Postgame

US Open Cup Final postgame video and transcript: Union 1-1 (6-7 APK) Kansas City

Postgame wrap with Mike and Eli

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Postgame interviews with Jim Curtin, Michael Lahoud and Andrew Wenger

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Note: Union quotes transcribed by PSP, all other quotes provided. Questions have been paraphrased

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Opening statement

Not a ton of words after a night like that. First off, congratulations to Kansas City, Peter Vermes. A very good team, a team that’s lifted a few trophies. We continue to try to find our first. It’s the hardest thing to do in our game and the past two years have been an example of that. I think this year we’re as close, probably even more close than Seattle. The building’s ready to erupt and we came up a little short in penalty kicks. At that stage, it can go either way.

First half I thought we pushed the tempo. We’re sitting on the sidelines saying we need a second goal, we need a second goal. I thought KC was a little vulnerable in that first half. Especially once we scored, it kind of opened up and we had some chances as they pushed. Didn’t make the final play in the box to get that goal, a couple unlucky bounces. On another night it could go our way, but for some reason it just doesn’t. That’s a difficult thing in this building.

Our fans were amazing. They stuck with us, like they always do. The atmosphere was all we could have asked for. Again, all I can say is sorry for not delivering something that we’ve talked about achieving. Again, it’s the hardest thing to do in our game and it’s elusive for us right now. No fault of my players, they put everything into the game, emptied their tanks for me. It set up alright in terms of at the 120 minute mark getting Johnny in there to maybe finish the thing and it just didn’t go our way.

Again, credit to KC. A very good team, a team that has a bunch of winners.

Can you take us through the decision to bring John McCarthy in when you did? When did you know you were gonna do it?

Yeah, I mean, it’s some we that talked about all week. We were kind of a bit against it because you never know how a game is gonna go, there’s a million different variables that go on. An example would be Kansas City had three guys get injured and those were their three subs.

If I had a sub left and it got late into the second extra time I thought about it, early on in the week, and that situation came up. All of the guys on the field felt fine at that moment, and I told Conor before the extra time started that if it got to around 120 to have a cramp, I guess you’d say. And we got Johnny in there, that part was fine. Andre was excellent in the game it was just kind of a gut thing, where he is special at PK’s. He shows it in training every day and we went with it. Again, on another night it works, but tonight it didn’t.

How do you as a coach manage Blake and McCarthy?

Andre’s first words when he came off the field were ‘Yeah, we’re in this together. We support each other.’ They have a good relationship. Two young goalkeepers that have a tremendous amount of upside. Andre played a very good game. I thought the goal they had was not saveable, it’s a world-class finish. Kind of stunned us a bit. I think we had a point in the game where second half looked like a final in that was a little disconnected, and rain played a role in that, some guys slipping around and falling.

Andre had a great game. Johnny’s in there for the PKs and made a save but just wasn’t enough today.

Before the PKs Maurice Edu was limping pretty bad and then missed his PK. Was there a conversation with him about his health, possibly using the sub there?

Yeah, we talked to him. He let us know he felt okay. It was one of those quick ones where we’re having to assess him because it happened right at the end of time there. He tested the knee out, ran on it, and he’s a pro, he doesn’t want to come out of a game like that. It would be a tough spot to throw a center back in too at that stage, if Mo could continue, and he could. I don’t think it had any affect on his PK. He said he was fine so that’s all hindsight.

Another first half where you dominated the play but couldn’t get that second goal. What do you need to do differently to get this team over that hump where they can put the game away when they should early on?

I was really happy with how we played in the first half. At halftime we talked about having that killer instinct to get the second goal. I said to them I think there’s going to be more goals in this game, it’s critical to get the next one, us going up 2-0; or them tying it, which wound up being what happened. It’s a little bit execution, a little bit of ball bouncing your way. Their goalkeeper was good on the night, made a few saves to bail them out. But, when you have a team a little bit — I’m not saying we had them on the ropes — but we had them a little bit scrambling in the first half, it is critical to take advantage and get that second goal. I’m kind of at a loss for words. I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses or anything like that because Kansas City is a good team.

Andrew Wegner has had a tough year, it’s not been his season. Did you have any concerns about his confidence/mentality when you put him in the game?

Not when I put him in, the thinking is fresh legs. The thinking isn’t he’s gonna be our eighth shooter, that’s not really the way it goes. So, you put him in for the fresh legs, CJ was gassed, he emptied his tank and put in a ton of work, and was kind of gassed. We made the move thinking that if Andrew could get on the ball, with his speed maybe he can go by — their back line was all at that stage cramping up and struggling a little bit. So, the thinking is maybe he get on the end of one and make a run in the box. And then there’s still a little bit of time left, so, it was a situation that happened.

It has been a tough year for Andrew. He knows that, he doesn’t hide from it. When it goes to penalty kicks, [an] unfortunate part of it is someone’s going to wind up being the one that misses. You don’t hold that against them, it’s part of the game. They’re all professionals. Credit to KC. They stepped up in big spots and hit some pretty unreal penalty kicks from guys that I didn’t expect. But, this is the way it goes.

The second goal, is that about Kansas City being a team with experience on a night they didn’t play well to stay in the game?

I think a little bit. I mean, they grinded it out. I still think they made enough mistakes that we could have punished them. They didn’t play the perfect game by any stretch. It was your typical final where it’s always not the prettiest. It was a little more end-to-end, actually, than some finals I’ve seen. Probably more chances than some finals I’ve witnessed. Again, it’s tough to come up on the wrong end. Besler back there is an anchor, an experienced guy who’s been through the battles internationally. That helps, for sure. But, they made the big tackles in the box, the blocks that preserved us going up going up a second goal, which would have changed the game a lot. They would’ve had to chase then and it would’ve opened up and obviously helped us with our counter attacking. But, again, it’s over.

Losses hurt. Is there a more open feeling about coming out of this game just with the group you have?

Listen, I love my players. They fight for me. They kill for me. They’re great guys. I want them to have the feeling — there’s guys that have the feeling of lifting a trophy but to do it together is special and it changes things forever with your group. Winning a trophy is permanent. I’m hearing them [Kansas City] cheer right now and it makes me want to throw up. It’s part of it, this is why you play the game.

We had the opportunity in a final, in front of our home crowd, and we came up a little short. I won’t hide from that; if anyone wants to pass blame or anything like that, I’m right here. It goes to me because my players played a great night, had a great night.

Do you think your guys were aggressive enough after the first half?

Yeah, I do actually. To be honest, it did feel comfortable, it felt comfortable. We got up one, they had chances. Second half started, it’s a little scrappy and maybe not as clean; the rain starts a little harder so guys are falling down. You thought it would be a game where if we don’t make just a blunder or big mistake we could survive with one goal. Zusi makes a play, toe pokes it across, and Nemeth hits a shot that’s not saveable. Credit to them, you tip your cap. But, at the same time, I was torn (?) at half saying that it would probably take another goal. But I do still think we could’ve grinded out a 1-0 win if the kid doesn’t hit the great shot.

Jim Curtin’s off the podium remarks

On the loss

It’s a shame. You try and learn from these experiences as best you can even though right now everybody’s crushed and devastated, just like all the fans

You do look at the positives. Tranquillo was excellent on the night, I thought he had a special night. But, at the same time, he doesn’t care, he wants to win a trophy. SO that kind of goes for nothing.

On the team executing the gameplan

The guys executed everything I could’ve asked, they really limited a good Kansas City team, I don’t think they had a ton of clear looks at goal, everything was at least contested. It’s just a tough one, man. They’re a good team, and Nemeth makes a great play, hits a world-class goal. And we weren’t able to get the second one.

On substituting John McCarthy in for the penalty kick

It was just kind of a gut thing. We thought about it earlier in the week; if it got to that stage and we still had a sub to use  — you think about it — and we talked about it, and we went with it. John made a good save on the one — didn’t expect it to go eight shooters, that’s for sure, or however many it wound up being. But, it’s difficult, those things, sometimes they can go your way, sometimes not. Andre played a great game, John did the best he could, and we came up a little short.

The team was devastated after last years Open Cup final loss to Seattle. How do you recover from this one?

We’re double devastated now. I don’t know, it’s bad. I mean, there’s no worse feeling than losing a final, and we’ve done it now twice at home. So, it’s hard. It’s hard to get the guys back up and motivated, but we have to, we have three games left in the year. It’s just a challenge to try to find positives in what was, again, so close to being a really special night. It’s a fine line in our game, though, between the wins and losses. So, we’ll try to keep them upbeat as best we can, but I’d be lying if I said it’s going to be easy to bounce back from. It’s a tough loss.

Michael Lahoud

What’s the feeling like in the locker room?

What do you think? Next question.

Take us through your penalty kick.

Last night I went to bed and I had a dream that I was going to take the sixth PK, and that’s what happened. And, in my dream, it was the PK that won it taking the sixth PK and I won it and that’s not what happened. But, I felt confident throughout the game and it wasn’t any different going up there. It felt like if I just hit it hard — I know where I usually go — and once I hit it I knew it was a goal.

What did you think of McCarthy coming on as a sub?

John’s been a part of this magical ride. It was very unfortunate that he wasn’t able to do some of the things that got us this far. But hats off to him, Andre. Especially our goalkeepers, it’s been a crazy year with injuries and everything — I would know — but each of those guys has stepped in when called upon. I thought Andre played a hell of a game tonight, and it’s not an easy thing for someone, a young goalkeeper in particular like John, to step into a pressure situation but he’s the man for the job. On a different day, I think he would’ve gotten some of those but I’m really proud of the effort he made.

Did Curtin let the team know he might sub McCarthy in?

I think we know each other well enough, and it was a good decision. John’s track record in this cup, he’s come up huge for us in penalty kicks against Rochester, against Red Bulls in particular — he was the Man of the Match in both games. So, I thought it was the right decision, and it almost paid off.

Is it important for you to stick together after this?

I can’t stress the importance of sticking together in the midst of disappointment like this. It hasn’t…I don’t even have the right words for it. It doesn’t feel good now and I know it’s going to hurt more in the coming days. For me, I want us to finish the season with our heads held high, and I think we have a lot to keep our heads held high. And I say this very professionally: We kicked their butts, and on a different day, we embarrass Kansas City. But, today was their day. There isn’t a man in that locker room who would say something different.

I think we have a lot to be proud about for our effort, we played with confidence, a lot of confidence, and I think that, though it hurts now, this is something if we keep the group together, I think it builds character. I know I can only speak for myself, [but] I couldn’t be prouder of a guy like Maurice Edu, who’s hurting right now, and I know because I sit next to him. Mo is the leader on our team. Mo is the captain of our team and even in the midst of the disappointment of tonight, I’m one of the first guys to say that I still respect his game, and respect the things that he brings to the table. I’m proud of the effort he brought tonight in the midst of injury. And the same goes to all the guys because we got some real warriors on our team. I just really hope this experience defines us moving forward in a good way.

Andrew Wenger

Take us through the PK attempt.

I stepped up, the ball fell over a couple of times. I tried to strike it well, the goalie made a save. Missed.

Is it tough when you’re coming on new like that?

Yeah, first time I’ve ever done that. It’s not the easiest thing to do, you would like to touch the ball more and be involved in the game but you’re a professional athlete and that’s what I’m paid to do and I should’ve done better there.

What’s the feeling like in the locker room?

I thought we were the better team tonight. I think guys are disappointed. I’m disappointed, disappointed for guys that played the bulk of the minutes. I feel bad for them. But, yeah, it sucks.

What’s the pressure like in that situation?

The pressure of taking a penalty shot? It’s a penalty that you’re supposed to score. I don’t know what else to tell you. If you want to figure out what the pressure is, I can have you come out there tomorrow and we can do it. I mean it’s what you’re supposed to do as an athlete. It’s what we’re supposed to do. I don’t know, let me think about that a couple of days and I’ll email you.

Sporting Kansas City postgame quotes

Peter Vermes

How do you bring newcomers in and get them to perform well in big situations?

I think tonight there were seven guys on the field in the beginning of the game that were from the 2013 MLS cup Final. That experience is huge. It took a long time to cultivate that group and I don’t want to say it’s everything, but it’s a lot. And as much as you are a part of the time period where we built that culture. What else is transpired is that they are now the ones that raise in the standard year after year. So when new players come in, there is no flexibility for them to go their own way. They either adapt or adjust to the culture the way it is or they find themselves out pretty quickly. So when the new guys come in, they understand very quickly what the club is all about, what the expectations are. Something we said right before we were going out this morning, when we had a pregame talk, we were looking around, couple of coaches and myself, we were saying that what’s tremendous is that we have a young group that played against Seattle this past Sunday and they had a great experience there. They held up to what they needed to do to get us in position for this game, and make sure everybody was rested, but they earned a tremendous amount of experience today going through this. It’s one thing to go through and lose but it’s another thing to go through and win. You gain something from that, and I don’t know if all the guys come through that win are winners. All I do know is when the guys get a taste of winning they become that pretty quickly.

What did you think about the Union?

In the first half, I thought they were the better team for sure. I thought the second half we were the better team. I would say that we managed the overtimes really well. There is two things, and this isn’t any off field tactics or so. It is not winning a championship at home. We have done it twice and we had to learn some valuable lessons on the road. In 2012, when we won the cup at home we played Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Championship the year before and they were more experienced. We were very Naïve, although we played well, we were naïve, and we gained a lot of experience from that, that has been a big help to us, we had to learn that. I think the Union has a very good foundation; I think Jim is doing a really good job and I think their future is bright for sure.

What comes next for you and Kansas City?

From when I first came on the team as a technical director, and then became coach, and then both now, my thoughts were never about building a team, it was always about being a part of building a club. There is a big difference between the two things. A team can be built, and you can win, and you can fall apart the next year and be a one hit wonder. The whole idea for us was a club that was going to be connected with a community and more importantly was going to be competitive year after year. That is a very tough thing to do in this league because of the salary cap. We’ve had to sell guys, trade guys away. It’s unfortunate, look CJ played on the other side today, and he is a monster, and I love the kid, we have a great relationship. It’s not something we necessarily wanted to do. Bunberry last year played in the final with New England, another guy, Kei Kamara, he is leading the league in goals right now. I can go down the list of players that have been with the club and incredible servants for the club. AT the same time they know and understand what clubs are about and we still have a lot of work to do. We are adding something that are going to be announced sooner than later for the organization. We still have a long way to go. Lets’ face it, there are some super powers in our league that are LA Galaxy, new LA team, Toronto, NYs of the world, Montreal, Vancouver, I mean there’s Seattle. Those are some superpowers and we have to be able to do things maybe a little different because of our market and we need to continue to stay competitive because those guys are getting better all the time. It’s not an easy league to navigate from that perspective to stay consistent.

Benny Feilhaber

As a newcomer how do adapt to the new culture? How has Jordi fit in?

I was a newcomer a couple years ago, and it’s not easy. The system that we play, the way Peter manages; it takes a while to kind of get use to it. These guys, obviously goalkeeping is a bit different, and as for Jordy, I think he has done really well to get acclimated to the environment, the way the MLS is played. How our team plays. He is a quality player with a lot of technical abilities, and we I think we were all pretty confident that he was going to get that goal.

What did that Seattle game mean to them?

I think it unified the team a little bit with the guys that didn’t get too many minutes. They all had such a good performance, that everybody kind of felt like we have all contributed to this team. You can sense it, as soon as we won that game; everybody celebrated on the field together, as if they had a part in it, which they did.

Were you aware of McCarthy coming on?

For myself, I thought it was going to happen, I was keeping track of their subs. McCarthy has had two penalty shootouts in Open Cup games, and they won both. I was actually surprised he didn’t start the game.

Matt Besler

In league play you guys haven’t had the best form, Peter mentioned watching the young guys playing against Seattle might have been an inspiration and pumped you guys up. Is that the effect it had on you guys?

The feeling in the locker room after the Seattle game is something that we needed. I feel like after that game the team came together. I was up in the stand along with a lot of the other older guys and I didn’t know it was like that, watching the game, how nervous I would be. Especially the last 10 or 15 minutes, but I think it was probably the fasted that the people watching the game got down to the locker room. It probably took us two minutes to get down there because we wanted to see our teammates and congratulate them on the effort they put forth. We all agreed the performance and the way we went about it is something we can grow off of and it gave us confidence going into tonight.

There was a tough stretch at the beginning of the game. Giving up the goal, putting you under pressure. How’d you guys get through it?

We did a lot of defending in the first 30 minutes. You have to give credit to Philadelphia. We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy, and they did. They put a lot of pressure on us in our own half and in the 18 yard box. I think we’ll look back on that stretch and the fact that we were able to bend and not break and go into half time 1-0 was a big part of the game.

Winning on penalty kicks, do you think there’s more than luck when you go into those situations?

There’s just something about this group of guys and penalty kicks in championship games. I was a little bit surprised this game went into penalty kicks… Once the ref blew the whistle in the second extra time we had all been there before. I think everybody was very comfortable and confident.

Changed their goalkeeper, were you aware?

I noticed it. I think we were all aware that he had played all of the games in the open cup and that they had advanced on two penalty kick shoot-outs. As far as my strategy, it didn’t change much. I noticed that he was very long…not that Andre Blake isn’t, just looking in the goal, he looked a little bit more intimidating or longer.”

Experience and having been there and having won goes a long way in these types of games.

18 Comments

  1. Cruel sport.

    Wenger’s miss is my fault. He went to Duke. I went to Duke, and everything with which I’m connected in soccer is destined to suffer for some reason. Maybe I was a soccer-bashing journalist in a past life, and this is karmic payback.

  2. I hold it against Andrew, JIm. Maybe you don’t. I do.
    .
    Andrew knew when he woke up this morning he would fiddle with the ball uncomfortably because he doesn’t believe. Andrew has a crises of confidence Jim and you put him in hoping he could get behind the cramping defense but never thinking he would be the 8th shooter in a PK contest. Andrew doesn’t get behind the defense Jim.

    What about Erik Ayuk though… Eric Ayuk gets behind the defense…as a matter of fact just this year he has gotten behind the defense in this very tournament…. and Erik Ayuk is the exact opposite of Andrew Wenger right now Jim…Erik Ayuk has zero crises of confidence…he’s just brash and youngdumb enough not to give a shit. You sir dropped the ball with Andrew Wenger last night. A hundred times. For the second year in a row…you failed in a season AND in the most important game of that season.
    .
    The minute this team hires their GM…you can go — and shame on this organization if they don’t see that.

    • Nailed it on the head, oh Mighty Elephant. This man cannot take this team any further.

    • I don’t blame Wenger.
      .
      In soccer much like most team sports, it is rarely one person. Winning or losing does happen as a team.
      .
      Could someone have finished better in the first half when the Union had control of the game to go up 2-0? Could someone have done better to throw off Nemeth on his goal or prevent the ball from reaching him? Could Unkel have given more yellows or even a red that would have changed the game? Could Edu have done better with his PK? Could McCarthy have reached another of the kicks?
      .
      Wenger will get the most blame for his mistake, mostly because it happened last, but there are many other ones that lead up to that moment.

      • Fair…I guess what I mean then is I hold it against the manager for putting Andrew into a position…
        .
        Last nights loss is on poor finishing which has been a benchmark of this team since the SOB marched into Philly chanting we want a team, and the manager.

    • The GM/Sporting Director is possessively Octavio Zambrano. I think Jim either becomes the head coach of the Bethlehem project or he is just straight up replaced. Jim has not shown ANYTHING by ways of ANY tactical acumen that he is fit to lead this team as the head coach. NOTHING Jim has done has shown he can move this club forward. I believe there are some very talented players (Barnetta, Chaco, Nogs, Fabinho, Gaddis, Marquez, Lahoud, Sapong, Blake), I also believe there is a lot of bloat and dead weight (Wenger, Edu, Vittoria, McCarthy, Carroll, McMath, Casey). I believe we have ONE “Legend” and that is LeToux (who needs to play, but not for 90min).

      Lots of holes, but with smart and aggressive transfers in the off-season (Bedoya, Striker, and CBs) but more importantly a Manager who falls inline with what the Sporting Director vision is. Curtin IS NOT that GUY.

      I am so flustered and upset that this probably is just coming across as ranting, but the core is good, we need to just cut off all the “mold” and make anew.

  3. “From when I first came on the team as a technical director, and then became coach, and then both now, my thoughts were never about building a team, it was always about being a part of building a club. There is a big difference between the two things. A team can be built, and you can win, and you can fall apart the next year and be a one hit wonder. The whole idea for us was a club that was going to be connected with a community and more importantly was going to be competitive year after year. “

  4. Absolutely heart breaking. We needed this win for so many reasons; money, confidence, silverware, exposure, and most of all for the faithful fans. The stage was set, the crowd was electric, Curtin started with the best possible lineup. Fielded our best team by far and we started out hot. First half was great, second half we started slow and were doing a lot of chasing. Shout out to Connor Casey, when he came on I think it brought a spark to the offense and we went on the attack again. OT we pushed the pace a lot and had a ton of opportunities on goal.

    Don’t think this is at all Wenger, McCarthy, or Curtin’s fault, it’s a story of missed opportunities and not finishing off good plays. Fault falls on the team overall for not putting those shots on target. Although if I was manager I wouldn’t have had the balls to switch out my keeper right before PKs and would have sat Sapong back and kept him on for PKs instead of subbing in fresh legs. At that point in the game it seemed pointless, both teams were holding down and playing for PKs.

    Side note, has Chaco ever played a full 90? Something needs to be done about his fitness, can’t have one of our top playmakers subbing out early every game, especially one of this caliber. On a positive, Fabinho was on fire. If there was any doubt left that he is a legit starter on this squad, last night should have cleared that up. Union’s man of the match in my opinion.

    Sadly I don’t think we can make another run to the cup finals for a third year in a row and there’s a better chance of the pope converting to islam then us making the playoffs at this point. Deja vu of last season

  5. fabinho was super, as was barnetta. sapong, maidana and le toux did their thing. the disappointments were edu & gaddis. the rest were acceptable. edu seemed almost disinterested on the pk;too
    friggin cool. wenger, another forgettable game.

    • Gotta disagree on Sapong. He kept going down too easy and Unkel (as refs will do when they think they’re getting conned by a player) raised the bar on what would be a foul which played right into SKC’s hands.

    • I would add Lahoud to the excellent list. Covered a ton of ground and was one of the best players on the field last night. Also added a surprisingly confident PK. And I would drop Maidana into the good category.

    • SKC’s goal looked like the result of some poor back post marking by Gaddis. There was about 15 yards between him and Nemeth. Back was turned to his man and was caught ball watching. Beautiful shot by Nemeth, but he should have never had that opportunity.

  6. I just don’t get the Edu bashing across lots of different comments threads. Poor PK, I get that. But what does our D look like without him the back half of this season? Was Dom Dwyer much of a factor last night? His style’s very different from the Philly tough thing that LeToux and some others exemplify, but I don’t get how you question his competitiveness and ability. He’s one of the top 3 players on the team, in my opinion (Nogueira and Barnetta being the other 2….apologies to Maidana, who does what he does very well).

    • Dude what does our defense look like with him in, not only the back half but the whole season, o yea the worst in the league… He is supposed to be a captain man, he only came here to try and get back on the national and it hasn’t panned out.. Did you see the way le toux played, that’s the way captains usually play in the most important game of the season

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    We are all hurting. We each deal with it in different ways, ways unique to who we each are.
    .
    As I read earlier comments, I am drawn to the assistant coach’s cliched quiet aside to the discouraged youngster who just got publicly chewed out by the head coach, “the time to start really worrying is when he no longer cares enough to chew you out.”
    .
    At Churchill Downs after the Derby, they interview the jockey, but the horse gets to reach back and snack on the roses because they are hanging on him.

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