Dallas 2-0 Union: Postgame comments from Jim Curtin

Photo: Daniel Studio

Note: First two quotes provided by Philadelphia Union, the rest transcribed by PSP. Questions have been paraphrased

Jim Curtin

On the game

We knew it would be a very tough test. FC Dallas is a good team. It was a very good test for us. You can talk about Barrios, Castillo Diaz… We knew it would be a difficult day. I thought we were a little timid to start the match. They put us on our heels. We survived the first 15 minutes but… If you look at both goals they came on bad giveaways in bad spots. It’s difficult. It’s a learning experience but I was happy, for the most part with our younger guys. We made two big mistakes and a team like Dallas will punish you for that. We learned a bunch from this game. Andre Blake bailed us out a lot tonight, you need that in this league, especially when you go on the road. We knew it was Dallas’ home-opener. We knew it would be difficult. We knew they would be aggressive going forward. We were a little better in the second half, with the ball. We had a few guys injured here but we need to have the mindset that the next guy up will do the job. I think we are in a better spot than we were last year. Again, this was a tough test. We’ll learn from it and move on to Columbus next week.

On Dallas’ pace

Oscar [Pareja] does a great job, he is a great coach. He has a group of guys now that are dangerous in transition. They are probably the most dangerous team that we will face in this league. [Max] Urruti gives them a different look up top… Not the big physical presence that they would have up there but he is clever., he moves in the box very well. With Castillo and Barrios looking to get to the end line, they were able to do that tonight. I thought we did OK against them but at the same time, we walk away with nothing so it is a tough one.

On the defensive struggles with Dallas’ speed

Their front four is as dangerous as there is in our league, between Diaz, Castillo, Barrios, now Urruti, it’s four tough guys, you know it would be a tough task. They got in behind us a little more than we would have liked. They had more of the possession in the first half. I thought in the second half we were able to get ahold of things a little better and it looked like there were some moments where it looked like we might put some passes together and get a few more chances, but then made a mistake on the second goal and that punished us. And, they’re a good team, Dallas is a MLS Cup contender, obviously, and it was good to test ourselves against them. But, we came up a little bit small in the critical moments.

Was it disappointing not to be able to put more offensive pressure on Dallas?

Yeah, we wanted to keep the ball a little more than we did. I felt like in the first half with just our movement, our spacing was a little bit off — credit to Dallas, they put us under some pressure, they made us turnover balls in bad spots. We’re a team that everybody has to have a strong performance for us to have a chance, and I don’t think we had enough strong performances. So, again, it’s going to be tough on a day when you play a really good team to get a result.

I know you don’t want Andre Blake to be that busy…

No, I don’t.

But a strong performance from Blake

Yeah, exactly. He’s a guy who really showed up, he bailed us out a lot, had a good game. But, again, I felt we hung him out to dry far too much, especially at the end of the game. I thought we could’ve done a better job of how we pushed for the goal when they were up 1-0, not give up so much [at back?].

But, at the same time, happy with my guys from the standpoint of the second half, it was a better response, some things to build on. But we know it’s early and we have to get better, and there are things we can improve on.

On the debutants in the back line

I think the new guys had some positive moments, but they also had some mistakes and things they can learn from. Again, there’s going to be highs and lows with new players getting to know each other, for sure, and then young players [new] to the league. I think that there’s a lot of positives; it’s about a tough a match up and assignments as they’re going to get all year, I think Dallas is that talented attacking wise.

So, happy they got to learn from it now, but the next stage is us getting results. Because we leave here disappointed with nothing.

On Ilsinho

He’s a dangerous player, he’s a guy who’s very good, can play a final pass, very good one vs. one, he can get you a goal off a restart or in the run of play. So, a guy that we needed to get on the ball a little more than I thought we did today. Again, credit to Dallas, they out-played us on the day. At the same time, he’s a very talented player that we have big expectations for.

On selecting Ilsinho over Alberg to start

Right now there’s a little bit of a Roland getting to know the team, a little bit of injuries — he missed a little bit of the preseason, Ilsinho played the majority of the minutes. The team that was on the field for us was the group that deserved it and played the majority of the minutes in the preseason. We are — you know, Mo Edu and Barnetta, and Alberg once he gets going — we have some good decisions, tough decisions to make, which is a good thing for a coach.

On the center backs and Richie Marquez not starting

Again, it’s another one where Richie had a little bit of a hamstring issue that we held him out of some preseason matches, he missed some time. There’s starting to be a good thing forming with Anderson and Ken, they played well together. But, at the same time, Richie’s a guy that I believe in, I’m still very high on. It’s competition every week for the spots, and Richie’s a guy who gives you everything, a guy who that just, unfortunately, had a little bit of a knock, an injury in the preseason that maybe prevented him from being in the starting line up.

On the fullbacks getting trapped

They’re good on the ball, they’re comfortable, they can make passes. I think it’s important spacing wise that they’re in an area of the field that’s a little higher up when they receive it so Castillo isn’t the one running at them, or Barrios is running at them or ahead of them, and now they can create more situations, two vs one. So, being as a starting point, a little higher. Part of it also is our center backs having the confidence to hit the little hoofed [?] ball over top of the wingers. So, a combination of things, but, yeah, you’re right. We do have some talented guys out there; we’re working on it, we’re trying to get it better. We were better in possession than previously we have been if you go back to last year but, at the same time, still room to improve.

On the challenge of containing Diaz

He does a good job of getting into the — he almost played along side of our other center back and then would drift back into the space in front of the defender — he’s a great player, very talented, dangerous. Again, a top No. 10. Higuian coming in next week, another guy who drifts around, probably even more than Diaz. Diaz stayed centrally a lot but we just couldn’t locate him and close him down. We could have done a better job.

It looks like Tribbett dropped off when he could have stepped up against Diaz on the first goal. How do you want your center backs to play a player like Diaz?

At that stage — I just watched it again now. — we lose a silly ball about 30 yards from our goal. Diaz picks it up and starts dribbling forward, but kind of across the field. Ken steps a little too prematurely and it left a big seam in behind. At that stage, with Castillo running forward, it’s probably best to drop together and concede some ground, and let Diaz have some of the ball. But, again, a learning experience, a decision that was made. We’ll look at the tape and learn from it. Good attacking play by them.


  1. Pretty much what we expected. Hope we learn enough to get a point against Columbus.

  2. Alicat215 says:

    Jim, did you not listen to Sir Alex that night, or read his book……..your starting 11 will not all have a good night. I think he said once in his career coaching…..all 11 put in a top performance. I believe he said only two or three of your players are going to put up a top performance…..per match. That means your starting eleven have to be competent enough to get the job done….and a few have to really bring it, on a given night. When you say all eleven have to put in a top performance, each match for you to do well….that’s completely unrealistic…….someone needs to start thinking like a top flight gaffer!

    • It absolutely drives me crazy when Curtin keeps going back to that “we need all 11 guys to have a great game to have a chance.” And he says it a lot. Firstly, as you said it’s totally unrealistic. Secondly, it’s incredibly defeatist. I certainly hope his pre-game speech every week isn’t along the lines of, “Guys, all 11 of you need to play great tonight or we are screwed. Let’s go get ’em!”

      • Haha, right? Places pressure on your players where it’s not needed either……..let’s watch what Madaina and Wenger do this season at another club.

      • Mickey Goldmill says:
        Look at that picture… only a totally irrational person would look at that picture and not think to themselves… is our organization just born under a bad sign… .
        …could it be the Ghost of Hazings, Spankings, Dehydrations Runs and Insanity of the Piotr Past that will Haunt us Forever and Ever?
        I can hear Jack Bruce in my head… if it wasn’t for bad luck…I wouldn’t have no luck at all… or was it.
        …Frank Sinatra who sang, “ain’t life a kick in the head?”

      • I…what? They BOTH scored? …I have no words.

      • Alicat215 says:

        Yup, my hunch was correct…….

      • Wenger scored in his first game for the Union too. Let’s see how it plays out. Although this is pretty typical. Ha. Only in Philly.

      • Alicat215 says:

        He had the same look on his face when North, LaSalle, and Ryan would flame Bishop McDevitt! Lol!

      • Maidana was in the box. In 2 seasons with the Union, the man never put himself in the box.

      • Personal preference, or coaching directive?

      • I only saw the replay once, but I think he shot with his right foot too. Never did that either. Maybe he decided to do a ‘George Costanza’ with his soccer career.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        Did you miss the part when they gave up the win in extra time? Seems about the same to me.

  3. MikeRSoccer says:

    It’s going to be another long season. I doubt Curtin’s tenure survives it.

  4. Mickey Goldmill (nee Pachyderm) says:

    Tough to watch us play like that today… to watch Dallas be so so much better then flip over and see a Portland and Columbus team play a game also of which we are unfamiliar.
    Phew…patience patience patience… can preach patience all off season but now is when my four year old keeps screwing with me to see what reaction he is going to get… and I know it and have to trust myself.
    Please Mo. Please ‘Quillo… you simply have to be on the field.

    • Thank you for adding that addendum to your name – I didn’t recognize the name change immediately!
      When is Mo expected back? It really does feel like an incomplete team without him.

    • Alicat215 says:

      That Columbus kit is just downright fugly!

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        They are so bad the players may hate playing in them and the revulsion may affect their performance.

  5. Lucky Striker says:

    good thing LB is such a “throw away ” position in the league.

    Castillo I’ll grant you.

    Hey “Coach”: What about Atiba frickin Harris ?

  6. The Realist Brian says:

    Welp, that is why we are not buying season tickets anymore. I can’t pay for this garbage. I know plenty of people who have been with the team since the beginning that are also pulling the rip cord. This year will be the year that attendance dips to below 10K, and it will be noticeable. Sugarman needs to sell the team.

    • One game.

    • indeed, one game. I assume the causal relationship between reports of people not re-upping their season tickets and this one game (or was it this one press conference) is that this game (style, results, both, etc.) is the same as prior games. As Vinny said to Mona Lisa, I’m not sure your theory holds water. Also, the small sample size. disappointed by the result but not in it for instant gratification, and never have been. Each can make their own parameters – it would seem to hope for more failure is to give up on the team.

  7. The issue is Curtin’s inability to see what has worked on this field. Lahoud in the middle was so beneficial to the offensive play, him an Nogs were able to keep pace with the midfields of opposing top flight MLS teams. Edu and Marquez in the center of the backline was very productive and made it difficult for teams to penetrate. So what does Curtin do? He gives Lahoud up and eventually will shove Edu into the central midfield position where he has never had any chemistry with Nogs, and also looks very uncomfortable when dealing with pressure from all sides. Curtin needs to go! Take a stand Earnie!

    • Lets calm down with the Lahoud stuff a little here. Decent player who can’t stay healthy and has the exact same passing range as Carroll.

  8. I’m thumbs down on the coach. I think he will not be with us after the all star game.
    Fabinho is a joke and should not be on the field.
    Gaddis is our best defensive outside back and should have started over either back. Marquez is much better than Tribute as well. I like Anderson. Rosenberry is a defensive liability right now, but I will wait to see if he improves.
    Alberg is much better than Ilsinho. Ilsinho has some skill, but is way too slow. He also looks out of shape. Bad choice to start him.
    I believe Ernie will get the team a star forward and relegate Sapong to the bench where he belongs. Herbers did more in 10 mins than Sapong did the whole game. Like what I saw with Herbers
    Carroll did a good job defensively as usual. Just an offensive liability as usual.
    Pontius and Fernandes were blah. Potential is still there with both of them.
    Blake is the real deal!
    Le2 looked pretty good but I don’t want to ever start him.
    Still think we make the playoffs with a new coach and star forward added. Can’t wait to see EDU and Barnetta in line up with Alberg and Nogs!

    • Gaddis, Marquez, and Alberg were all dealing with slight injuries or missed enough preseason time that stopped them from being a starting option this game.
      Agree with Ilsinho, he showed his skill holding off defenders but his overall play was very slow. Lingered on the ball too much.
      Pontius looked good to me. He worked hard defensively and had a few good runs up the left. He also was much stronger in the air then I thought he was, winning a few headers I would not have guessed.

  9. DR. K's soccer intelectual superiority says:

    Blah Blah Blah, sucks, blah blah blah, Curtin, Blah Blah Blah ball watching lemings

  10. This is where boxes are going to be checked for or against Jim Curtin and staff. Chicago prepared for the Union. Curtin just put bodies out on the pitch and did not make smart in game adjustments. Knowing who Dallas was going to come with he could have had Carroll on the bench put Alberg ( he has played DM at higher levels) in to give athleticism, speed and coverage to the backline. It would also have been a better link up with Noguiera and Ilsinho. It would have made Dallas have to defend rather than attack our CB’s so often. Again Fabinho tries to be too cute. Herbers( can play wing) and Le Toux have pace and speed on the wings to force Dallas’ fullbacks to play honest defense. Leo Fernandes could have subbed for Ilsinho. Until Edu and Marquez are healthy enough to start Alberg has the skill to fill that void with Creavalle subing. Jim Curtin had better learn to make moves and be proactive and prepared or he is out of here!

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Has Curtin demonstrated an ability to learn? Who has he studied with? Who has mentored him? Watching other coaches across the pond this weekend, it was easy to see the in game demeanor of winning coaches, and the difference is striking (pun intended).

      • Here, here!

      • How bout Pep undressing Kimmich in front of 80,000 at the Signal Iduna…….and the guy is a converted CDM…….and still put up a clean sheet…..and still got reemed a new one!

      • Mainz hangover? I totally did not get that. Dude is like 20 years old

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        He did it because he knew he could get away with it…….like you said, he’s a 21 year old! Think he would have tried that with Alonso, Robben, Lahm, or Ribery? No chance……..

    • To be fair, I don’t think either goal can be put on Carroll’s lack of athleticism.
      Both were bad turnovers by the outside backs and a lack of communication/covering by the backline on diagonal runs.

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        The LCB needs to shift more to cover that….our CB’s stay pretty central…….they aren’t quick enough to cover what they need to……

      • Carroll couldn’t cover the ground or close down and didn’t have the ball skill to force play and turnovers and neutralize Diaz which is what a competent coach would prepare to do. Carroll was just there. My entire comment was about Jim Curtin not preparing match up with Dallas giving the Union a chance to win. Jim Curtin coaches not to lose instead of having a game plan to win or steal a point on the road.

  11. a glass half full says:

    The completely rebuilt Union squad that has had a month to gel got beat by the arguably the best team in the indisputably best conference in MLS. There’s nothing at all surprising about that. Perhaps the only remarkable thing is that Blake kept the Union in the game at all. Stewart said he expected progress to be slow, and I don”t think he said that simply to dampen expectations.
    Before lining the cliffs of Union Despair, it may be best to consider the fact that the team is (1) without two, maybe three of its best players and (2) is facing a road schedule against the best teams in the league. It’s a tough start, but the results of these first few weeks before the home-opener won’t write the whole book on this season.
    I will say this, someone better let Fabinho know that his sun rocket may be in storage but it can be warmed up and ready for him at a moment’s notice.
    Wenger and Maidana starring for Houston is so Philadelphia, it’s not even funny.

    • Doesn’t bother me at all. I am happy they both scored, but they both did nothing skill related to make those goals. Gimme goals. But hey, a goal is a goal I guess.
      Based on one game, I do feel that Ilsinho is a similar player to Maidana. Very skillful, but no speed or Defense. Out of shape like Maidana was when he got started here. Not sure why ES made the swap unless it made(or saved) the team some money.

      • El Bigote says:

        Ilsinho is out of shape *now*, but will theoretically improve. Last season when Maidana was the fittest he’d been with the team, he was still slow and did nothing for the team’s shape.

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        Yup, his lack of an engine didn’t fit…….


    Do they have more than 6 points by May 1st? I’m giving them draws against CHI/OCSC/NYC and a W on SJE. Not that I think they’re any better, but a lot of MLS teams on cross country trips just come in playing for the road point. U for some reason occasionally take all 3. So maybe 6/8 out of 24 on offer. Can Curtin make the Copa break in June?

  13. Old Soccer Coach says:

    While the preseason evidence displays a desire to play possession, a high defensive line and high pressure throughout the middle third and into the offensive third, a commendable desire in my view, both the NYRB preseason first 65 minutes and the FC Dallas season-opening 93 minutes are giving the clear suggestion that Right now we cannot implement that approach successfully against teams that execute that same approach really well.
    That does not mean we stop trying to play it, especially in the first game of the season in which you are trying to learn it. Please keep in mind that the two teams whose own high presses gave us trouble were separated from each other in winning the trophy that reflects season-long sustained effort over time, the Supporters’ Shield, ONLY by goal difference last year.
    What would you teach your children, get “hot” at the end of your career and finish with a good quarter, or do the best you possibly can consistently for four decades learning how to improve yourself throughout the process?
    NYRB took us out of our game to a degree; Dallas, completely. So Curtin should be guillotined, preferably yesterday. Without question they fell off the bicycle, so they should stop trying to learn to ride? Was that how your parents Taught you to ride bicycles, by having you stop trying to learn?
    If late in the season we have to beat Dallas to achieve a specific concrete goal, or Pink Heiffers, then, yes, it is appropriate to park the bus, try to absorb pressure and hit them on the counterattack to try to steal the game. (getting Drogba on loan would help that approach a great deal, as he made Mourinho a lot better looking as a coach than other evidence suggests he may actually be.)
    But this is still the part of the season when you are still learning what you actually have, and you are definitely still teaching what you want your side to learn.
    You learn much more about your team from a good old fashioned country butt kicking than you do by slaughtering the lambs from Our Lady of the Crippled, Blind, Deaf and Dumb. We are in fact grateful to Dallas for illuminating so clearly such a plethora of opportunities for future growth.
    And I apologize for being cross and grumpy on Sunday. I hate losing just as much as anyone here.

    • – by the 35th minute I had familiar dour feelings welling up inside…. this then will be the litmus test. Matching expectation —- with patience and mid term observations of real growth…and not taking the easy “same Ol Union” road many will take and take gladly… feeling short term vindication….. 18 months is my leash and that includes a likely coaching change should the need come to pass.
      To me the challenge will be providing fair and balanced criticism… which in this day and age is an art form all its own…

  14. Reading Coach’s comments makes me think he’s going to go with the exact same XI next week in Ohio. I’m not saying he’s wrong, I’m saying it’s pretty obvious with Mo and Tranq out that he likes these guys.

    • I hope Marquez and Gaddis are healthy and replace Fabinho and Tribbett. Fabinho cost us the game. Tribbett thought he was playing college soccer. He kept booting the ball down field over and over again. Losing us possession over and over again. Stop making 40 yard passes down field! Play the possession game like we were told you would.

  15. Dr. Union says:

    Once again as is typical with the fanbase people are jumping on Carroll. While I agree he no longer should be a starter on this team I believe he did what he was told to do. If you watch for at least the first 45 he pretty much shadowed Diaz every where Diaz went Carroll went. I see this as a coaching error. One, Carroll clearly can not cover the ground Diaz can at his age. Also, Diaz is smart enough to find space when being man marked. Two, why are you man marking and opponent who is faster, better technically, and quicker on the ball. Cut out the passing lanes contain and help the defenders get back. Three, man marking someone wrecks the shape. Ok sure you can tell me he wasn’t man marking, but I saw Carroll 3 times in the first half make cross field runs over 35 yards to follow Diaz without the ball. This changed in the second half which makes me think that the plan was Curtins to man mark Diaz it didn’t work and thus Carroll told him it wasn’t working. They made a slight change and still didn’t help cause the OB just got out classed and schooled. Fabi not starting quality LB as I’ve always said. Rosenberry should never have started this game and I said that a week or two before the game.

    • Agree with the outside back comments, but there is only one Gaddis. I don’t know enough about Washington to say he should be slotted on the left. Is there anyone else on the team that could fill in one of those spots temporarily? Maybe Creavalle?

      • Dr. Union says:

        It changes the scheme a bit but I would move anderson to LB and Marquez to LCB. Its clear to me Anderson likes to jumping passing lanes and Marquez is fast enough to cover for mistakes. Also anderson can distribute with out pushing as far into the attack and Fabi.

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        You think Anderson has the pace to play a flank back? From what I saw of him at CB……he has nowhere close to that pace needed. I know on his CV it says he plays left back…..but from what I saw Sunday…yikes!

      • Dr. Union says:

        I don’t think he has the pace I think he has the positional sense to play a holding LB role. And Marquez provides cover on the pace end of things. And you get deep lying distribution a different style than Fabi who trys to get up the line and whip things across. It would be an entirely different style of play but I think it solidifies the back more. Either that or you switch to a back 3 with wingback play.

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        I hear you on this, my only critique would be the Union want their backs to get forward…often, they provide the width. You don’t see a whole lot of flank backs staying home these days…they want them box-to-box.

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        I’ve been preaching a three back for at least two years…….if you don’t have a competent back four…..go 3-5-2, 3-2-3-2, or 5-3-2!

      • I can agree with the back 3 I can even agree that they want to send they OB box to box. However, this has never worked from the Union and were not getting much production off the OB anyway in say the last 3 or so years. Lets try something different keep all 4 at home flood the middle with a flat four as well and play 2 up top and work the ball inside to out through are possession oriented guys. A simple 4-4-2 could solve many problems I believe with a stay at home back 4 throw barnetta, nogs, alberg, ilsinho all in the middle for possession. and pontius and sapong up top. I mean there are so many ways to go that I think could improve the Unions chances then pushing our OB high when they just can’t get back and don’t have the positional awareness to do it. And we don’t have the destroyer number 6 to kill off other teams counters.

      • Not a bad analysis…….

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