Press Conference

Transcript: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement

To touch on Dallas, not our best performance, [one] that nobody is happy with — the players, the coaching staff, the fans. We had a lot of high expectations this year. I think we had a very strong preseason, we have a very good group of guys, a good team. And that was not us, that’s the consensus.

We just had a good long film session and talked through some things that we can grow from and learn but, at the same time, when you go down and lose a game you want to it to be with a fight and being able to look in the mirror and say “That was our best effort.” In the moments in this game I think we came up a little bit small; we were a little timid which, again, wasn’t the group that we saw in preseason. The players agree.

From that standpoint though, having said all those things, again, we’re not happy with it. At the same time, when you looked up in the 78th minute on the road against Dallas [and] we’re down 1-0 and still with a chance, a couple of good opportunities to make a play and steal a point — you take that away, you learn from it.

Again, we left Dalla with zero so we’re not happy. Knew it was going to be a tough task — take nothing away from FC Dallas, they’re a great team, they’re going to be a team that contends for MLS Cup this year.

We have no favors in terms of schedule, we go on the road now to play Columbus in their home opener; again, an MLS Cup finalist. It won’t be any easier for us [but] we won’t feel sorry for ourselves. We know that the bar has to be raised, and I think the players have got that message, and we’ll see a better performance from the group against Columbus.

Before we go any further, bad news on the Union end from the team perspective. We’ll be losing Maurice Ed for a significant amount of time. There’s a fracture that was found in his leg. A frustrating process, I think, for everybody involved in terms of finding a diagnosis; a lot of things don’t always show up on MRIs or bone scans. Finally got to the bottom of it though and the X-ray revealed there’s a fracture there. He’ll be out at a minimum three months time.

So, a big blow to a lot of the foundation of what we planned to do this year in terms of having him in the No. 6 role. But, having said that, Mo hasn’t been with us in the preseason. He’s a big part of what we want to do, he’s a big leader. But, at the same time, it’ll be a next guy has to step up. We’ve been without him for a long time in the preseason and guys have performed well. So, we’ll expect more of the same. We need to have a good mentality, stick together through a tough time — injuries happen, they’re part of the game. Columbus doesn’t care one way or the other — it doesn’t wait for anybody, so we’ll need to be ready to go, even though we do lose Mo.

Options at the No. 6 

There’s a couple of different things you can do. Brian has done a good job all preseason. The group that played the game against FC Dallas is the group that earned the minutes in preseason whether that was, in certain situations, injury, was it visa issues, different things that were going on with the group. But, the team that earned the right to play opening day was on the field. And, again, there were a lot of variables that came into that with Ray missing time to a knee injury, Richie missing time to a groin/hamstring issue, Roland having to go overseas and finalize his paperwork and different things like that.

So, the team that was selected was the best group. We’ll have to adjust to see what makes the most sense. BC has been sharp all preseason; he was one of the few guys who I thought on the weekend that had a positive performance along with, maybe, Andre, at least was breaking up plays and did a decent job for us. So, again, we’ll look at it, look at the tape, and go week-to-week, but it does change our team, obviously. But, at the same time, I’m happy with the guys that we have, I’m comfortable with the guys that we have — Warren, Brian — who ever it is — Vincent that can go in there and do the job in that No. 6 role.

On the recovery time Edu is facing

We have a new building opening up that has a treadmill and a pool. All that stuff is great, and he’ll be as aggressive as possible in a smart way, to get back to full fitness. Obviously, you can maintain fitness through swimming and all these things, but any pro knows that it doesn’t come close to replicating the game. The reality is that he’s going to be on crutches, he’s going to be in a boot for a while, and the fitness is not the same that you get in a swimming pool as it is chasing around Castillo and Mauro Diaz, it’s just not.

He has to get back with our group on the field before we can even talk about Mo again contributing to the group.

When did you learn about the fracture?

Officially, a couple of days ago was the final X-ray that we received that had clear [picture]. So, it’s good that we have clarity now. Again, it’s a tough blow but, at the same time, I have a good group of players that I believe in that will step up and in his absence, and we’ll be OK.

On Keegan Rosenberry’s performance against Dallas 

Keegan had a lot of positives. He had about as difficult a task as you could have for a rookie. He didn’t play like a rookie, I don’t think. Are there things he could do better? Are there things that guys around him can do better to make his job a little easier, having help inside sometimes? A couple of turnovers for him but, for the most part, pretty good with the ball. I think he’s wise beyond his years. WIns things in the air and makes smart decisions. He has a high soccer IQ.

Again, I will stress, we are not happy with the performance but, at the same time, you look up in the 60th minute the ball that keegan plays across the box, if we get on the end of that and it’s 1-1, you know, it changes the game. So, he has the ability to do that, he’s a very good player, someone we’re very high on going into this weekend.

On the challenge of playing in Columbus

Gregg has a very good team, first and foremost, they’re very disciplined. Their approach is to build out of the back; they play a good, attractive brand of soccer. Again, it’s a tough environment, it’s the team’s home opener so you have to try to use that to your advantage. So, maybe with a team like them that throws their outside backs forward so aggressively we have to be disciplined and we also have to, when we do get our chances because, again, Columbus does concede chances, you have to take advantage of them, you can’t have any in between like we had a little bit in the Dallas game. We still had two or three clear-cut chances where you have to be ruthless, and Columbus is no different.

Again, a team we respect, but we’re not scared, that has to be our mindset. I think the big word that kept coming up in our discussions was that we were a little timid against Dallas, and that’s something we hadn’t seen. That’s where we’re frustrated; the players are frustrated. And they’re going to, they’ll step it up.

Why the timidity?

You had five guys on the field that it’s their first MLS action. Andre’s a young goalkeeper, as well. Leo Fernandes is a guy who’s played in some MLS games but, to be honest, it’s been awhile since he’s played one. So, again, the mental side of the game is a big part of it. We just want to see — and the guys, it’s clear to them and they’re on the same page when we went through the film session — they know the mistakes that were made. A lot of it still is self inflicted, whether it’s the guy slipping and falling in a bad spot, a mistake, a bounce that goes Dallas’ way — it just wasn’t our day. There’s a couple of things we can build on, and we’ll learn from it, we’ll grow, we’ll be a better team for it. But getting young guys an opportunity out there, you always can learn and grow.

On key Columbus players 

Yeah, they have about — they have a good team. Kei Kamara, obviously Higuain is their No. 10, they’re engine that kind of makes them go. I think you have to do a good job with Columbus in not letting their outside backs make you be the team that’s backpedaling and just absorbing pressure the entire time. Afful has a green light to really just go down that right side. You have to be, obviously, disciplined when you do win balls and play in the spaces that he’s vacated. They do take risks; again, a very good team on the ball. A guy like Will Trapp who sits in the middle and kind of tries to dictate the flow of the game, we’ll have to disrupt that in a way that gets them out of their rhythm. But, again, they have special players, just like we have special players, and it will about who makes plays in both boxes, offensively and defensively.

What is the status of Alberg, Gaddis and Marquez?   

They’re close, they’re pushing, they’re knocking on the door. Richie wants to be on the field. Richie played a lot of minutes last year [audio jump] too, everyone has to take advantage of their minutes. It’s good to have competition, it’s good to have Ray wanting to be back on the field and push Keegan in a good way.

It needs to be said, too, the relationships are healthy ones, it’s not that guys are not helping and supporting each other. Ray was the first guy to help Keegan all preseason so I don’t want to paint a picture that it’s two guys pitted against each other. But, they’re bringing better quality out of each other and, over the course of 34 games, we’re going to need both guys at each spot.

Did any players surprise you positively with their performance against Dallas?

I think, first and foremost, we win as a team and we lose as a team. We stressed a lot today everybody has to attack and everybody has to defend. In terms of individual performances, obviously, Andre had a strong one but,at the same time, it wasn’t a game where we’ll single guys out and kind of speculate. We saw glimpses of certain guys and positives but everybody had some negatives, as well. I don’t think it was a game where everybody checked the positive box, and that’s what we need: just to be good, not feel the need to be great and do something special every time you’re on the ball.

But, it wasn’t us, I’ll still will go back to that; that’s not the group that we’ve seen, and I’m confident that we’ll get it back.

On Tranquillo Barnetta

He’s running. Again, he’ll be kind of a week-to-week situation but, at the same time, we have to be smart with his knee. He knows his body well. Our doctors do a great job, our rehab people do a great job, and we’ll assess it. I’ll talk with Tranquillo every day and continue to see what’s best for that situation.

On the stylistic differences between Dallas and Columbus

I would say Columbus builds even more than Dallas does out of the back; with their two center backs being split wide their outside backs are a lot higher up the field. Dallas did a version of that, they threw Atiba Harris just on one side forward and they had Figueroa stay back, so a little different shape. Their wide guys they ask them to come inside a great deal and, obviously, they have the outlet in Kei Kamara, who’s a handful, you have to do a good job winning the aerial game with him. They’re a team that gets the ball wide and whips in as many crosses as possible to Kei, and then also has the variable of Finlay running underneath. Finlay-Castillo, some similarities with the speed and the eagerness to get in behind. But, yeah, a different team, a little bit different look in the way that they push both outside backs forward. That would be probably the biggest difference.

On Fabinho’s performance against Dallas

Fabinho had a tough game. Fabinho knows that, he felt that. But, at the same time, everybody around him could have done a better job and helped him in certain situations. A couple of plays where, you know, he loses his footing. Again, it was just a day where things didn’t go his way and, again, in moments like that you hope that the teammates around him can do a better job of bailing him out of a tough situation. It was a hard one for him but, at the same time, he’ll be up for the test against Columbus now.


  1. MikeRSoccer says:

    This press conference didn’t do much to dissuade those of us who question Curtin’s tactics. Moreover, it’s the first significant question that Earnie has faced: why, in the context of espousing depth, did such a crucial position for our formation (CDM) go unaddressed this off season?

    We knew CDM was an issue last season. We knew that Edu had been out since September. We all suspected in January that Edu would not be ready for the season. On this roster, we have 3 players who can start at RW, 4 at CAM, 4 at LW, but really only 1 starter at CDM. I realize that we have BC and Creavalle, but can anyone seriously argue that they are starting caliber players who could push Edu?

    Very frustrating.

  2. I think Warren Crevalle in the system this team wants to play is certainly a competent 6.
    My problem is the manager seems to sound as though he prefers Brian Carroll in this role and it is simply inexcusable as a solution.
    You want to send out BC cause WC is not yet up to match fitness…fine but the second…the second– Warren Crevalle is healthy he is your starter in this position.
    To do anything other than this… causes me to question everything about the manager…as if I needed ONE reason to do that.
    Come on Jim.
    This is simply too important and IMO telling about what this guy is thinking… this is a BIG deal.
    There is a solution in place… the SD provided depth in this position. Warren Crevalle showed well when I saw him in the preseason… I think we were all a bit happily surprised.
    I will not write one more word about this. This is a no brainer.
    To be honest I think Noguiera is fine in the 6 with Barnetta on the field but thats me.

  3. I’m just kinda…numb, I guess. As much as I like playing the part of the unrelenting realist, I’d be lying if I said a little part, deep inside me, didn’t maintain a little bit of hope that maybe everybody else was right and I was too negative. But now…now I really can’t see it. Edu certainly has his flaws, but he was by far the most irreplaceable guy on this roster. I’m sorry, neither Carroll nor Creavalle should be seeing more than USOC, friendly, and holding-lead-at-end-of-game work.
    I really do enjoy watching the Union, even when they suck. But I don’t know that I can watch a whole season of the Union playing 10v11. I just…I can’t.

    • I doesn’t mean the group is wrong or right or ultimately you are wrong or right… what matters at this point is how is the coach going to manage this.
      How is he going to solve the puzzle with a missing piece.
      Is the guy a problem solver.
      Warren Creavalle was a starter in this league and is a serviceable HDM… he is the depth in case of injury… the solution is right there… I don’t give a rats ass if Brian Carroll ‘looked’ good all preseason. He cannot possibly be your 12 – 14 game solution.
      I believe this is going to be okay provided the right move is made.

  4. Here’s the thing: competing for the XI may be great (or not) where you have comparably talented players (2 deep). But if you’re telling me BC earned the start and that he had a good game – like Blake, for goodness sake! – then I believe you’re coaching yourself out of your job. And I’m beginning to wonder if this club’s fitness and injury issues are a byproduct of excessively competitive training to earn starts. Curtin is managing to the MLS in which he played. At this rate, I predict Big Ern drops the hammer just as soon as he has Jim’s successor lined up following yet another desultory start. And the disgruntled fans will be all Jay needs to bless the firing. Nice knowing you, Jimbo. Good luck coaching at the college level. Really.

  5. Opening act of comedic tragedy: Forrest Theater.
    So Union.
    OPENING SCENE: a driveway with a car driving by trailing off at full volume, “I’ve been doooown since I began to crawl….if it wasn’t for bad luck…if it wasn’t for r.e.a.l bad luck…. (hi hat) I wouldn’t haaaaave no luck at all.
    Chorus: What if Warren Crevealle is healthy and proves to be the guy… and Barnetta is fit and the offense and defense begin to resemble what it is we think and more importantly what the SD and manager think it should… and then Edu gets healthy and is reinserted back into the DM role at which point it becomes clear he is not the way forward as the team seems to struggle with his presence in the line up and we unload the salary…as many here believe we should… and move in a different direction.

  6. Dr. Union says:

    I’m probably one of the only people to believe this, but I think this team is better off without Edu. I never thought he fit. Now the problem is they got nothing for him cause he will just be sitting injured till that contract can be dumped. But lets move on. This team could be fine and I’ve said this so many times before and many of you have agreed. This team could be fine if they switch the tactics and look at what they have the players to do. High press, send the OB high, and maintain possession are none of the strong suits of the Union and never have been. Options of things that could work 4-4-2(Flat (preferred) or Diamond both could work), 4-1-3-2, 5-3-2, 3-4-1-2, 3-5-2, 4-1-4-1. Many options just stop trying to push the OB high who don’t have the skill to do it. And sorry Rosenberry fans the kid can learn, but he is not ready yet to play an OB who is attack oriented and his defense is suspect from what I’ve seen in preseason and game 1. Now the system problem won’t change and their going to try to put square pegs into round holes all season and some people can learn and some will not. But this will not get us any further then last season. I get you pick a system and stick with it, but my question is has this franchise ever picked the right system? I obviously say no.

    • John Ling says:

      I agree that Edu isn’t a fit here. I’d personally go so far as to say “overrated” especially when compared to his salary.
      So we’re a minority, Doc, but we’re not alone!

    • We saw Edu’s conviction he is a box-to-box DM against the Galaxy last year. He’s not the answer in Earnie’s system.

  7. Saturday Night we all will watch another mindless disorganized display of what Jim Curtin will refer as his “system.” Columbus will exploit Fabinho and Carroll (because we know they will be starters), and our CB’s and GK will be shelled worse than veterans from the Somme………if you listen intently you can hear Jim’s Career “Funeral Dirge” over the flat field of Columbus Crew’s Stadium as the game enters the 90th minute.

    Maybe there should be a whole section of supporters dressed as “Grim Reapers” on March 20th? Thanks for laughs and the “stool samples” you have left each and every game these past seasons Jim, but it’s time this club finally uses that “enema” and rids itself from all prior personnel and players associated.

    Ernie’s Shopping list?:
    1.) Experienced Head Coach that fits his philosophy
    2.) Striker
    3.) CDM #6 Pivot
    List of Possible Departures?:
    1.) Jim Curtin and Assistant Coaching Staff
    2.) Andre Blake – To a European Club
    3.) Mo Edu – Health / Playing not meeting his Wages
    4.) Brian Carroll – Too Old
    5.) Fabinho – Self Explanatory

    I have complete faith in Ernie Stewart, and that he will shape this club into a respectable and fun club to watch over-time. I fail to see Jim Curtin being any part of that, and with Edu gone until July……Jim doesn’t see Memorial Day, and to be honest that is being generous.

    No Matter What, at Least the Beer will be COLD at Fado or Brauhaus on Saturday night!

    “Note To Self: Remember, No Matter How Bad Life Gets, There is Always Beer!” – Mitch Weaver (Norm MacDonald) – Dirty Work

  8. You’d think Jim’s marching orders are to play Big Ern’s style – subject to personnel limitations. That said, he watched the same match we all did. Would he compare Carroll’s game with Blake’s like Jimbo did? One can only hope not.

    Before Earnie can make a switch, however, he also needs to replace the FO knowledge of the MLS peculiar way of doing business that he now lacks. But it’s not too soon for him to make his wishlist. While Jay could ask Don for names, word might get back to Chris or Jim in the incestuous MLS.

    Sadly, palace intrigue may be the only topic worth watching this week.

  9. For all of the roster turnover, the Union went into the start of the season thin at two spots – CDM and striker. Rolling those dice has already come up snake eyes at CDM, and I was wincing when CJ was down in the box grabbing his cheek in the Dallas game.

    The biggest indictment of Curtin to me is not playing Marquez.
    Two slow CB’s? The league has changed since you played, Jim.

    So who has more wins at the end of their season – the 2015-16 Sixers, or the 2016 Union?

  10. Mo has got to go. Curtin is already gone. Fabi is fun (this is a child’s game and it’s good to see players having fun and trying things) depth and I, for one, do not want him shot into the sun. BC shouldn’t start and WC shouldn’t get such a bad rap having not logged a single minute this year. With Noggy at the 6 and Barny on the field we’re trading chance creation, not completely losing it.
    We’ve played one game in a season we all expected to start rough. Did any of you foolishly expect us to come out of the gate with shape and creativity? Possession and decisiveness? Come on, this is still the Union, even if they got some new shiny parts over the winter.
    Columbus will be another rough night but we’ll be able to better diagnosis the repeated problems and the new problems. Who knows, we might even score!

  11. Is it just me or is Curtin sounding a lot like Hackworth right now? Hack backed his favorite players to a fault and it seems that’s what’s happening with BC this season. Yes, we’ve only played 1 game, but he shouldn’t be your first go to for a backup.
    I was hoping for some news that Marquez will be in the lineup this weekend (as he should be if healthy), but we get this “he’s knocking on the door” BS, WTH does that even mean? Same with Gaddis.
    Alberg should be starting as long as Barnetta is out of the lineup, no excuses. He was the depth player that was signed for that position. Speaking of Barnetta, now he’s week to week?? Ugh!
    Creavalle, Alberg, Marquez, Gaddis, and Le Toux should all be starting this weekend. If we see the same lineup as last week (that registered 2 shots on target and forced Blake to make 8 awesome saves) I will throw up in my mouth.
    All this talk about this year being a new Union, new look, new direction…. seems like the same BS to me.

  12. We’ll have more information after the first home game in terms of how this team will fare this year, but after the preseason and first game, the prospect unfortunately doesn’t look bright in my opinion.

    I don’t see viable options in Carroll and Nogs as #6. Nogs is not a destoyer of play and gets pushed off the ball too easy. I’d say put in Warren C. and give him a chance to earn it. Pair him with Nogs as #8, move Ilsinho to the right, Alberg as CAM and maybe Fernandes to left wing (where he played in Cosmos) or even Le2 or perhaps give Pontius another chance to show what Curtin sees in him.

    Going forward, I honestly don’t see much change happenning when Barnetta and Edu are back in the lineup IF the current starters keep up the bad work and attitude. Barnetta may have soccer IQ but he’s slow and Mo is not disciplined. Fernandes was and still is slow and dissapears for long stretches of the match (He was also the best man in preseason in 2014 and look what that got him), Pontius has shown nothing on offense and has been worst in defense.

    I would continue to play KR over RG every day. Even with his performance in Dallas he has shown to be a much better player than Ray. If Fabi keeps his last performance up, perhaps is time to try Anderson as a left back and pair up the youngsters Marquez and Tribbet in the middle.

    I hope Curtin can come up with a way to get some attitude out of these players that in paper should perform better than they’ve shown so far, but my hopes are not high on that end. I still think that ES gave JC some rope with some of the signings and initial personnel decisions while he himself gets acquainted with MLS and it is up to JC not to hang himself with it.

  13. Why did this team play “timid?” Isn’t that the worst of the myriad problems on full display in the blinding glare of the Texas sunshine?
    Yes, many new faces – and new to each other; but, it’s up to the manager to get the players to inspire them to play. Where were the hard, fair fouls we were promised? Instead we got BC putting Diaz in a Half Nelson because he was beaten so badly.
    Only one game. Beside Blake (what would you say if the score had been 4-0, which is easily possible without his 8 saves), what positive signs did you see? What encouragement can you take from JC’s words since?
    I find none. Wish I did.

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