Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement

I was very proud of the group. I thought from the standpoint of performance it was one of our best. Disappointing, obviously, not to get points but, at the same time, when we talk about looking like the same team home and away, that was our most complete performance in terms of that. Being aggressive, being brave, I thought the guys high pressed from minute 1 through 90, even though we were down a man for 40 minutes. So, proud of them from that standpoint.

Disappointing with the second red card; in a road performance, that’s always going to make it a little more challenging. But, a lot of good things to take away, a lot of good performances from individuals, I thought we passed as a team very well. Still need to be a little more decisive on that final ball, and that’s something that we’ll look to improve as we face a very good New York City FC team coming in that is in need of points.

On the decision to start Josh Yaro against Seattle

Josh is a guy that, again, first and foremost I’m high on as a defender. Physically has all the tools: one-v-one, can run, good in the air, reads things early — checks a lot of boxes. You’re always nervous for a young player making his debut in an environment as tough as Seattle, so there’s a little concern maybe with the mental side of things and being able to rise to that moment. I thought everybody around him helped him, talked well with him before the game, got him ready.

But, in terms of making the decision, it was an easy one. If, for example, Richie Marquez was the one that went down earlier in the week, Anderson likely plays. It’s that familiarity, the comfort on the left-hand side that Anderson has, and the comfort on the right-hand side that Josh has. Obviously, Keegan being in there is a little bit of a comfort zone for Josh, but we thought that that was the best way to go, as opposed to juggling two guys in two spots. We like Richie on the left right now, currently, and his relationship with Fabinho. So, position specific.

How’s Ken Tribbett’s ankle sprain coming along?

Good. Today was his first day on the field. He had what I would call a partial training session so he was back out, was able to cut on it. To be honest, further along than I thought he would be. You can still see it’s a little uncomfortable for him; maybe it’s getting used to playing with a taped ankle, for some guys [it’s] a big adjustment, you can see he has the bulky tape on his one ankle. He looked good, though. We’re optimistic but we’re going to be smart in how we approach it. He’s been a very important piece for us,a great defender, good knowledge of the game and [has] been a leader back there.

Obviously, having Josh a good game makes a choice a little easier. So, again, it’s still a little early in the week, we have a couple of days to see how he gets through. He’s supposed to join full training tomorrow, that was the plan. We’ll see, I don’t think there were any setbacks. We’ll tain again this afternoon, see how the ankle responds to some cutting and some moving. Again, it’s a good thing that it’s still Wednesday but we’ll have a tough choice to make and it’ll be one we’ll do [with] what’s in the best interest of, obviously, the team and Ken.

Update on Ilsinho

He trained fully today, looked good. Again, you get him going in a possession exercise the first day of the week, which was yesterday, and he doesn’t have any of the usual rust that you’d see a typical player have in a possession exercise: he wants the ball in tight spots, there’s no missing touches or anything, so, he looked sharp. Good to see.

I talked with him today after training and he said when he does open up into a full sprint — which, obviously, comes up in the games — he does still…he notices it, it’s not painful but he notices it. Which is, again, concerning when you hear that but, at the same time, he was able to hit some top speeds today the data showed when he opened up and ran, and he’s covering the ground defensively. So, it looks like he’ll be available for selection this week, which is good.

On Yaro needing to have a short term memory after a poor performance with Bethlehem Steel before the Seattle game and it not being too difficult a decision to start him if he is next up on the depth chart

Yeah, well, you still have to make a decision, obviously, but we thought this was the best one. Again, there is something that goes into the matchup — Jordan Morris’s pace — so I won’t just say it is as cut and dry as one guy’s out, one guy’s back in, you always explore the other options. Josh had a tough game, no question about it, for Bethlehem. We talked about it being a learning curve for him. Yeah, you have to step up, the game’s going to be a lot faster, the atmosphere’s going to be a lot crazier in Seattle than it is down at Bethlehem, and all the things that that entails. But, he had good players around him that helped him and made it easy, and made his job predictable, is probably the best way to put it, so he’s not having to do too much outside of his comfort zone. So, Josh stepped in, did a good job. It’s one game. I talked about [how] now it’s hard for him to put another good performance together — and another, and another  — and then you start to talk about having a good season, and then another good year, and then you start to talk about a career. Good first step but, again, I’m not naive, I know it’s just one good game from him, and we need more.

On Yaro possibly starting against NYCFC

No easy task again. You got Clint Dempsey a little bit, dealing with him, dealing with Jordan Morris, who’s got some pace, and now possibly David Villa this week. David Villa does a good job whether he’s the high gus as the No. 9 as a target, or as a guy who plays out wide and comes in off your blind spot off your shoulder. As clever a goalscorer as there’s been in our game, lives kind of on the edge. If you remember back to the Marco Di Vaio times when he would almost be offside seven, eight times just looking for that one chance, and that’s similar with David Villa. All good goalscorers, they play right on that edge. When he gets the ball in the box he’s as dangerous as anybody, so Josh would have to be alert on the day but, again, it’s a combined, joint effort with whoever else is out there on the backline. But, yeah, a match up we’ve begun discussions [about], all the tricks, and cutbacks, and the way that David Villa creates space for himself in the box is special, and not being over aggressive and undisciplined and leaving your feet because he does draw a lot of PKs, as well. So, trying to prepare him as best we can without overwhelming him is kind of the balance we’re looking for right now.

On the positives in Andre Blake’s play so far

Andre’s been excellent, in every game he’s had what I would call a special save. He’s done that in our wins, he’s done that in our losses to keep us in games. Did it in Seattle again, had a very good game even though we didn’t come out on the right end of the result. Again, it gives our center backs confidence, it gives our team confidence, that, yes, we can be aggressive as a team and Andre will be there to make the save that he’s supposed to make, but also make the special one that keeps you in a game. He’s played very well; the league has noticed, the coaches in the league have noticed, his national team has noticed so, it’s a big year for him. we hope he continues on this trajectory and has a strong year from start to finish. But, yeah, the things you’ve seen so far are not a fluke, he is that good.

With Warren Creavalle and Roland Alberg getting second half red cards after already being on a yellow in two road games, anything you would differently in retrospect like subbing them out at halftime?

We always knew Tranquillo was probably going to be going in the game somewhere around the 60 minute mark, depending on what the game needed, obviously. At that stage…You know, we talked about it all week, staying on our feet, not leaving our feet, not leaving it up to the referee. It’s been a recurring theme, we bring it up every day, but sometimes in the heat of the moment when guys — in Roland’s case he lost possession and kind of — I don’t think he even sees Roban in his blind side — and a tackle that looks a lot worse than mayber Roland intended. They did look at it further but it’s going to be the typical one-game suspension, we got word on that.

Yeah, you think about it in hindsight, yes. It’s always tricky. Fabinho’s had four yellow cards also, and we’ve debated, you know, should we protect him and take him out. You have to trust your players, that they can manage it; in this instance, it didn’t go well because we lost Roland and that was a negative; playing with one less man is, obviously, much more challenging. But, no, if I had it to do over again I’d trust him and leave him out there for the time. I don’t really believe in pulling a guy at halftime and completely changing everything for the sake of potentially not getting ejected.

But, we need to be smart, not leave our feet and leave it up to the referee’s discretion because, as you’ve seen this year, I think 19 red cards. It’s a hot issue right now.

Are these isolated instances? Anything that needs to be changed in the team mentality?

No, I mean, we’ve talked about it as a group a ton. Again: staying on your feet; if you leave your feet it’s like the old Paolo Maldini [line]: “If I left my feet, I did something wrong. It’s something I could’ve prevented two or three seconds prior” — whether it’s moving, sliding, whatever it might be. So, that’s something we’ve preached. It should be: To block a shot? Yes. To prevent a goal? Yes. But at midfield where both of our’s have taken place, I think you let them be, and you live to fight another day. Leaving your feet in that area of the field is a risk, especially this season. So, yeah, trust me, it’s something we’ve addressed internally a lot. I think it’s a bit unfortunate the way both of them went. I don’t think it’s a discipline issue, I think we’ve been an organized, disciplined team that’s played the right way in all of our games, so I do believe it’s just unfortunate. And, again, on the road, it’s hard enough to win in this league. To do it down a man for 40 minutes is going to be very hard.

With Alberg suspended, what are the options for the NYCFC game?

Obviously, Tranquillo is comfortable playing in there as the 10, that was kind of going into the season one of the options that we wanted [and then] he had the unfortunate injury. It’s just naturally now the next man up mentality, he can step right in there and that won’t be an issue. Leo Fernandes is a guy who’s in very good form in training each and every day and has contributed at the end of games for us, and at the start of games early on in the year. So, have a couple of options there. They’re good ones.

It helps that we have depth any time you lose a guy to suspension, injury, whatever it might be [because] we’re going to call on everybody, everybody’s going to play a role. You saw that this past weekend where we finished the game three young draft picks on the field. So, we believe in everybody on the roster, we’re going to use everybody on the roster, and we have a good team.

On Andrea Pirlo

If you talk about a guy who’s won everything, he is special in that regard. His knowledge of the game, how effortless he makes it look…People will be critical because he doesn’t run but that’s because he sees things early, he sees danger before it comes up, and his ability on the ball is as good as anyone in our league. He’s a world-class player, a top player that we’ll respect, obviously, a great deal; obviously, we can’t fear him. We have respect for their entire team, they’re well coached, they’re organized. In the preseason when you watched them play, they were one of the sharpest teams all preseason, and they’re eager for points right now. It’ll be a tough game, everybody will have to be on the top of their game to get a result. But, yeah, Pirlo is a guy who they build out of the back through, comfortable in tight spots, and can make a final pass that we’ll need to be smart with. Also, can’t foul him around the box because he’s exceptional at free kicks. So, great player; he’ll be a handful for our guys.

On NYCFC’s defensive struggles

They’ve just had a lot of unfortunate injuries go against them. I think they haven’t had consistency with the backline just because of a variety of different injuries that they’ve had so they’re still a very good team. They look to play out of the back so we’ll have to be ready for that. Again, a lot of times when you see teams that are conceding goals, it’s because of injuries, no consistency in the group that they have on the field. Again, it’s hard to get goals, it’s the hardest thing to do in our league is to score. So, we know that they’ll put together a team that’s going to be difficult to play against. We’ll have to be sharp in front of our home fans; we have four out of five here now. We got through a tough stretch with a lot of road games, have set ourselves up ok to move forward and get a result but New York is another conference rival [and] there’s certainly no easy games in our league.

On Eric Ayuk and Derrick Jones doing well with Bethlehem Steel in their last game

Excited for those guys. I got to watch the game and they did well, both of them. Ayuk in maybe a new position kind of playing underneath the forward in the 10 role. I talked to him about it today, he really enjoyed it, on the ball a lot. His workrate will always be his workrate, it’s incredible. He plays the game with a smile on his face, good for him to get rewarded with some goals. Also good for Jonesy, too, who bounced back from a tough performance against Red Bull II and got himself a goal and was one of the better players on the field, too. I think between him and Ayuk they had a lot of positives.

Brendan Burke is doing a great job with that group bringing those players along. And a really good response — that’s how you measure team’s character, how they respond after a difficult performance, and they really passed that test and played a really good game against a good Richmond team.

On how Warren Creavalle did as a No. 6 and the decision to play him there

Again, a lot of factors. We have three guys that have been playing really well; between two spots to choose from, three guys playing well at the 6 and the 8 spots. So, we decided with every factor — it’s not one thing but with the travel, the turf, BC had given us five very strong games, the idea that Dempsey is a guy who doesn’t really play as a true forward and comes deeper and tries to create numbers up advantages in the middle — we thought that Warren would be a good matchup to break plays up and, I thought, on the day he had a very strong game. Missed a couple of easy passes but usually he wound up correcting it by winning the ball right back. So, happy with how Warren played. I thought Vincent had his best game of the year. So, again,we have three really good players right now for two spots. We’ll have to be smart how we get through the 34 games. We saw a window — on the turf, away, long travel, all the variable that I’ve already brought up, as well — to get BC a bit of a breather, for lack of a better term. I hate saying that because we didn’t really rest him, but you guys get the idea: three good players, two spots. We went with Warren and Vincent, who I thought both did a very good job.

Still gets to me that we didn’t get points in that game because I thought we played well.

On Maurice Edu’s progress recovering from his injury

Mo’s back on the field, good to have him part of the group. I’ve kept him busy giving little scouting reports looking ahead to to the team that we’re playing in the coming week just to see how he sees the game. We’ve started talking about him studying some players that I think have similar qualities at the 6 role.

So, we’re getting closer, we’re starting to have him around a lot more, which is good. I think it’s always hard as an injured player to feel part of the group and I think him being on the field, riding a bike, starting to do some exercises with the guys, having a pass,little thing like that, keeping him involved, helping with the scouting — he’s done good at that too,by the way, for what that’s worth, he sees the game pretty well — so, getting closer. Again, the timeline is still the timeline, still have a little ways off, but we’re happy, like I said, with the guys who are playing in his spot right now,they’re doing a good job.

Is Edu running?

He’s not fully running yet. I would say he’s on his feet, maybe a slow jog, that’s about it. But, again, to call it running and soccer running are two different, different things, and he’s not quite there yet.

Why is he scouting?

To keep him busy, keep his mind on the game. I think it’s always good to keep an eye on the rest of the league; it’s good for me as a coach to see what he sees as attacking and defensive strengths of our group, of another team’s group, what players he rates, what players he doesn’t. So,there’s a bit of it, selfishly for me, to get in his brain a little bit. It’s been impressive, he’s done a good job with it, it keeps him busy. It does some busy work for us, too, it helps in all regards.

It makes him feel more part of it, too, just because it makes you feel a little bit closer, I think.

Same as having the stationary bike on the sidelines during training?

Exactly, exactly similar. When you’re out on the field with the guys it’s a different feel to it. When you’re in there isolated — I’ve been there — it’s hard, man. For a guy who’s been a captain of this team, you don’t — no matter what — you don’t feel the same because you’re not joking every day, complaining about the exercises I put them through, complaining that we’re running too much, working too hard, this or that. It’s a good way to keep him involved, and it’s been really beneficial to our coaching staff, as well.

On Keegan Rosenberry

I think Keegan is a very, very good right back. His soccer IQ is the first thing that I go to. Incredibly smart player, studies the game, studies the other teams, knows the league well. So, I think from the starting point, he had a really high starting point. Always room to improve for a young player, but now when you talk about a guy who recognizes moments to get into the attack and get crosses in — we always set the goal for three per half from him, and he tends to hit it every game. Again, very coachable. Does good one-v-one defending; can always improve on that, any defender can. So, again, the foundation has been set. I think between him, Josh, Herbers, Cole Missimo, and Taylor Washington, I think it’s a good foundation of young players and Keegan is the one right now who has emerged as the guy who’s on the field, but, It needs to be said, they’re all doing well. He’s running with his time on the field right now, he’s contributing in a big way, sometimes through assists and setting up goals. So, happy with where he’s at. Probably a better athlete than people would recognize in terms of jumping, running, change of direction; maybe doesn’t pass the eyeball test because he’s not a big, strong looking kid, but he is deceptively very explosive and does a really good job in terms of reading the game and being a really good weapon going forward, as well.

 

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Willing to bet that Edu scouting is an Earnie move.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    You might be correct. But you are challenging a direct statement by Jim Curtin, “I’ve kept him busy … .” So you are assuming the use of the first person singular is a false claim. If the claim is untrue, it is unwise to make it, unless you are under instructions shield the originator of the idea from public exposure. Even in that case, making a false claim publicly when guys whose respect you need will likely know it is false is unwise in the long term. Respect and credibility are important elements of leadership.

  3. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    gute Besserung, Ken Tribbett

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    .
    I am quite confident in saying, I watched nearly every game Pirlo played for Juventus over a three year period~ I am also quite certain I can count on two hands the amount of times I have seen Pirlo in a full tilt sprint anywhere on the field.
    .
    There is a reason for that and it has nothing to do with a lack of effort…
    .
    Oh and while I’m thinking about sensational international players…. hey Dunga, the guy’s name you need to pencil in is Coutinho, Philip.

    • Positionally and intelligence wise Pirlo will always be one of the best. If you know where you are suppose to be and your role, running is not an issue. It is a reason to hate and love his style of play, but no one can doubt his ability, skill, and positional awareness again one of the best in the game. Also would kill to have someone who has his skill serving the ball on the Union, I’d even take someone with half his skill serving up passes, crosses, free kicks etc.

  5. I have a random down the road type question……since Andre Blake is generation Adidas when we inevitably can’t keep him anymore and he goes to europe does that affect the amount of money we receive for his transfer? Just worried with how much of the league structure is hidden that we would eventually lose our best player and not be compensated for it. Thanks MLS!

    • Well, I don’t know the answer to your question- it’s quite possible MLS doesn’t know either, until they make something up- but if Blake starts and finishes around 20 games this year he’ll no longer be on a GA contract. It’s not really known what causes a player to graduate from GA (thanks MLS!), but looking at past cases it’s probably minutes played. So unless Blake leaves in this summer’s transfer window it probably won’t matter.

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