Press Conference

Transcript: Jim Curtin’s teleconference before Union at Rapids

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement

Happy with the group. I think we’ve established we are a true team. There’s no superstar with our group, there’s no egos. We’ve gone through some tough things with Maurice Edu going down, other guys stepping up; Ilsinho going down, other guys stepping. Recently, Vincent Nogueira going down and other midfielders just stepping up and doing a great job,not missing a beat. I think we’ve contributed in a lot of different ways; recently it’s been with defenders scoring goals.

So, again, I’d stress that we are a true team, a true group that has belief right now. I think we’ve been pretty relentless defensively, aggressive going forward [and] we’ve shown a lot of character and adversity with the referees, and road games, different things like that. I love this group of players and I enjoy watching them compete right now, it’s fun to watch.

We have a big one, obviously, coming up with Colorado, a very strong team at the top of the league. I think our fitness, all of the work we did in preseason in the weight room, will pay off on a long trip like this. All the guys feel strong, they feel good, they’re ready to turn it around quickly and go at it again in altitude.

On Andre Blake’s progression

I think for the Philadelphia Union, Andre’s been excellent, he’s been a huge part of our success. Specifically, I thought, the PK that was called against him with Kaka – you know, obviously it being Kaka – he was going to get the benefit of the doubt there. Stepped up, makes a big save. I thought Andre was fouled by Larin on the second goal, but Andre would be honest with you and say he could probably punch that away a little better — he’s tough on himself, too. He’s had a lot of good performances for us. He keeps us in games, does a great job.

Leading to the Copa America now, yeah, it’s a big competition in his development. There’s going to be a heck of a lot of eyes there from an international standpoint, a lot of scouts. He’s shown very well in our league, now he’s going to do it on the international stage for Jamaica against some top competition, and I wish him all of the best there. I think it’s safe to say at this point when you’re a third of the way through you can start to say he’s in the top goalkeepers in our league right now; in terms of 2016, he has been a top goalkeeper in our league. You see the All-Star voting starts to come out now and I hope he gets rewarded in that regard.

On Orlando’s controversial second goal

We’ll never know. We’ll never truly know. The one thing you could say is we have the video of where the refs are. I think they got a little caught up in the crowd and the reaction; they’re certainly not in position to say one way or the other, which is what they need to say to award a goal with 100-percent clarity. The ball was in the air, Fabi gets there. Leading up to the goal, I’d argue Kaka gets away with a two-handed push on Keegan [Rosenberry] out wide, comes across to Larin, who handballs it into the goal – literally with his arm — which is another view that we have from behind the goal from a fan’s point of view. They have a video where it clearly shows Larin putting it in with his arm. So, a lot of little things that went against us, but a credit to our group for going through some tough adversity there, not only dealing with the crowd, but also the officials in getting that second goal to get a point when we should have got all three.

On the goalkeeping status as Blake leaves for Copa America

Well, first and foremost with Matt [Jones], Matt unfortunately had to leave our team — not unfortunately, it’s fortunate [laughs]. He left yesterday morning. His first son was born – Jackson — so shout out to Jackson [laughs]. I think he was a pretty big boy; it sounds like nine pounds. So, Matt had to leave, but he was able to make it back in time. Our staff did a great job of getting him back to be there for the birth of his first son, so he is currently not with the team. But, at the same time, there’s things that are a lot bigger than soccer, and I’m a firm believer in family first. Obviously, I wanted Matt to be there with his family, with his wife, and experience the birth of [his] first child, which is special.

So, Matt isn’t with us right now. Obviously, Johnny [McCarthy] will be the backup against Colorado. We still have a big decision to make for the Columbus game, has not been 100-percent determined yet. I’ll lean heavily on Oka Nikolov for that choice.

On Josh Yaro’s injury

He had his shoulder dislocated before. It was his other shoulder, though, previously. I believe at Georgetown, it happened to him. He can’t really even give an answer as to whether it did pop out or not, he said it felt like it popped out. Our staff did not have to put it back in, so it seems like it went back in quickly. He tried to play through it and had a collision with Larin immediately after and the pain was just too much. I talked to him this morning, he sounds like it’s sore and it hurts, but it’s not something that will prevent him playing. We have training in about an hour [and] we’ll go out and assess where he’s at exactly, physically. But, it’s a shame, he was playing a great game. Again, though, credit to our depth at center back. Ken Tribbett comes in and really contributes and does a good job. Josh has been excellent, though, so hopefully it is not too serious with the shoulder.

Are you viewing the Colorado game as a litmus test or just another road game?

No, I mean, the table doesn’t lie. Pablo’s [Mastroeni] done a heck of a job with his team, putting them in first. A young coach that I’m close with and I think, in a lot of ways, we’ve gone through a lot of similar things, you know, you learn a lot in your first year of coaching. I think we both made some upgrades to our staff and got some real support from our front offices, and we’ve improved, and we’ve done a decent job a third of the way through the year. And, yeah, it’s a game early on in the season in May, so you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself but it’s first place in the East versus first place in the West, so, yeah, there’s a little something more there. We’re both in decent form. They’re very good at home, so it will be a real challenge for our guys. Yeah, it’s fair to say it’s not just another game, that’s for sure. You look at the table and you want to test yourself against a top team, and they’re the top team in the league right now.

On playing the Rapids without Jermaine Jones and Shkëlzen Gashi

I think it helps us, for sure. Jermaine is a, he’s a winner. Anywhere he goes, he wins soccer games, and he’s a driving force for the way they press and the way they get after you and compete, and fight, and grind out wins. A lot of their wins are 1-0, 2-1; they play in tight games and the do a great job defensively, and I think Jermaine’s been their leader so for him not to be there is fortunate for us, to be honest.

Gashi, as well, is one of these guys that flies under the radar. He’s incredible for his national team with Albania, a very underrated national team. You watch them play and, talk about a good group of players, they are very strong. So, for him not to be there, is good, too. He strikes the ball – if you watch the tape and watch them play– harder and more accurate than anyone in the league right now, he’s got a heck of a left foot on him, he smacks the ball pretty hard. And he’s an intelligent player. So, fortunate that they’re missing guys, for sure. You know, we’re missing a couple, too, but, at the same time, it’ll be…I think they have a deep team, I think they have all bought into Pablo and the way he’s gone about his business. So it’s going to be a challenging game. They’re relentless getting after you with their pressure – home and away. So, it’s two teams that like to high press and it’s going to be the team that takes their chances in the 18. I do not think there are going to be a lot of chances in this game, so whoever is most clinical in the box will come away with points in this one.

On squad rotation – do you think you’ll be making a lot of changes?

Like I said, we’re in good shape. The term “squad-rotation,” I think that’s the new buzz word and I think it starts in Europe where they have, we’ll just say, a lot more financial resources at their [laughs] expense to build incredibly deep rosters. It’s not as easy to rotate in our league, just because of the salary cap preventions. We do think we have a deep team; we’ll put the team that’s most fit and ready to go out there. We’re not…I don’t use the word rest — we’re not resting anybody — you can’t rest guys in game 12 or 13 of the season. So, we have some decisions to make. I think our fitness and our work has been put in. I don’t expect to see 10 new bodies out there and we’re just going to be fine. We have a good thing going on right now, we have guys believing, we have guys that physically feel good, and feel strong. So, two big games coming before the Copa America break and we are going to shoot to win both of them.

On Ilsinho’s injury status

Ilsinho’s good. Gaining fitness, he’ll be available for selection this weekend. How long he can go is still up in the air. Do you want to start him in a first game in altitude when he hasn’t been in a match in a while? It’s a tough decision to make. I’m tempted because he is that talented, but he’ll be available for selection. He’s made some good strides moving forward and, again, I feel like I say it a lot to you guys: Once we get him going a 100 percent, and he gets a run of games, he is going to do some damage.

On Roland Alberg

It comes down to positional right now. Tranquillo’s playing very well at the 10 at the moment. Roland in a way he is playing in training, he plays more like a 10. We are coaching them both up to try to get them on the field at the same time, that’s something we’re working towards. He’s putting in a ton of effort in, trying to get more and more fit, get used to all the running; he’s improved greatly in that, and his reactions defensively. He’s just kind of been the odd man out. He’s frustrated, obviously, because he wants to play, he’s a good professional, [and] with the limited minutes he’s got this year, he’s contributed. But, yeah, it’s just a tough one positionally right now. We think we need a little more defense first, so we’ve gone with [Warren] Creavalle in there. And Quillo’s form has kept Roland from getting his opportunity. But it’s a long year, we have a lot of games coming up, and I think Roland is one of our most talented players, and he’ll play a role in the very near future. It’s not a performance thing, it’s just the guy in front of him right now is performing a little bit better. So, good depth, good option to have, and just unfortunately the way the games have gone on the road, at home, there just hasn’t been a moment to get him in there. He’ll get his opportunity, though.

Where do you see him playing? Can he line up outside?

We’re working toward that. I see him as a central player; I don’t see him as a winger. He could probably do it in a pinch, he could probably play as a false 9 in a pinch, too, just because he’s so talented but, unfortunately, I see him in the center of the field and we’re working towards getting a more attack minded lineup on the field, but I don’t think we’re quite ready in all areas to roll that out.

On Vincent Nogueira’s injury status

He’s been running. He’s supposed to train today with us. It’ll be his first day back and, obviously, we’re better with the ball when Vincent is on the field, he’s great in possession. Warren did a heck of a job, though, putting out fires, and running and covering, and breaking up things. So, they both bring different things to the table. I think it’ll be close for Vincent for this weekend; certainly Wednesday would be a hope, as well. But he’s moving along, getting better, [but] still has a little soreness. It’s a matter of whether he can play through it or not, and we’ll make a decision probably after today’s training on where he’s at.

Do you think Nogueira gets the respect he deserves from around the league with All-Star voting opening?

Talent wise, I think he is in the top tier of midfielders in our league. He has had a strong year. It’s been a little stop start with little injuries here and there, so that’s challenging. Usually those awards go to guys that are on the field the whole time but he might get a little knock for that, but he certainly is among the most talented midfielders. It’s harder and harder to make the All-Star team now, though, because they have so many of the DPs that are just going to be given the position. He’s most happy when our team wins so I think his motivation is for the team to have success first. And, I think if our team keep winning games, and keeps getting results, you’ll start to see some of our guys get named to the All-Star team, which is a great reward. Maybe not the starting All-Star team, but when the players and the coaches vote for that second tier of guys that also get rewarded, that sometimes is more valued, I’ll just say, because it’s done by your peers. So, he can get maybe rewarded in that regard.

7 Comments

  1. el Pachyderm says:

    tough tough time for Yaro to get hurt…. now we will have a CB controversy, which is 100% better than the budding QB controversy. #tohellwiththeNFL.
    .
    .
    NFLfootball it just________________ BLOWS!!!!

  2. James Lockerbie says:

    Nice!

  3. I appreciate hearing about Alberg. A lot of us have been going on for a while asking about his status. Curtin sounds hopeful.

  4. philpill says:

    Sounds like JC is not making lineup changes. Injuries can follow playing tired. Hope not.

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