Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement

Just to quickly look back on the Columbus game, a poor performance from us, especially in the first half. I think missing Chaco and Mo was a big factor, it’s obviously good to get them back this week in training with the group. Had a decent response in the second half but I think at that stage it was a too little, too late. Maybe could have caught a break and stole a point out of it but, overall, Columbus was the better team on the night, kind of dictated the tempo from the start.

Disappointed with the result; the guys are disappointed, the staff is disappointed, but we have to bounce back and put a good performance in against a Houston team that’s coming off of a difficult loss, as well. So, again, trying to get things going in the right direction before, obviously, the big Open Cup final.

Update on Maurice Edu’s injury status

We intentionally don’t play 11 v 11 a ton during the course of the season in training — I shouldn’t say that, we do every once and a while — but today was a day that was specifically to see him in n 11 v 11 situation, have him have to deal with the real spaces in closing things down and covering things. I think it’s sore — you can tell he’s gaining confidence in it — he has a little bit of soreness that comes with returning to play, getting back up to the speed of things. But, I’m going to trust Mo, he knows his body very well and how it will respond after today’s session will be important. I’ll talk with him after this and we’ll put a plan together, but the hope is to have him back and available for this weekend.

If he can’t play this week, is the plan to possibly play him away against New England or wait until the Open Cup? 

It’ll be too scary for me, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle it, not fair to Mo, not fair to the team, to throw him in just to the Open Cup. So, if it’s a situation where maybe he’s not ready for Houston we do at least give him live minutes in the New England game and then we kind of step back and evaluate if from there. But, you know, it’s not ideal, we wish Mo was just kind of flying right now and in as good of form as he was early on in the season and it was just seamless. But, injuries are a part of the game. He’s been our top player this year and it’s important that we get him back and on the field.

[Question garbled by phone interference/feedback]

Yeah, it’s complicated with the minor playoff hopes that we still have. They are fading, obviously, it’s not in our hands, we’ve let that slip away and it’s in Montreal’s hands, to be honest. They’re the team that team’s have to catch, they have to slip up. So, it’s a balancing act of putting a team on the field that you want to get a result, but also knowing that there is the Open Cup final, and getting the relationships as sharp and, as best we can, get guys confident because, you’ve seen our team, when we’re confident we can play with anybody; but, when there’s a little doubt that creeps in it becomes a situation where we have a pretty big drop off. I’d say on the road right now we’ve been confident, and then we haven’t put back-to-back games together so, strangely, in our last five [games] it’s 2-2-1 and the two wins are on the road and the two disappointing losses are at home. Part of that is quality of opponent, we’ve played two really good teams here at home that were clicking on all cylinders, their hot teams in the league right now, so that’s a little bit of a factor, as well. But, we have a Houston team coming in here that’s in a similar spot in the table in the West, outside looking in in the playoffs, so they’ll be desperate, as well. You have to find the balance of good performance and also an eye on that Open Cup final.

If you weren’t playing on turf the week before the Open Cup, would the plan change at all?

No — well, maybe with an injured guy like Mo — that maybe comes in and is a factor — who has a sore groin issue that the turf can tend to take its toll, so that is a factor. But, I don’t think — you know, listen, they’re professionals. There is an eye on [the] schedule, an eye on the fact that Kansas City is also has a busy time, a busy schedule right now leading in; they play on the Sunday against Seattle. So, you keep an eye on all that stuff, you do want to be fresh for a final.

The turf? Turf is turf. Talk to any player, they hate turf. They don’t like to play on it, it’s bad on their bodies. It’s a factor but, at the same time, they’re professionals, and to turn around and do it Saturday-Wednesday, there might be a guy or two that has to do that for us just numbers wise. But, yeah, it is a balancing. There’s a plan in place right now, we have a good idea at how we’re going to start each game but, you know, plans like that can change if there’s another injury or a result that doesn’t go our way.

The playoff chase is real, but do you almost have to put it to the side with the Open Cup final approaching? 

They’re both important. Obviously, making the playoffs is a huge goal of ours. Having to navigate getting to a final, we put a lot into the Open Cup this year, we’ve taken it very seriously as a club, we’ve had some good performances in it. One is not greater than the other, you can’t put a value on it. The reality is self-inflicted, we’ve done it to ourselves; we are on the outside looking in, that’s a little bit out of our control and all we can do is play the games that are in front of us, try and get results, and we’re going to need a team to slip up, like a Montreal. So, again, you keep an eye on all those games.

But, I did learn a lot from the Seattle game last year. I thought we were a fresh team going into it but we did play a lineup that kind of was repeated and played again in the final. So, I won’t have any regrets this year, I’ll play a fresh team, completely fresh team, in the final.

Is it easier to work Edu back in at center back coming off of the injury?  

Yeah, exactly. It’s less running, certainly. The ground that you cover as a center back is less. In some ways, with the pain and the fitness level, maybe it keeps Mo at home a little more. In midfield, the tendency will be to run and break up a ton of plays — might not be the best thing on a groin that’s bothering you a little bit. So, again, we’ll evaluate it the whole we, we’ll see how Mo responds, and we’ll do what’s best to try to get a result. I am happy with this last game; even when you look at the goals, yes Columbus certainly outplayed us in the first half but — you know, I’m always critical and tough — but the two goals you look at, you know, Richie jumps at the near post, goes to clear it with his head, kind of just gets a piece of it, and goes Kei goes in at the back post. A little fluky. And then good service from Afful and a scramble where now where Kei doesn’t make great contact with it, Johnny looks like he’s getting across, and it kind of — bang bang — hits Steven and kind of changes the trajectory of the ball. Again, Columbus deserved the result, but the two goals  weren’t the fault of the goalie or the center backs, it wasn’t big mistakes. So, again, I have to weigh all these things. It’s a big decision to make, that I’ll have to make but, listen, Mo and Chaco are two guys that make our team better, they’ve been two of our top players this year, two guys that have injected a little life into training and hopefully will help against Houston.

How has Maidana handled the suspension?

Chaco served his suspension; I won’t get into whether it was the right or wrong amount of games or anything like that. But, he’s served his time, now he’s itching to get back out on the field, pick up where he left off, which was setting up goals for us, which what he does best. I think he still has one of the best best left feet, foot, feet [chuckles] in the league, a guy who can break a defense down, a guy who can make the final pass. So, to add him back into the mix, whether it’s centrally or wide, is a good thing. Tranquillo’s had some good games in the center, was dangerous, and we’d like to get it to that point where there’s natural interchange during the game between the two of them, but that takes time, they’re getting more and more comfortable with each other. They both have different skill sets, bring different things to the team and are both very good players, so I’m happy to add Chaco back into the mix.

What’s the goalkeeping situation stand this week?

We have a plan in place for that that gives us the best option to win against Houston and also to maintain form for the Open Cup final. We’re still always looking for games to watch and to critique and to break down and see how we’re doing. There’s discussions with Paulo about what’s the best thing for confidence, because confidence goes a long way with goalkeepers. We have two very good young goalkeepers in John and Andre; the obvious one is that Brian is not eligible for the Open Cup final, so he won’t play a role in the build up to that. So, it’ll be the two guys you’ve seen recently and then we have, again, difficult decisions to make, but both guys are professionals and have been good in training. So, again, healthy competition and we’ll make the move that’s right to not only get points here in league but also win the final.

Why wasn’t CJ Sapong training today

Yeah, CJ had an excused absence today from training, something he had to take care of. But no injury.

Any other injury updates? 

Wenger had a collision with — it was with, I’m trying to remember back — with Ethan on kind of just a possession exercise, pretty physical, hard contact. His knee twisted a little bit and it’s taken a little longer than we thought. It’s on his left, so it’s not his dominant foot, but it still gives him a little pain when he strikes the ball so we’re being smart with that. Obviously, a guy you would like to have on the bench, a guy who you have an eye on for the final with, and you would also like to get back in some way, shape, or form as a sub against Houston and maybe to start against New England to get him going again.

Fernando Aristeguieta left training early

Yeah, just precautionary. He has a little soreness and he pushed through the first half of training and then kind of felt it so, again, I don’t want to do anything silly early in the week. While it’s Wednesday, it is a unique week in that it’s a Sunday game so we have that extra day and didn’t want to push anything to hard with him, so that was just precautionary. I pulled him, and Chaco you saw come out, he just got kicked in the ankle, nothing major, though.

Who’s idea was it to have the drone filming training sessions?

You know, at first, it was just kind of a casual, you know, let’s see what it looks like from up high, to view the training session with the drone. And then you get the footage back of it and you can literally…First of all, the quality is unreal in terms of the HD, and it can zoom in, and gives a nice broad picture as well if you want it; obviously, the height of it dictates that. So, we were pretty amazed with the clarity and the details that it covers on a full field transition exercise: You can see all the movements of your back four, you can see the shape of your team, you can see the runs your attackers are making, what spaces are open, and we’ve started to use it a lot just to break things down in terms of just trying to improve; you’re looking for every little advantage you can. So, we’ve kind of stumbled into it and it’s become a good tool, one that maybe it’s unique and a little strange to have that thing hovering over you during a practice but it gives you, certainly, a view you can’t replicate with a handheld on the sidelines or even the camera angles from TV. It’s a unique view and I’m open to sharing and showing what that looks like. It’s pretty impressive, though, and, again, something we’ll incorporate and have out there.

It’s also good to film all the exercises that we do in terms of building your catalog of exercises so when academy coaches or different coaches come in and want to see different exercises you have a nice running catalog of all that. So, it works in a lot of ways, it helps benefit the first team, and our players individually, but it also is good to build a catalog of the exercises we do and having the video to show, “Here’s how we do it.” So, it’s good.

Do you use the footage with the full team or is it something that is more for the coaching staff?

No, we’ve gone through, I sat on the plane to San Jose next to a couple guys and showed them some different things on it so, you know, every little advantage you can get goes a long way. Again, the view is a unique one, there’s nowhere to hide in it. Sometimes, on the TV, you watch the tape and you kind of wonder where your back four is, or you wonder how our guys close space, are they organizing, and this really gives you all 20 — if you’re playing a 10 v 10 — all 20 guys in there you can see them moving, how they’re linked together. So, it’s a unique view and one that, again is, maybe a little outside the box little advantage that can help us.

6 Comments

  1. Old soccer coach says:

    The drone filming practice is a nice idea.
    .
    Somebody check Bellicheck and the NE Patriots for spy drones!
    .

    Seriously, there will have to be rules. If you can attack a cave in Afghanistan from Arizona, you can film practice from Foxboro, or Harrison, or Chester, or Vancouver. Radar domes as part of practice field security here we come!

  2. “Have no fear, when I’m not coaching…I teach Qi Gong.”

  3. I love the turf…I most love falling down on it…as I am often to do and coming up with a tongue full of rubber pellets. The turf. Or how when I’m done playing on it the grimy film covers my legs and arms. I love the turf … I really like those days at YSC or Starfinder when its hot..you know Mid Atlantic hot…and the inside of the building smells like a steel belted radial or what the tire swing smells like when your inside it. Speaking of tires…my brand is Michelin because I really like the big white tired bellied guy and he makes me feel most safe in my automobile. I love the turf and the rubber pellets. I love the way they taste in my mouth. I think using them for fields is great cause a used tire pile to the sky is the only other thing I can think to use them for.
    .
    Do you love the turf. I love the turf. Turf. What a good idea. I like the sand fields and gravel fields of my youth a bit better. Sue my. Turf with tire pellets is a good idea I guess…as good an idea as laying sod on top of it. .
    .
    If you know the musical Rent, you could queue the rolling baseline to the song Santa Fe now…America. America, I am a sensitive aesthete…an aesthete given to liking grass. Thank you.

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