s an appeal process. I don’t know yet until we have a final verdict of what the suspension is if there is additional games or not. We’ll find out and then we’ll go from there. But, yeah, I think there is no place in the game for it. There’s no place in the game for the bad tackles, homophobic slurs, whatever violations that are committed, and we’ll have to see what they decide.

What’s the process like internally talking to Maidana?  

I think in the game, he was frustrated from that, for sure, if we just look at the actual game. From that incident, even putting it in the referee’s hands to make a decision like that; first the foul and then, again, the referee, it’s his opinion of what he saw and what he viewed. I talked with Chaco about it, he gave me his side of the story, he’s adamant that it was not intentional, so I trust my players, I believe in them. Now, it’s kind of out of our hands. We can state our case and then they’ll make a decision.

If Maidana is not available for an extended period of time, are you thinking about changes in formation, perhaps to a 4-4-2 as has happened in the past when he’s not been available?

Yeah, we can go that route. Obviously, with Fernando and Conor kind of chomping at the bit to get on the field, it’s an option that we’ll discuss. We’ll obviously do what’s best for the team going forward. Knowing that he’ll miss San Jose could be an adjustment for this game, but also have to have a sight on the league games, but also the Open Cup final. I mean, we don’t want to get too drastic and be all the sudden changing the formation completely knowing that that game is out there, as well, because we are at our best with Chaco on the field. So, to prepare without him is a risky one until we know the final verdict on the suspension.

On Tranquillo Barnetta

I thought his last game against New England was his best one, his most active and dynamic that he was. There’s still an issue with the minutes that we have to be smart with. Was tempted to leave him on longer but there was…the game got a little stagnant and needed something, something drastic, so we decided to go to first Ayuk and then the two forwards. So, again, I thought it was his best performance. You wish he got on the end of the one that bounced to him in the box that he put just wide, you want one of them to fall so he can get past that first big play. He’s had some good service, some good crosses, he’s a good all around player; intelligent, gives us some quality in possession, and I’m happy with where he’s at. But, like any coach, you want even more, you want the big impact on the game, making the final pass or getting the goal. Hopefully, that’s coming soon.

On elimination from the playoff race dragging on because Montreal has so many games in hand

They have a tough schedule, I think if you look at their schedule, it’s pretty brutal going forward. So are a lot of teams, you look at everyone’s schedule, you take a peek ahead, everyone has a difficult road. For us right now, we’ve put ourselves in such a hole that it’s out of our hands, you know, and we don’t deserve to dictate things anymore because we’ve dug such a deep hole. We’ll have to approach each game, and have a stronger performance in each game, and kind of build on that with an eye on winning each one, taking each one one game at a time and try to get results. If you find yourself back in the mix in the end, you guys know as well as I do who plays who and, you look ahead at the schedule and the last game is Orlando, one of the teams that is in the mix, as well. So, again, there’s still a possibility  but we’re not happy with where we are, and we’ve set ourselves up for a very, very tough stretch, a tough fight and, to be quite honest, it’s amazing that we still even have an option. And we let a big opportunity go this past weekend against New England; we’re all disappointed from that and hopefully we bounce back.

If Maidana ends up with a multiple game suspension, how does that complicate preparations for the US Open Cup final?

It’s complicated. It’s very complicated. It’s complicated with Mo, as well. What is the timeline? We have a plan in place already for him and how we’re going to approach it each day and also what’s the right amount of games for him to have before you give him that big of a game in the final. We have a plan, hopefully his rehab continues to progress and it’s seamless and we can get him the necessary minutes before a big game in the final because you need live action to be ready for a big moment like that. Chaco would be the same thing. We’ve already discussed and, at least, talked about it because there is the possibility of a longer suspension, to at least be prepared, whether it’s getting a friendly for Mo and Chaco down the road to maintain that game fitness, whether we bring in an academy group, or whatever that looks like, just to keep them sharp, as sharp as possible. An outside team could give a good test, there’s intrasquad things you can do, but there is no fitness like the game. So, we have to really monitor that. It makes it tricky. Kansas City’s doing the same type of stuff, they have little injuries that are going on, as well, with their group, trying to get guys back. So, it’ll be down to the final weeks in preparation and it is a little unique this year in that you have such a long kind of buildup to it. So, again, you’ve got to find that balance of not being overly conservative not wanting to get guys injured versus just continuing to play, all the while trying to push for good results down the end.

On the question of whether there’s precedent with past additional suspensions being handed down with spitting

I would just say, again, they’re all case-by-case basis. I can remember back when Ricardo Clark kicked Carlos Ruiz in the head and you’re kind of going, “This is new, how the heck are they going to respond to this,” you know? This is a unique one because it involves gum, bubble gum, I’ve not seen that. I know Chaco chews gum when he plays, he spit it out during the foul at the end of the game and, again, it’s a unique one, it’s a strange one. It’s kind of out of our hands. Again, Chaco can give his side. I believe him. From there we’ll go and it goes into the league’s hands. But, every case is unique. To compare one to the other is very difficult. Spitting has come up in our league but it’s been with actual spit — and you can always tell when someone is spitting on someone because it’s pretty face-to-face and it’s clear. This one it’s not clear on the video, you can’t really tell a hundred percent if that’s what he was trying to do.

On Andrew Wenger playing left back in Monday’s friendly against Harrisburg City Islanders 

Andrew played left back. A little bit of it is it’s a position where he can have the game in front of him. He’s played on the left side before, it’s a little slower pace, it’s not as end-to-end for him. He’s been good defensively this year so you start to put those pieces together, you know? But mainly it was just for fitness purposes, I didn’t want him to have a ton of minutes as an attacker where he’s just gassed by 45, and we didn’t have a ton of guys available with the unique Monday game, having played Saturday. So, it was a little bit of that, it was a little bit of, yeah, here’s an opportunity to take a look at a guy in a different position. You could say he did very well there, actually, he as able to play balls good with his left foot down the line, can cut in on his right and switch the point of attack, so it was good, it was positive. But, mainly the exercise was to get him ninety minutes and it’s a little less stress on you at [left] back and you can kind of slow down, you’re not always under pressure, there’s not always someone up you’re back, so he kind of gets to survey the field from there. It’s also healthy for him to see what the angles are like when he had someone in front of him, just the different ways that guy cuts off things — the job he’s usually doing. Now, it’s clear to him, ins and outs of the game that he can kind of pick up and maybe grow and improve on. But, mainly a fitness exercise and I couldn’t run him out for 90 minutes at the forward spot. But he did do good there.

Did he play there in college?

No, he was a central guy, he played center back, center midfield, and then striker, and had success at all of them. There’s different people that you talk to in the country that think he’s a center back, some say no chance, he’s more of an attacking guy. Again, there’s opinions that happen in soccer. I have a good idea of what I see him as, and that’s a left-sided winger that can give teams fits like we saw a lot last year, and he’s trying to get that form back again now.

Who is likely to start in goal this weekend against San Jose? John McCarthy?

Right now, yes, I lean towards John. Andre’s obviously away with Jamaica, we knew that part of the plan. Brian Sylvestre’s returned to training this week for the first time so, again, he’s not going to have the sharpness, not going to be up to speed right now. But, the cut has healed completely and he’s cleared officially to resume training, so that’s a positive step. Johnny will do a good job for us on the weekend like he has done in the past.

Is it hard on McCarthy to come back after a two-game layoff? 

Yeah, I mean, you’re a pro, a professional player. When you’re called upon he’s done a good job whether it’s the Open Cup stepping up when he’s been out for a little while, so he’s adjusted well to it. Would you have liked for there to have been someone just grab ahold of it and just run with it? Yeah, but we’ve had injuries, international duty, and different things that have kind of affected that. So, you wish it was just one guy but we’ve had a bit of a merry-go-round at goalkeeper this year, to say the least.

Is this an audition for McCarthy for starting the Open Cup?

Of course, yeah, everything’s competition. You know, every game you go out there — obviously, you look to win — you look to perform to help your team and, yeah, it’s competition. Every time you put in a good performance the coaches obviously take note. We expect him to do that, he’s done a good job for us this year and we expect more of the same.

Anything on the injury front? It looked like CJ Sapong left training early.

He just caught a…he has a quad injury, nothing torn or stretched or anything like that. He got hit pretty good in the game so it’s just tight. He said he has some pain when he decelerates but it’s nothing that will prevent anything on the weekend.

Thoughts on MLS better adjusting to international window

They talk about it a lot. They do, they really do, try and get closer to the schedule. This game actually, the San Jose game, was initially scheduled for earlier on in the year when the schedules came out a long time ago but it was jammed in the middle of a — I believe it was some crazy road trip where we were like LA, Orlando, back to San Jose — something, I can’t remember the exact thing, but we requested that it get moved, and they did. In hindsight, we’re missing Andre, they’re missing a couple of good pieces, as well, but they take in a lot of variables into the scheduling, it’s a very difficult job. The international windows are times when everybody wants our best players on the field during the weekends, you know, that’s the best advertisement for our league. You’re seeing a lot of players getting called in, which is really positive. But, you also want them to be here in the games, especially at this point of the year when everybody wants their best team out there — for the fans, it’s best, for the coaches, it’s best. But, I don’t envy that task though of getting all…playing through the summer like we do and having the times to shut down. It’s difficult, it’s [a] difficult scheduling job. But, yeah, that one originally wasn’t the weekend we were going to be playing.

The team now has an open international spot with Rais Mbolhi gone. Is that something we should expect to see movement on?

We’re looking, yeah, we have a couple guys that we’re looking at. Obviously, they’re guys that are free from contracts at this stage and, yeah, there’s a couple of options we’re exploring. That’s why we were able to make that move, which was positive to clear some not only cap space but also roster spots.


  1. ‘Aloha. Mr name is Mr Hand and I have one question for you. Can you attend my class’

    • el pachyderm says:

      Too bad those lines are so good and my damn thumb botched it up.
      Once again then…
      ‘Aloha. My name is Mr Hand and I have but one question for you. Can you take my class?’

  2. Far, FAR too many questions about Chaco’s forthcoming supsension…

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