Postgame video and quotes: Union 0-0 Crystal Palace

Photo and video: Daniel Studio

Note: Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference transcribed by PSP. All other quotes provided. Questions have been paraphrased

Jim Curtin’s Postgame press conference

Opening statement

I thought it was a great exercise for our guys. You think about your preparation now for Red Bull, and the way that Crystal Palace pressed and pushed us in the first and second half was very good. I was happy with the way my guys played: calm on the ball, comfortable, played the same way. Was most proud that the first half group and the second half group looked the exact same, which was good, it shows that we have depth. Great opportunity for Derrick Jones to get some live action with the first team, I thought he performed very well. You could go through the list and I think a lot of guys checked a lot of positive boxes. Good in terms of fitness.

Midweek now, looking ahead to Sunday, the big Red Bull game, we know this place will be packed and sold out and we’re excited. I thought, despite the 0-0 score line, I think there still was some good soccer in the game, there was some good chances; always happy to keep a clean sheet.

Again, a great exercise for us and thank you to Crystal Palace and Alan [Pardew] for bringing their team here, great opportunity for our guys to learn. And, again, the game, there’s always levels that it gets ramped up, and they’re in an early stage of their preseason fitness but, still, you could see the quality that they have and it was great for our guys to see it live.

On impression of second half performances

Yeah, I think we started the second half, the first 15 minutes was excellent, really pressed well together, I thought Cole [Missimo] got on the ball and went 1 vs. 1 a couple times and you saw some of the quality that he brings. Derrick [Jones] made a great through-ball, so it’s good for our No. 8. We look for him to play penetrating balls and Derrick did that twice in the game that led to chances; on a different night, maybe we think to shoot first instead of pass, but overall I thought I was really happy with the guys. Some of them haven’t gotten a lot of minutes this year, but they bring it every day in training and they’re the reason why some of the starters are having a successful year because we are a team. Again, I thought Ray Gaddis was excellent 1 vs. 1 against Zaha – one of the top players in England — 1 vs. 1, a handful, and Ray did a great job shutting him down. Great to see. A lot of guys performed well. I was really happy, especially with the first 15-20 minutes of the half. I think after that they made some changes, too, and it was a little disjointed for both teams for a little there. Again, they were the pushing to gain fitness; so were our guys in some ways, some of the guys that were out there, that’s a fast pace for them. You can and recreate it in practice, but to get actions like that in a game is very valuable for young players, and for old players, that are looking to gain fitness.

What players did you think stood out for the fans

From us or from them?

For you

For our team, for the Philadelphia Union? Fans can like whoever they want, that’s the great thing about our game, you know, fans get to choose what grabs their eyes. Some people have an educated eye for how a defender will defend and they might like Richie Marquez, or they might like the fact that Ken Tribbett is a great passer out of the back, or Josh Yaro is fast. You can go through the list — I think we have a lot of likeable players but that’s not really for me to decide. Ilsinho is the kind of guy, I guess, that would probably get the oohs and the ahhs. To not have him tonight, obviously, we have an eye on Red Bull and we thought with him, Barnetta, and Pontius — three very strong players for us and starters for us — it was best to push them in a different way on the fitness side, before the game and not have them play minutes.

But, you know, we do have a lot likeable players. Again, a sexy name might not be there but these guys fight for each other, they play a style that is emblematic of this city. It’s one that everyone should get on board with and embrace, and we know we have to build some equity with our fan base. It’s a fact because we haven’t been great for six years and now we are starting to get some of that. And, it’s a fight everyday. So, again, you can talk about individuals and players, but we’re a team., and this city’s usually pretty good about getting on board with a team, and we have a good one.

On the experience players get playing European opposition

You always — as a pro athlete, as a coach, as a player, as a training staff — everybody wants to test them against the top, right? So, England is one of the top leagues, for sure; the players on the field for them are top players, not just because their salaries are so big, but also because they’re talented. Again, they’re at a different phase of their season. They’re gaining fitness so they’ll look a lot different once their season kicks off.

So, again, it’s great for young players, and old players, to test yourself against the best, that’s where you measure yourselves. You play the respect of your teammates and, obviously, you want to leave a mark. And I’m sure a lot of the Crystal Palace players will say they have good players, too, they have really good players that compete, that play soccer the right way, that pass, that get the ball on the ground, it’s not just physical and kicking and fighting. We have a good group that plays soccer the right way [and] I thought it was two good team that pressed each other; kind of canceled each other out in some ways, but great exercise.

Yeah, Andre is going to be our starting goalkeeper, that’s safe. That’s safe to say. There is no question about that. It’s clear, Oka Nikolov does a heck of a job with our goalkeepers. All three are very good, John played great tonight, I thought Matt played excellent as well. Made some big saves for us. But Andre is the guy, that’s my least controversial decision, come on man.

On what you said to the second half subs at halftime, particularly Cole Missimo, Taylor Washington, and Derrick Jones

I called them all together before they started the second half, and I said, “Listen, the first group treated the game the right way.” Because these games, you don’t take them lightly but you can go into a tackle halfway, and that’s when you get embarrassed or injured, which is worse. So, you have to go into things full speed because they’re not going to take it easy on you. Stick together;  obviously, enjoy the moment but, at the same time, know that this is ramped up a bit, higher than you probably, some of you, have ever seen. So, they stepped up, they did a great job.

You go through: Cole was great 1 vs. 1, he got to the end line a couple times, cut back some balls. Taylor did a good job defending; got isolated a few times in difficult situations and did great. Derrick was excellent on the night; I think all around, [he] wasn’t nervous, was comfortable receiving balls and you just tell a kid like Derrick to enjoy the moment, you know: have fun, play with a smile on your face, you’re for a reason — we believe in you. And he left a good impression on our whole staff.

So, positive night, really happy with the guys’ overall performance, and it’s good momentum and confidence for guys going into Red Bull. Leo Fernandes also: Again, I don’t want to forget anybody, but Leo played a great game, as well, for 90 minutes, closing the ball defensively. Yeah, could he make a couple better decisions sometimes on the ball? Absolutely. But over the course of 90, he had a very strong game for us at the 8 and the 10 spot, so really happy with that, too.

When Derrick Jones makes the jump to the first team, do you see him staying at the No. 8 spot?

Derrick will decide that. Again, there’s no guarantees because you play a good 45 minutes with us, we have an eye on the longevity and on the future. We like Derrick a lot, Derrick has performed well. But to say when he plays for the first team is premature. He did well tonight, you see quality that is there; you think of a Tony Tchani is a guy who he reminds me off, and Derrick’s actually faster. So, again, that’s what we want, that’s what we want to push him to be. Could he even be better? Absolutely, and that’s up to us a coaching staff, to continue to develop him and to work with him each and every day of having his head on a swivel. When he does make a mistake, we don’t care about that, we care about [his] reaction after [that] to win the ball back immediately. [He’s] still young and has lapses of that, but to do it against Crystal Palace was a darn good first step, and I think Derrick is trending in the right direction. Is he there yet, is he the complete package? He’s not, and I’ll tell that to him and we have discussions all of the time. But, he’s a good young player and we want to continue to develop good young players here in Philadelphia. He’s on his way, but I don’t want to concede that he’s made it by any stretch because we like to push our guys harder. He played a good 45 minutes. There’s 90, and then there’s the season, and there’s another season, and another, and then maybe you start to talk about being a good player and making it. So, a long way to go, but positive.

Do the performances of John McCarthy and Matt Jones in goal tonight lean you one way with three games next week or does Andre Blake start in all three?

You’re asking me if Andre’s going to be my starter? Against Red Bull?!? Yeah, Andre is going to be our starting goalkeeper, that’s safe, that’s safe to say: Andre’s our starter, there is no question about that, it’s clear. Oka Nikolov does a heck of a job with our goalkeepers. All three are very good. John played great tonight; I thought Matt played excellent as well, made some big saves for us. But, yeah, Andre is the guy. That’s my least controversial decision, come on man [laughs].

On Richie Marquez and Ken Tribbett playing in opposite center back spots than they would typically play

With that one we wanted to see…And, again, we have a great opportunity on a night like tonight to see it for the first time. We’ve had different combinations for different reasons: injuries, guys in different form. But to see Fabi, Keegan, Ken, and Yaro together, that was the first time we got to see it. And you think about their skillset, in our mind, with the ball, that’s four guys that all want the ball, that can all really pass, so we wanted to take a look at it. They did a good job, it was good to see, you could see us comfortable, building out of the back. It was the first opportunity we had to see it, so we wanted to do it. I talked with Richie — again, there’s no controversy, Richie is a starting center back for the Union, that’s not changing. But, we wanted to take a look at it, and what better opportunity [than] against a pretty darn good front group of guys [in] Crystal Palace. These games are great for that and, yeah, that was reason and the thinking there. Yeah, Richie, I’m very high on Richie, as well.

Postgame remarks from Derrick Jones, Cole Missimo, John McCarthy and Ray Gaddis

Ray Gaddis

On his matchup with Wilfried Zaha

It was a good challenge for me, especially as a defender. I want to thank Richie Marquez – playing center back — and I want to think Matt Jones. Especially on my side of the field. As you guys saw, it was a complete team effort, first and foremost.

Anytime you can make a player like Zaha switch sides, I think I did my job tonight. It was a good battle. It was a good test for me. I’m thankful that we came out with the result we did, but it was a great team performance. Leo Fernandes had a great performance – the whole team did. So, it was good. I am just one piece of the puzzle. I always tell myself, ‘Do your job the best you can do it and everybody else will take care of themselves.’ It makes one great result for the team.

On his advice to Derrick Jones on his call-up for the match

Derrick is like a little brother to me. I’ve known him growing through the academy. As I’ve been here for five years with Philadelphia Union, I’ve known some of the academy players quite well. I go watch them and support them just like they support us at our games. The advice I just had to him was that I’ve seen him enough, you’re good enough to play, just have fun and play simple. When you play simple everything comes easy. As you guys saw he played simple. He completed a lot of passes. He turned well in the midfield and I’m very proud of Derrick.

On his foot race battle with Zaha

It was a foot race between me and him. I felt like I was fast enough, faster than anybody on the field. It’s a testament to a lot of things, just being ready and staying poised. As soon I kind of saw him make a move, I just spinned on him and completed a pass to Cole (Missimo). It was good. It’s good to always test yourself, especially against a top flight team in the Premiership.

Derrick Jones

On his performance

I think I did OK. I’m really excited I got the chance to play in front of the Philly fans, so I’m happy.

On his mentality ahead of the match

Before the game, I was nervous. But when I got on the field, my teammates motivated me, so that kept me going.

Cole Missimo

On his move around Connor Wickham

Well I was a little worried because I think it was Ray [Gaddis] that played it down the line to me and I wasn’t sure what else to do with it because I don’t think I could’ve gone backwards so I just hoped and made a play around him. I guess I got kind of lucky and got by him, so pretty cool moment.

On this match being a significant career moment

Absolutely – probably the biggest moment of my career, to be honest. It was a dream come true. It’s what I’ve been working toward my whole life, so whether it’s an MLS game or an exhibition game, it doesn’t matter. It was truly a special moment.

On if there was a moment the game seemed ‘normal’

Yeah, my adrenaline was really flowing. I don’t know if I have ever had that big of an adrenaline rush at the beginning there. Yeah, after I got settled down 10 minutes in, I realized that these guys are just players as well, I got settled in down there and it was good.

On who he looked forward to playing against

I was looking forward to Yohan Cabaye, but he wasn’t there on the field today. But, Wilfried Zaha, I remember watching him a couple years now – pretty cool, especially being on the same side of the field as he was. I was playing on the right and he was on the left, so that was pretty cool.

On the importance of training ahead of this match

It’s huge. I guess that’s why they push everybody equally as hard, just for moments like this so that the tempo doesn’t drop off. They said that no matter who is in the game, we’re going to play the same style as we are always going to. There’s no change from whoever is in.

On the reward of playing against Crystal Palace

Oh, it’s awesome. Again, just to reiterate, it’s a dream come true. It’s so special. Working for what, the last six months now and finally to be able to put that shirt on in a game against an awesome Premier League team that I’ve watched for five years now, it was a special moment.

Alan Pardew’s postgame press conference

Alan Pardew

On takeaways

Well for us, our fitness levels looked good I thought of our first game against a team that’s halfway through the season. We lacked a little bit of sharpness, a little cutting edge, their ‘keeper to make three fabulous saves second half, down to his left-hand side. They really were top drawer, or two of them, for sure. I thought it was a good game, there wasn’t one tackle in the game that was unsavory. There were a couple of professional fouls so it was really played in a great spirit. It’s just a shame for the fans there was no goals, because fans love goals so it’s a shame.

On play of Andros Townsend and James Tomkins’ play

Well, James got stretched twice in his first two moments in the game, and he’s just got a little strain so that was a bit of a disappointment but I don’t think it’s going to keep him out for too long. Andros showed why he is going to be an important player for us. I thought he was the real highlight of the game for our team.

On experience of U.S.-based pre-season matches

Well, we you get here is a level of professionalism, because you guys are so good at sport. So our training facilities, our preparation for this game has been exactly what we want. Traveling, logistics is all perfect, and the competition is of a level now that is not far away from where we are, and that’s an indicator for Jim and his team and hopefully they take that into Sunday’s game because they matched us in certain areas of the pitch with no problem.

On being happy with aggressiveness

No, we was pushing, pushing to try to win it. It was a good little battle between Wilf [Wilfried Zaha] and the right back, and Joe [Ledley] hit that and they both come out with good marks. No, as you know that final moment in getting that shot off, just let ourselves, just didn’t show that usual quality, but that’s a process that comes later on in the preseason for us. I had said that Philadelphia had some nice moments and could have scored tonight.

On playing younger players on U.S. tour

Well. you see two to three of our players coming through, Sullay KaiKai, who unfortunately just got a calf strain that’s come off, but Hiram [Boatang] played well I thought in the central midfield area. And Zeki Fryers who is trying to reestablish his good career, did well at left back. So we had some good stuff in there, I was really pleased with our attitude in the game. I thought we really, really worked hard tonight and really showed a commitment try and win.


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Dear Manager
    Derrick Jones is not a young player in the sense you think I think he is.
    Thank you.
    The elephant in the room

    • Yep, he did not look or play like a typical 18 year old. Would like to see him get some minutes ahead of Restrepo or Creavalle to really see what he can do

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