Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening Statement (The press conference was delayed for 75 minutes because of a pending team announcement)

First off, I’d like to apologize for the delay. Fortunately for you guys, the news at this time is that there is no news.

Rewinding to last night, again, happy with a lot of the guys and how they stepped up in what is always a tough environment, Open Cup games are usually heated contests, and you get to see what your team is made of. I thought a lot of the guys that maybe hadn’t logged a lot of minutes this year had really strong performances for us. I was really happy with the first 79 minutes and then a little loose with our passing and, credit to Harrisburg, they punished us a bit for it. But, [we] showed the sign of a team with a lot of character in that we didn’t panic, we continued to push, and got the third goal. I’d say opposite of maybe the past, you know, a team that has belief that they can get a goal late in games and fights till the end. So, I was happy with that.

Obviously, just saw the draw, I’m sure you all did. Getting Red Bull at home will be, obviously, a tough task. We look forward to that but our focus right now is on New York City FC, a very good team, a dangerous team, one that is looking to turn things around at home, so we’ll have a tough matchup for us and need to do a good job, obviously, on David Villa, he’s playing exceptionally well. That’ll be the focal point of their attack but, again, everybody has to be on the same page and we’ll go on the road and we’ll play the same that we do at home, and look to press, and try to get a result.

Can you tell us anything about the nature of this news that we were expecting?

No.

Player related?

No…I’m not talking about that.

On the performance of players in Wednesday night’s US Open Cup game that hadn ‘t previously gotten much in the way of playing time.

I thought they had good performances. [Walter Restrepo?], obviously not just because he scored, I thought he was busy on the night, he was active, he really pushed things on the wing, and was a handful all night, I would say. I thought Roland, when we got on the ball, he made good choices in possession, did a good job. So, again, two guys who I’ve had faith in before last night’s game, just good for them to get out there and show it. Ilsinho coming back off of injury was impressive, as well, and Herbers, in CJ’s absence, stepped up and did a good job for us. You go through all four guys, they each got one-on-one looks with the goalkeeper and, yeah, it was a good performance from the front four.

On how important it was for the confidence of Walter Restrepo and Roland Alberg to score on Wednesday night.

Yeah, confidence is huge with players, you know, it goes a long way. It gives you belief; they’ve done it in training — it’s one thing to do it day in and day out in training, but to perform on the big stage in Talen Energy Stadium and get goals is great for a player’s confidence. Young, old, it doesn’t matter: When you score goals it makes you feel good, it makes you feel part of the group and, again, I was really happy for them and how they played. They deserved it.

You’ve talked about trying to get another attacking guy on the field. What specifically are you looking for?

Yeah, I think we’re working towards that. You see the pieces that we have and, yeah, you just naturally you’d say a Creavalle is more of a defensively-minded guy, an Ilsinho or an Alberg is more of an attack-minded guy so, yeah, to get — especially in your own building — your goal is to have as many attacking pieces on the field while still feeling secure back there. I think we’ve shown flashes of looking like a team that’s stingy and doesn’t concede but then we’ll have moments like the last ten minutes last night where you kind of second guess it, you know? So, maybe, we’re not quite ready. It’s a process, we’re trying to get things tightened up defensively before we kind of feel comfortable because, you know, listen: attack-minded guys maybe don’t love to do the defensive running — and they shouldn’t because they come to life when they have the ball. And whether you can go with four of those guys out there, six of those guys, that’s something that we are still working towards. I still will say our final and best lineup has not been determined yet; I still think there’s guys fighting for spots, which is good, it’s healthy competition and hopefully, like you said, everybody wants to put as many attacking guys out there as possible.

Injury report

CJ didn’t rain; ankle injury, pretty standard. He’s in good spirits, he’s walking around, he’s able to move, there’s nothing to limit his mobility, at least around the guys in the locker room. Not quite ready to train yet; again, we’re hoping for the weekend as a possibility. But, yeah, he’s…progressing, I would say.

Other than that, Yaro’s shoulder, he trained today with kind of the quarterback, red pinney on. No real contact with him, we’re just telling guys to be cautious around him, at least. And he did a good job, looks good. Looked a lot better playing soccer than just running around the field getting fitness, so he was happy to be back and part of things.

Other than that, fairly healthy. Nothing from last night, so that’s good. Got through the Open Cup with a win and no injuries, no damage.

On Andre Blake returning to training after being away with Jamaica for the Copa America Centenario

Yeah, great, great. He was in good spirits, also. It was really good, we only had about…the majority of the guys who played a lot of minutes last night just did a regen and stayed inside out of the rain. We pushed a group, eight to nine guys and Andre in goal made some really, really good saves and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. If anything, he seems more confident. So, good day, good sharp day. Good to push some of guys a little bit that didn’t play last night and, again, hopefully we’re ready to go against New York City.

What was your takeaway from playing in the small confines of the field at Yankee Stadium last year?

Visually, when you watch the games on film there, you watch on TV, it just looks…something about the camera angle or whatever it is, it looks off, it looks small. When you actually step it out, it is 70 yards wide which is very narrow, it’s the most narrow stadium, but 70 yards does…it actually plays smaller than that, is what I’m getting at. So, you’re never out of a game on that field; it works both ways: the ball seems to always find its way into the box in two or three passes, and you’re defending a lot of second balls, restarts become critical. It’s small, it is really small. I think everybody would have that same opinion. It’s tough to put together a ton of passes, so we’ll need to be able to, at moments in the game, roll up your sleeves, be ready to fight, and challenge for second balls and do your best to get points on the road.

On how NYCFC have been playing

They’re a good team, they’re dangerous, they have a lot of pieces that you have to keep your eye on. They’re getting the kid [Jack] Harrison going a bit now. David Villa, for me, a top…obviously, he is the top goal scorer in the league, but [he’s] really dangerous, works his tail off. [Thomas] McNamara is a handful. Obviously, [Andrea] Pirlo can pick you apart if you give him time. So, a lot of good pieces. They have conceded some goals at home, for sure, so it’ll be important that we start the game well, don’t let them get confidence, and kind of go from there. You don’t want to let them get comfortable, they are a good passing team if you give them time and space, they showed that even when we played here. They can put the ball on the ground and pass and move together. We’ll have to disrupt that, pick balls off and counter, and get our goal.

On Andre Blake, following a good performance at the Copa America, becoming a hot commodity

That’s a good thing. Anytime you get to play in the spotlight that he got to play in, you want him to be at his best. I thought he was, I thought he did a good job for his team. The experience he gets in LA in front of 90,000 — we’ll call it 90,000 Mexican fans and maybe three of four thousand Jamaican fans — you can’t recreate that again, those are big games. He talked about that and you could see it in his face, how exciting that was, and how much he learned from those moments. So, I think he’s coming back even better, which is good for us. Will there be clubs in different parts of the world interested in him? I would think so, he’s a very good goalkeeper, he’s young, and he still has room to even get better, which is scary. So, happy for Andre and the experience that he got. Obviously, he wishes his team performed a little better and got through, but we’re happy to have him back.

More detail on CJ Sapong’s ankle injury

We thought…After the game against Columbus they talked briefly with him before he would go on the break and he was walking around the locker room pretty fine and said it was just a knock, he’ll be fine, he needed to come out of the game. It kind of ballooned up on him and just got really swollen. Now his swelling is down a great deal, still just kind of in that final phase of getting the full strength back in it and the full mobility so, it’s not a long term thing. Obviously, he’s missed; when he’s not in the lineup we’re different, we can’t press quite the same just because he does such a good job running, fighting for balls, and winning those aerial duels. Fabian’s done a great job in a short time in his place but, yeah, hopefully CJ’s not out for too long.

10 Comments

  1. WHAT WAS THE NEWS?!?

    I MUST KNOW.

    I HOPE IT WASNT BAD NEWS>

  2. This just in….. the sun’ll come up tomorrow. betcha bottom dollar that tomorrow…there’ll be sun.
    .
    .
    In other news— I have just folded the laundry… and yet again there are multitudes of socks without partners… back to you Jim.

    • Thanks for the thrilling update on the sock status. Please be sure to communicate any further developments in the sock situation. We wait with bated breath.

  3. anonymous says:

    nogs is leaving

  4. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Horrible miss by Herbers in the 31st minute against Harrisburg City Islanders last night on his one and only attempt on goal all evening long. Nice assist on Alberg’s first goal and all. But I’d really like to see more direct involvement in the attack from the lone central striker against a third division side that has surrendered THE MOST goals in their 14-team Eastern Conference so far this season.

  5. alicat215 says:

    No Nogs!!!!!!!!!! In all seriousness, I hope he is well.

  6. OldSoccer Coach says:

    I have no idea whether Nigueira is leaving.
    .
    I would speculate that if another club is acquiring him, the Union did not know it Wednesday night, because he played over 70 minutes, getting whacked solidly at least once.
    .
    Any such negotiation is three sided, making ignore challenging to create a fast, lastminutedeal, I would think.
    .
    Am I hoping he stays? Does theSun come up in theEast?

  7. Lucky Striker says:

    Sounds like Pong and Josh will also be unavailable.

    Still can’t put a full side together and the year is about half over.

    Ear Knee better figure something out quick.

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