Postgame: Union 2-0 NYCFC

Photo and Video: Daniel Studio

Mike and Kevin’s postgame wrap

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Postgame interviews with  Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta and Chris Pontius

Patrick Vieira’s postgame press conference

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Jim Curtin

Opening Statement

Before I get started on the game I think that there is something’s bigger than wins and losses, and it’s a tough week for the Sons of Ben with the anniversary of the passing of Eric Shertz. You know, the term family gets thrown around a little loosely these days in sports, we hear it all the time, but he was a big part of the Union family. You know whether you watch games at Stoney’s Pub in Delaware, The 700, down in my neighborhood at O’Neil’s on 3rd Street, we’re all in this together — as fans, as a team — and it’s always difficult when you lose a member. So I just wanted to say that the guys had a little more, a little something extra today, I thought, on a night that wasn’t our best performance; important to reflect on that.

Was defending the midfield or closing down space in front of the defense what you planned for?

I think first and foremost we expected [Andrea] Pirlo, so that’s how we prepared. The idea was to high press; we’re going to try and be a team who presses home and away. We thought it would be Pirlo in there, a little bit of a surprise with a couple changes — they do have a Wednesday midweek game — but, at the same time, our approach was to put pressure on them, from minute one to minute 90. I think we did a good job of that. New York was sharp on the day, though, they were good with the ball. They gave us some trouble, especially in the first half, getting in behind, and the kid (Federico) Bravo, he’s a very good player and, I thought, had a good performance for them.

I’m not happy with our overall game on the day, but, at the same time, good teams find ways to win when it is not their best night. I give the guys a heck of a lot of credit for keeping the clean sheet at home. Very good performances from some young guys on the field. Guys that came in off the bench impacted the game in a positive way, so, happy from that regard.

On Josh Yaro’s performance

I thought today was better than Seattle. So, again, as a player that’s what you want, you want growth each day. David Villa is a world-class player that he has to deal with. There were a couple moments in the first half where David Villa got in-between Brian (Carroll) and Yaro — when do you step, when do you drop? I thought he handled that pretty well for a young kid. Again, I’ve told you guys, physically there is no question, right? So, his speed, his ability to be strong; he has a very strong upper body though his legs are skinny (laughs), he’s pretty sturdy up there, so he’ll be fine physically. The things you can’t recreate, I can’t recreate in training, no matter what, the situations that you see in the game, when it’s 90 minutes, when it’s against Clint Dempsey, or when it’s against David Villa — I can try all I want but until you go through it it’s the only way to learn. He’s stepped up and done a great job, but, it needs to be said, the guys around him are doing a good job, too. I think it’s a nice warm blanket back there when you have Andre Blake behind you to come out on crosses and be speaking and communicating. So, it’s a team effort, but Josh individually had a good performance. I think it was a step-up from Seattle; I thought his passing was excellent, he read the game well, and did a good job.

On talk that CJ Sapong deserves a national team callup

Yeah, I mean, bloggers are great, they can write and say anything without any accountability sometimes, but, no, he’s a great player. I mean, listen, CJ, Earnie, and I had individual meetings with all our players and he should aspire to play for the national team because he’s that talented. I’m not a coach who…I don’t really believe in me talking about what Jurgen Klinsmann should do. So, is CJ a great striker? Yes, he is, he’s a great No. 9, he’s a good target. The plays he makes to hold the ball up are as good as anyone in our league right now, and he has a knack for getting on the end of crosses. Is he perfect and clinical in front of goal? No. He’s working on it every day, though, he’s getting better. I can see it in training each and every day. He’s in a good way right now, he’s a free thinker, I would say that. So, he’s in his own planet maybe? Is that a good…he’s from the planet Lovetron, maybe? [Laughing] I don’t know where he’s from, but again, when he’s clicking and fighting for us he gives us everything that he has. I will always go to bat for him, but for me to speak about the national team I don’t think is appropriate. But, a darn good player, playing very well, playing at his highest level, and scoring goals in our league.

On Tranquillo Barnetta’s performance

It was good, I thought it was a solid performance. Again, could he be sharper with the ball? Does he have the explosiveness and the enegine to do it for 90 yet? Not quite, but nobody, it’s not possible until you get out there in real MLS games and live action, that’s the best way to get yourself going. I thought it was a solid performance from him, I thought he did well on the goal to set it up, very good. He’s a special player, he’s one of our top players, for sure, and it’s good.

It’s tough for me to sit up here because we haven’t had our full selection of team yet, I don’t think we’ve fielded our best lineup yet. Guys are getting great experience. though, so this helps, we’re deep. Earnie said it from the start, we are going to be a team that’s two deep, and it’s come. We’ve had to use it a heck of a lot already, whether it’s red cards, injuries, or different things, and guys have really risen and stepped up. So, players need to be commended for that, they’ve done a good job and Tranquillo, again, waiting and getting fit, it was good for him to get his first start out there.

What did you think of Chris Pontius and how is his face?

Yeah, that was a hockey cut, you know, it was a good size gash. Of course, as a coach, you want it to be an instant thing where he’s right back out on the field. New York, if you remember, they were coming at us pretty good at that time. So, he went on once, came back off, ’cause they couldn’t get the blood stopped. So, as a coach, it’s frustrating because you don’t want to take a good player off the field like Pontius. But, at the same time, if it was going to be something where he is in, he’s out, he’s in, he’s out, we were really contemplating making a move. So, Pauley (Paul Rushing), our trainer, and I had some nice words back and forth to speed it up, but he did a good job of getting him going, and I am happy for Chris to get a goal, I thought he worked hard on the day.

Again, wasn’t our best day of soccer, but a sign of a good team that we got a win on a day when we weren’t our best.

Does C.J. exemplify what you mean by wanting your players to get better and better?

Of course, I would have to agree with everything you said. I think players, they’re not naive. When they see in the offseason, and we sit with them and we tell them you’re our guy, and we don’t bring in another guy at maybe a higher salary, we believe in them. I think that as a player he really appreciates that, he appreciates that from me, he appreciates with Earnie, and it’s a good thing and he is in a good way right now. Again, when he’s feeling good and smiling every day and putting the work in, he’s tough to stop. As a center back you do not want to play against CJ. He’s a pain in the butt to play against, he holds the ball very well and he is in a good spot right now. But, I do think there’s something to the fact that we were happy with him,and we think he can be the guy who gets the 15 goals, the 20, whatever it is. We won’t set benchmarks like he did [laughs], but we think he can score goals, all right, and I think we’re a team that’s going to get him service, and that is what he needs. And I do think that there’s something to the fact that he knows we believe in him and I think as a player there is nothing stronger than that, knowing that you have a staff and a coach that is happy with you being the guy.

On becoming the coach with the most wins in Union history

Yeah, individual awards aren’t for the regular season, so I am not too into that, not just for me but even for our players. — Team of the Week and Save of the Week, and all that stuff that they mess up every week, anyway. So, I want to get better as a coach myself, I want to get our players better, I want them to play at the highest level they possibly can play at. At the end of the year when individual accolades come, usually they are to teams that win, you know, I think that’s the natural way it goes. Everybody gets credit when we win as a team. So, if we are able to sustain what we’ve done through, again, only seven games, if we are able to sustain it during the course of 34, you’ll see our guys in the All-Star game, in the Best XI, whatever it might be. But, we’re not there yet, and it’s premature to talk that way. But, again, it’s a good start to the year; we knew it was important to have a good start. We’ve had a lot of positive changes in the organization and now you’re seeing the results justify and give a belief to the players. They’ve really bought in and they deserve a lot of the credit

On how the team’s improved since the Dallas game

Yeah, [Khiry] Shelton and [Steven] Mendoza gave us fits in the first half. It was actually in some ways similar to the Dallas first half when you have two speedy wingers. I think we got caught trying to get a little bit too tight to them and they were able to 1-2. They have speed, I said at halftime to Fabinho, “Shelton is faster than you, that’s not changing.” Keegan [Rosenberry], “Mendoza is faster than you, but there’s ways you can play it and not be so over aggressive and fly over the line, and just play it in a different way.” So, I think we adjusted in the second half a little bit. I thought Ray [Gaddis] came in a did a very good job on Shelton; Ray can run with Shelton, so there’s a difference there. But overall, yeah, they’re a good team, they have good wide players, and two young kids who gave us a fit in the first half. But, at the same time, we did a good job of sticking together through the tough moments, hanging on and getting a good 2-0 win at home and sending a packed house of fans home happy.

Josh Yaro

On getting his second start

Yeah, it was a good feeling. Every day you train and it’s been my dream to play and make a debut for the Union so when that finally happened I was grateful and I was happy. And I’m fortunate to be in this position to play for a great club like the Union.

Just learning a lot each week?

Yeah, just taking it week by week. Working and getting better every time because I’m not perfect yet there’s always room for improvement.

Tell us about defending these guys today – they had a lot of possession but they only had one shot goal. What was the approach?

I think for us the big thing was staying together as a unit, because when the team plays together like that as a unit it’s really hard to break the defense down. I think we did our duty collectively. Sticking together even when things were not going right and I think that’s what played to our advantage today.

Andre Blake

On facing David Villa

He’s a smart guy, you know? I just know as a goalkeeper every time he is on the ball to expect the unexpected and that’s exactly what I did today.

On getting his second shutout of the season

It feels great. As I always said before, winning is more important than the shutout. Of course I’m happy with it, but I’m even more happy with the victory.”

On what getting the clean sheet means

It’s great. I mean. it wasn’t a busy day but I’ll take it just to be back there making sure everything is okay. I’ll take it all day.

Ray Gaddis

On getting his first minutes of the season

I enjoy the game, I love the game, and so it was a great blessing. It can happen at any time, but being a professional you have to stay ready so you have to get ready. That’s something my dad always told me. And when your number is called, you have to step up and play. It’s a long season and we’re all here together as a team.

It looked like Khiry Shelton took one or two runs at you early and you were able to fend them off.

I wouldn’t even say anything against Shelton – but we have great players on our team. We have Chris Pontius, we have Eric Ayuk, and we have Tranquillo Barnetta running at me every week. So how you practice how you play. I’ve played a lot of games in the MLS and our guys in the locker room keep me ready – and like I said, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Stay ready, get your opportunities, and continue to take them. I’m grateful from God to have an opportunity.

Tranquillo Barnetta

On first start of the season

I mean I’m happy that I’m back and was a little bit unlucky with my injury in the preseason, but yeah I tried to work hard on my physical to come back. Had a couple of substitutions to come in, and now first start – it’s great to be back.

On the team being out-possessed but still being in control

I mean. for sure we try to always have possession, but sometimes you play against a good team and they try always to build up from the back, so it was hard to have a lot of possession. We know that we can do a better job with the ball, but still, big teams find a way to win a game like this – and that we did tonight, but we can’t be lazy now. We have to go on and analyze the things. It wasn’t that good tonight that we can do a better job with, especially with the ball. At the end these three points count and what’s really important is the clean sheet. If we don’t allow goals at home, you can’t lose, and that’s the most important thing.

CJ Sapong

So you kind of got a hockey goal with the ricochet off Sebastien Le Toux’s shot. What were you seeing when that shot originally came in?

I mean it was kind of similar to the goal Seba had in Seattle. I figured the way it was coming back to him I was being in a good spot if he does mis-hit it, and that’s all I tried doing. He ended up hitting it right to me. Definitely those are the goals that I like scoring because my alertness is rewarded so I’m happy about that.

It seemed like today you guys didn’t have the possession but still controlled things. What’s it like when you guys don’t have the possession and trying to snuff out a game like this?

It’s something we aren’t used to, for sure, but I think we responded well. In that moment, the thing that matters most is everybody putting in the effort and competing from minute one to 90-plus. I feel like if we keep doing that we’ll find ourselves in a position to get a lot of points.

In smaller periods, like that first half, you guys had a few chances and were able to capitalize on them. Is that a big part of it – when you have those big opportunities, putting them away like you and Chris did?

Yeah, for sure. I think that’s something we noticed in the last couple of games is that we have opportunities early on that we don’t really finish or execute on. Scoring early and taking advantage of those opportunities is good, but now we need to put it both together. Sometimes we end up coming late in the game and putting goals in and killing it off, but we now need to be able to match those efforts and put them together to make it a full 90-minute performance.

You earned a couple free kicks further away from goal, and Tranquillo ended up making a few chances (for you) that way. Is that something you noticed in the NYC defense and tried to take advantage of early?

Historically, it’s always been a physical matchup with them and I have usually found myself in positions to just create things. When you’re playing against guys you’ve played against before, I know in their head they know it is going to be a physical battle as well, so it’s trying to use that to my advantage as much as possible. I got a couple ones that I still thought I could get a lot more, but I think it’s something I have set up for myself now. Being a guy that is physical and plays through a lot, sometimes I guess it also works against me.

Some people on Twitter and MLS media types that are starting to talk about you and the USMNT picture – what are your thoughts on that and what it could mean for the summer?

I mean that’s how it goes. Everybody needs the next thing to talk about or the next thing to hype up, and for me I know in the past whenever I paid attention to things like that they took my focus away from what’s really important. So just let those people say whatever they feel, and I’m just playing my game for the Philadelphia Union right now.

New York City FC postgame quotes

Patrick Vieira

Thoughts on the performance

Frustrated, frustrated, disappointed and a lot of anger, because I believe we should go back to New York with something. Because of the way we played and we don’t concede goal, we give goals away. And we create chances, we create opportunities and we didn’t take it.

On tactics

I believe that we really respect our game plan, I believe that we create enough chances, and the only problem is that we don’t put them in the back of the net.

On if Pirlo being out affects the game plan

Andrea was not here today, he may get in on Wednesday but to be honest I was really pleased and happy with the way that Tommy, Mikey, Bravo, and Poku played. I was really pleased with my midfield.

On Pirlo’s absence

It’s my decision.

On the reason for the change

I was really just choosing the best team to try to win football matches. Regarding the team we are going to play against, and how we can hurt them, and how we can defend regarding their strength

On if the team deserved points

Of course, of course, of course we deserve to take something back.

On why points were deserved in spite of making mistakes

Yes it’s a mistake that we shouldn’t make at this level but we created more than we concede, much, much more. That’s why there is a lot of frustration and anger because we should take something back home because of the number of chances that we create, regarding the number of chances that we concede. I think when you analyze the game, you can see that we control the game, and I think that we were by far the better team today.

I personally believe that we dominate the game, I personally believe that we create enough chances to score the goals. I think we weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal, in the last 20-30 yards, to put the ball in the back of the net. Yes, we gave these two goals away, Philly didn’t create them, we give it to them. I believe if our luck of ruthless in the last 30 yards and this is a part of the game that we really need to improve.

RJ Allen

On the match

I think we could have did better in certain points of the match. In the first half in particular, we created a lot of chances, but at the end we didn’t score goals and conceded two and that’s not acceptable.

On getting back on the pitch

It was good, obviously I was out for quite a long time but it’s great to be back in the team for the past two matches. Looking forward to the next couple of games in the coming days.

Andoni Iraola

On the match

There was a certain match I think that is different match than the last one. They played long balls to the forwards, through balls. We didn’t defend well to start the game, then I think we played well, we had chances. But we didn’t score them.

On the next few games

Obviously we played last two on road, and we have two losses so we have to get home this week. I think it’s good for us, obviously when you lose you want to play as soon as possible and obviously we have two difficult games. They are good teams but we have to win.


  1. CJ is from Lovetron!?! How’d I miss that?!?

  2. Viera was quite adamant his team deserved something from that game. I’m not sure what he saw that the rest of us missed (but then again he’s a world class midfielder, I’ll let his game knowledge trump mine). Big takeaway for me was that, in limited chances, we still scored goals. Much more composed and clinical in front of net than usual. Hoping we can string together results now.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Apparently, when you have players like David Villa you deserve points just for showing up at the game on time.

  3. 700Chopper says:

    700 FC rules and go Union

  4. The visitors did generate more chances and were a crossbar away from first blood. Falling behind early to a lesser opponent (sans Pirlo) might have been a problem. Viera has a point (pun). As the first comment in the match recap said, this Union are finally in more games to the last whistle – just like the league wants it. And winning their share. Enjoy and so long Cliff of Despair.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      In a system that determines a champion through playoffs, only one team can dynamite its cliff of despair into gravel.

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