Press Conference

Curtin talks injuries, backup plans, and new signings at Tuesday press conference

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin told the media on Tuesday that his team will, “prepare for the possibility that Maurice [Edu] will not be available for the season opener.”

Injuries

Curtin confirmed that Edu was still unable to practice with the team as he recovers from offseason surgery, and indicated that the team’s captain will need to show significant progress in the next few days to have a chance of playing in the season opener against Dallas. Additionally, the Union coach made it clear that Edu will only be played if he is 100 percent fit.

With Edu’s status up in the air, Curtin said Philly will continue to experiment in the midfield. Vincent Nogueira has taken up a deeper role in preseason, and Brian Carroll can play alongside the Frenchman if the Union adopt a two-deep shape during difficult early road games.

The other injury news concerned Ray Gaddis, who has been battling a minor knee injury during preseason. Curtin said Gaddis’ injury is probably best described as tendonitis, and that it should not sideline the right back long-term.

Roster

Former Union draft pick Amobi Okugo was waived by Sporting Kansas City earlier on Tuesday. Curtin praised Okugo but insisted that Philly is not in the market for a defensive midfielder right now.

Ken Tribbett received more than praise, as it broke moments before the press conference was set to begin that the Union have signed the central defender. Tribbett had signed with Bethlehem Steel FC, but that contract will now be voided. Tribbett is the first player to join the Union after first signing with BSFC. Tribbett has been a standout performer in preseason, and his aerial presence on both defensive and attacking set pieces has been notable.

The Union also signed draft pick Cole Missimo on Tuesday.

Another preseason standout remains in limbo, with Curtin being noncommittal about signing attacking midfielder Ilsinho. Although Ilsinho is still training with the Union, Philly is flush with midfielders. Curtin’s comment on the diminutive playmaker’s status was, “We’ll see what the coming days bring.”

Despite having only two strikers on the roster, Curtin indicated the team was happy with its options. Fabian Herbers continues to impress in training and CJ Sapong appears to have the coaching staff’s full confidence. If reinforcements are needed, Curtin suggested they could come from midfield, with either Sebastien Le Toux or Chris Pontius moving forward.

58 Comments

  1. I know we’re all going to read too much into comments, but “We’ll see what the coming days bring” sounds to me like they are working on something. I get the feeling someone is leaving. It’s just a question of BSFC, or out of the organization altogether.

    • I had the opposite feeling. More like, unless Curtain is overwhelmed by Ilsinho’s play, he won’t be here. But I am intrigued by your take on it.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I would expect two season-long loans to BSFC from the pool of midfielders, Missimo and Ayuk being my best guesses.
      .
      I am taking Earnie at his word that he wants two deep competition at every spot, we know they need three keepers to cover Blake, so I doubt McCarthy is rendered Unable to shuttle from the BSFC nets to the Union bench and back, but we have not idea how that works and apparently no one asked Curtin about it, unless by mutual consent the topic is temporarily out of bounds. There are only two strikers, and only now are there eight backs. The loans will come from the midfield pool.
      .
      Backing up my assumptions is the BSFC roster as I know it so far: thin over all,but, proportional to the likely number of field positions deployed in the eleven, heaviest in attackers, adequate in defenders and defensive midfielders, and sparse on the wings and among attacking midfielders. But we have had a information blackout about what BSFC has been doing in the last three weeks.

      • I generally agree here, except for two things.
        .
        I wonder if Missimo will be loaned somewhere other than BSFC – Cosmos, for example. Because if he was going to Bethlehem, I would’ve assumed he’d just sign a contract there directly, rather than sign with the Union and then get loaned. But maybe I’m thinking too much into that…
        .
        The other difference I see is that I would now expect Yaro to get loaned to BSFC. Having Yaro sit behind Marquez, Tribbet, and Anderson won’t do him any good. He needs to play. And it just so happens that BSFC has a recent opening on their back line…
        .
        Otherwise, I’m with you in expecting Ayuk to get loaned out – both to get him consistent playing minutes and to open up an international slot. (And for whatever it’s worth, I guess a third difference is that I read Curtin’s comments the same way Prag did – Ilsinho will be signed in a few days once they get the roster sorted.)

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        I had not considered loans to the Cosmos, a good idea given the difference in Leo Fernandes before and after.
        .
        I am expecting the loans for Ayuk and – possibly – Missimo to be season-long, as was Fernandes, as was Marquez in effect the year before him.
        .
        From my perspective, they cannot do that with Yaro because he is one injury and one red card away from starting on the first team. Same with McCarthy, same with Washington, and so forth.
        .
        Finding out what the devices are for roster manipulation to cover injuries and suspensions is becoming fairly important. I am confident Earnie, Chris, Jim, Mike, Oka, Brendan, and Brendan’s staff all have a working theory at the very least. We civilians do not.

      • I recall there was a point last year while he was injured that Nog was technically loaned to Harrisburg to briefly clear his international slot.
        .
        If my memory is correct (and, frankly, that’s questionable) then it would seem they have the ability to do shorter term loans to USL. Now, of course one difference is that BSFC is a Union-owned endeavor, as opposed to HCI.

      • I read Curtin’s comments the same as John and prag – Ilsinho will be signed.
        .
        The delay could be from the limited international roster spots. They could be working to loan a current international (Ayuk?), get a green card for someone (Nogueria?), and/or trade for another spot.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Cutting tells the truth as he sees it.
    .
    If they sign Ilsinho, they probably preclude picking up anybody else later for reasons of salary cap and this TAM stuff, unless he had decided to retire and is coming back for one last hurrah and is willing to work cheap to experience North America.

  3. I really hope the Union can sign Ilsinho. Can never have too many talented players in the attacking midfield areas.

  4. Damn, Amobi…I wish he’d just stuck around and played center back.

  5. I know everyone likes the idea of Ilsinho, but what has he done lately. Yes he had a good game against TBR, but to me what I want to know is he really worth giving up the chance to sign a DP level player in July because I think thats what it comes down to. Also is he worth the INTL spot as it is much easier to loan a younger player to BSFC to make room later in the season then say a consistent role player who has been helping the team. At this point I see only Ayuk, Herbers, and Yaro as loanable. If you sign Ilsinho there goes one of them for the season. You only have two strikers so you are likely loaning Ayuk. Then if you still want another INTL player Herbers or Yaro has to go down and that could be a problem if injuries happen. What is needed is a trade for an international slot and money thus making the Ilsinho signing more of a possibility.

    • I think part of the “We’ll see what the coming days bring” line was referring to how well he plays against NYRB. Picking apart a minor league team is one thing. Playing well against a championship contender is something else.
      .
      He will continue to be a main focus of the fans until a decision is made one way or the other.

    • I don’t think they’ll loan Herbers or they’re down to 1 forward (2 if you count LeToux)

  6. Neither Le Toux nor Pontius can play well as a center forward in a 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 / 4-whatever-you-call-it. I am kinda stunned that they have not signed another forward. We are putting a huge burden on Sapong’s shoulders, and his backup, while very promising, is a rookie. This does not strike me as wise. Maybe the truth is that they want to wait to see what better options open up during the summer transfer window in Europe.

    • Clever pun. “This does not STRIKE me as…”

    • I have the same worry about striker, but I like LeToux as a forward better than others- even as a lone striker. So far they seem to be doing a lot less lumping it upfield and requiring the forward to bring it down and hold it to buy time for the MFs to join in than in years past. And a lot less aimless crossing into the box. We’ll see if that can continue when the games count. Also remember Earnie saying he wanted to hold back some funds (and presumably at least one roster spot) so they could jump on any good deals that might unexpectedly present themselves. So you are probably right- see how it’s playing out and then target the biggest need in the summer.

      • I have always loved the idea of Le Toux at forward.
        .
        It is his natural position and his runs over the top help create space for the midfield to play into. He is a streaky scorer so get him close to goal where he can bag a cheap one and next thing you know he is on fire. He runs all day so let him pester centerbacks into making mistakes. Also now entering in the latter stages of his career, it would save his legs a little to, not having to track back defensively all the time. Really the only knock about him as a forward is that he is not a “target” forward, but like Mikex says, I don’t think this team is built to play that way anyway.

    • we have reached the point in the preseason where you have to consider the absence of another Center Forward and CDM being by design. The Union seem to have put a lot of stock in positional versatility on the pitch. So if that means the Union are counting on players who can start at different positions or that means the players can be fluid with their positions while on the pitch is anyone’s guess. But while the team is in many aspects still rebuilding we have to assume the rebuilding that has taken place has been to a purpose and the players we do have point to an overarching design and/or philosophy.

  7. Section 114 (Formerly) says:

    Story 1: our top CDM is out indefinitely
    Story 2: a much beloved talented CDM is available
    Story 3: we have no experience at CB and both CDMs in 1/2 can play there
    Story 4: (if the price is right) BRING BACK AMOBI!!!!!!

    • Story 2: Who’s talented?
      Story 3: Anderson and Marquez are experienced
      Story 4:Not happening

    • Lucky Striker says:

      When the Union staff have something personal against a player-he just doesn’t seem to return to play again.

      You might say : they just “Berry” him-and likely his career too……….

    • The price isn’t right… That’s why Orlando let him go. If he would renegotiate his contract and take a pay cut… Then maybe.

      • This is an important point that I too quickly forget. Thanks for the reminder.

      • I feel like I have to second this because it just goes in one ear and out the other of the Okugo devotees on PSP. He messed up his own career by asking for WAY too much money. His contract is for $300K, which is about what he should be making in a few years when he fully develops. But he seems to want that pay day up front. With the team salary cap as low as it is in MLS, no team, not even LA, NYCFC or Seattle, will pay that much for a depth option who *may* become starting material sometime in the distant future. That $300K is significantly more money than what Tchani, Trapp, Larentowicz and many other CDMs of better quality than Okugo currently make. So why should the Union sign him? I think it was actually fairly decent foresight to get rid of him when we did.

    • The Amobi love affair on this site is totally over-the-top. He was absolutely, unequivocally a great dude and nice guy off the pitch. No doubt about that. Admitted that he played comparatively well in a short stint at CB. I was not at all overly impressed with his play in his preferred CDM position. Apparently neither was Orlando nor SKC. I just can’t see him getting a MF spot over the current options on the team. Also have some lingering resentment over that whole Olympic non-qualification, losing his man thing as well.

      • He’s a great dude who representing the club very well while he was here. He also generally played well in his 117 appearances for a totally dysfunctional and broke organization that had gave him three managers in his first five years as a pro. Oh, yeah…he had to train on a regular basis in a public park and was probably physically spanked as a rookie by his first professional manager. Yet, you don’t think that he could help the club now because of a U-20 match that happened in 2011.

        What am I missing?

      • As I have said in a couple of other posts, being the first in a race of glue factory horses doesn’t make that horse a thoroughbred. Just because a player was the class of a very bad team doesn’t make him a solid foundation to build on as the team improves.
        .
        Also, being a great dude (we have had a lot of them) doesn’t begin to justify a spot on the roster, especially when you’re trying to improve it.
        .
        Players like Cruz and McCarthy D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y do not belong at this level (even on a bad team). The current evaluators know what Okugo is all about, and maybe that’s just not good enough (at least at that price) for a team that’s really making an effort to better its past.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        .
        I appreciate this.
        .
        As if Amobi Okugo is the first player to find himself in no man’s land after getting traded… Or better maybe we should hold the parent club a bit more responsible for not developing him and possibly fucking up his career.l then getting rid of him for a guy who is only marginally better and a whole hell of a lot more expensive.
        .
        Yea.
        .

      • OK, not even trying to be argumentative here in the least, I promise.
        .
        I was pondering EP’s thought on the player not being properly developed by the parent club and the possibility of how that could mess up his whole career. It’s not like it hasn’t happened, so I can see that POV for sure.
        .
        But then thought popped into my (rather thick) skull that at some point, doesn’t the player himself really have the ultimate responsibility to work/develop himself into the player he really wants to be? (If he even CAN become that player)
        .
        I guess I’m submitting the thought that most (certainly not all) great players are great because of the force of their own personal will/desire/hard work, not because they ended up in a particular program that developed their talents to greatness.
        .
        Of course, this could all just be a tragic combination of ignorance and indigestion on my part.
        .
        Also, as always, we the typeratti, have absolutely no Earthly clue what the dynamics were between Okugo and the club. Could have been an awful lot of things we’ll never know about. It’s really not fair to either side just to blindly assume. (Although Sak WAS involved at the time, soooooooo…)

      • I don’t get it either msg. He’s apparently going to be this year’s Danny Cruz. I’ve had enough already.

      • He’s going to run really fast then fall on his face and yell at the ref?

      • He’s going to be the player that people lament every week as if he was the answer to every question this team has. But I like your query!

      • Well, clearly he’s the answer for our needed backup at striker…

      • John Ling, that’s twice you’ve made me laugh this morning. Just stop it now, or I’ll start looking like a cackling fool. Oh wait…

      • LOL! Cruz LOOKED like he was running fast, but he never outran anyone ever.

      • We should also add dribbling the ball out of bounds, a la Wenger.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      If I was Okugo I would under no circumstances ever wear a Union kit again.

    • Just assume any player from that generation whose name isn’t Sabastian Le Toux has pretty much a burned bridge with the Union.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Amobi has been found wanting by two other organizations. I admire loyalty and will advocate forever your right to display it. That being said, two peers support Jim Curtin’s judgment.
      .
      He did not want to be a center back. Gabriel Farfan did not want to be a left back. People misread their own gifts all the time.

  8. Did anyone ask Curtain about the Edu walking boot thing?

    • Not about the boot directly. But I did push him on whether Edu was actually progressing, at a standstill, or suffering setbacks. He ole’d me by saying that he thinks every day Edu isn’t on the pitch is a setback (nicely done).

  9. So just for fun I was kicking around what a preferred game-day 18 might look like. I can start to see why they said they liked versatile players. On the one hand you want players who are near top of the league at their best position, but on the other hand versatility can provide good cover. I guess the best case is your normal bench guys can play at least 2 spots passably. So a normal XI might be:
    Blake
    Fabihno
    Anderson
    Marquez
    Gaddis
    Carroll (since Edu is injured)
    Noguiera
    Alberg
    Barnetta
    Pontius
    Sapong

    With a bench of:
    Jones
    Tribbett
    Rosenberry
    Creavalle (Carroll’s backup)
    LeToux
    Fernandes
    Last spot could be Herbers/Restrepo

    Even if Rosenberry starts it’d be great to have Gaddis because he has MLS experience playing both OB spots. Edu coming back would bump Creavalle out of the 18 preferably. So potential BSFC loanees would be Missimo, Yaro, Ayuk, Washington, and McCarthy. I’m not saying this is definite, just messing around with the possibilities as it stands now.

  10. Lucky Striker says:

    BC is in that player-coach mode now, so I could see him as the likely bump in a lot of games when Mo returns. Otherwise almost looks spot on-but I’ll believe Seba sits when I see it.

    Alberg / Nog should start in the pivot meantime.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      my own bet is that Gaddis and Marquez sit, and that Gaddis does not make the eighteen because he is nowhere close to match fit. I also bet that Nogueira drops back to DCM for Edu and that Alberg slides into CM #8 for Nogueira. BC is on the bench Le Toux starts at right wing/midfield.

      • Gaddis not being ready would be tough. I guess Creavalle would also backup Rosenberry and maybe they’d have to put Washington in the 18, unless maybe Anderson could play LB in a pinch.

    • Yeah, the DCM spots are the cloudiest ones I think (though Noguiera has one I’d assume) with Edu being out. I think we will have to wait for the real games to see how Curtin plans to play it without Edu. And even if they keep one roster spot open that still leaves 2 available to get to 27 and aside from Ilsinho I don’t know who they might sign. Don’t know of any unsigned trialiats still with team.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Don’t forget to include the salary cap in your musings. We have nothing but completely ignorant, uninformed speculation to use, but they’ve signed some good midfielders from some decent leagues. They are not paying those guys the MLS minimum. We further have no idea what the TAM phenomenon does to those salary cap hits, probably a lot. And, while I have no idea who Jay Sugarman really is, it might be possible that he wants his management team to get the very best value for every dollar, but to use every dollar available to maximize success and potential for success on the pitch, i. e., spend it all now and evaluate what you have. Cross bridges in the future when you get to them, because a win in March earns the same three points as a win in October.

  11. From what I’ve seen I think Barnetta on the wing and Alberg in the middle is the best fit.

  12. Lucky Striker says:

    Noggy got his green card. That and a quarter……..

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