Postgame video and transcript: Union 2-2 NYRB

Photo and video: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Note: Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference, and comments from CJ Sapong, Fabian Herbers, and Keegan Rosenberry transcribed by PSP. All other quotes provided. Questions have been paraphrased.

Jim Curtin

Opening statement

Proud of my guys. I thought it was a good game, two very good teams, two of the top teams in the East, going at it. I thought that the first half was a little strange, I think we gave up silly goals, we could call them. Ken [Tribbett] makes a mistake obviously; thought he actually rebounded well and continued to still pass and do the things out of the back that we want him to do as a center back so, good response from him after a big mistake — he knows that. The Sacha [Kljestan] one that deflects, catches Andre [Blake] off a little bit, they probably deserved to be ahead in the first half. I thought our response, though, was good. I thought that Fabian [Herbers] came into the game and made an impact. I was happy with all of the guys.

We’re at our best when we’re high pressing, we’re pushing the tempo of the game, we’re all on the same page. We did take risks, for sure; down two goals, you have to take some risks and I thought our guys did that today. Incredibly proud of the effort. The red card obviously changes the game. I don’t think it was a malicious red card, I think it was a factor of Ilsinho kind of getting up after getting piggy backed for about 10 yards and he kind of flails his arms and Connor [Lade] is a hardworking, hard-nosed player, but he is short and I think that the height factor would’ve normally been hitting him in the chest, catches him a little bit under the neck, so unfortunate. I don’t think it was malicious, [but] changed the game obviously. We go down a man, which is big, I thought we had all of the momentum at that time. However, even down a man I thought we pushed the game, had opportunities to win in it. On a different night, I think we can get all three, but I think, all things considered, that a point is a fair result.

On offside trap preparation

We were offsides a lot and that’s on…A lot of them were silly offsides where the ball is now, the players on our team can see the line clearly, so that’s just a matter of working back. Again, I wouldn’t call it, “a great offsides trap,” I don’t know that’s like a 1980’s thing, so I won’t get too much into that. But, again, we were offsides too much.

On the performance of Chris Pontius and CJ Sapong

They always work hard, everybody works their tail off, and we said that at halftime. I said, “Guys, you’re working, everybody is giving maximum effort, but we can work a little smarter.” We turned over a couple silly balls and let’s put our best players on the ball more. Simple right? Put Tranquillo [Barnetta] on the ball more, put Ilsinho on the ball more, put Roland [Alberg] on the ball more. We didn’t do that in the first half, but those are the guys that can make the game. Get the ball to C.J.’s feet. In the first half, I don’t think we played one ball into his feet. We played aerial balls that he had to battle two center backs. Much better second half, similar to the Open Cup game. Similar games in some ways: two really good teams going at it. I think it was an exciting game for the fans, for sure. It needs to be said, the fans were excellent tonight, that was a packed house, that was as loud as it has been in this building this year, and I think our players deserved that. That was great to see our fans push them on, and they really helped us a lot in that regard.

On Chris Pontius being a factor on the weak side

Because Chris is a great player. I mean, he’s a guy who’s been the through the battles in MLS. He’s an excellent winger; I think he’s one of the top in the league. He’s got a knack around the goal, right, so he has a way of moving in the box that you can’t teach — I can’t coach it. Some players have it, some players don’t, and he has a way of arriving in the box at the right time. Needs to be said on that play, too, when you watch it back, Fabian [Herbers] makes a heck of a cross, CJ makes a heck of a near-post run that we work on a ton in training, taking that center back out, and then you see Chris gets the tap-in and gets rewarded. Similar, actually, we had another chance at the tap-in, but we missed it at the end. So, again, tough game. I think a point is fair, but I’m getting greedy and I think we could have took all three.

On last 30 minutes

It’s a hot night; our guys are fit. That is one thing I will say, I think none of our guys were cramping up or anything that like that, everybody was pushing the tempo of things and it was real game. That had a playoff feel to it, it was intense. I think, again, two good teams that press, that like to get after it in the right way. They had the better of it in the first half and I think we had the better of it in the second.

But overall, happy with the effort from the guys. Again, you go through all of the names — think of the ground Brian Carroll covers tonight. Again, kind of our unsung hero this year in terms of putting out fires, doing the dirty running. But we’re a fit team, we’re strong, we’re not afraid to play Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday. We don’t get concerned with that, we don’t rest, and again, you guys can keep going back to it, I keep saying it: When teams do their…What’s your guys’ word that everybody loves now? The squad rotation? When teams rotate their squads and change five and six guys in MLS, they lose four or five to zero. So, you guys have seen that now.

So, we’re a team that’s going to maybe have a change or two, but we have a really strong XI and a really string 18, and a really strong 28, so we are happy with our group. Everybody pushes the envelope in terms of fitness every day but, yeah, that’s why the last 30 we still we’re strong. Even down a man I thought we pushed the game.

On decision to start Ken Tribbett and what you say to him as a former center back 

He was the first guy I went up to after the game because as a center back you have to have a short term memory. It’s kind of like a defensive back in the NFL: You get beat, it’s going to happen; you make mistakes, it’s going to happen, but you’re only as good as your next play. And it’s a hard lesson to learn. I chose to start Ken because we won 3-0 against DC United and we didn’t give up a goal, and I thought there was some good things that were happening. Did he make a mistake? Yeah. He’s a big boy, he’ll put his arm up. He’s a pro. I thought he still responded really well. Again, you can speculate and say, “Oh, if Josh [Yaro] was in, he doesn’t do that,” but that’s not what we’re about.

Everybody has come into our team and contributed at some point this year and that’s been the way it’s going to keep going. We have a big Open Cup game against New England, we have a big game on the road against Montreal, and you can see how tight the table is. We’re in a very good spot with a game in hand on the team that’s ahead of us and Red Bulls behind us, one less game played. So, I like where we are, we are going to continue to push, and Ken is going to bounce back from that mistake.

On two-minute scoring stretch

We don’t quit, that’s the thing if you’ve seen us home and away. We don’t lay down and stop going, stop pressing, so it’s a credit to the players. Players win games. Again, I have said it before, players win games, coaches lose games, and referees ruin them, and it rings true every week.

On the team never quitting

Belief is the word. I was going to say it, you beat me to it, but belief is it, it’s everything. When they walk out on this field, they know they can play with anybody. You’ve seen it now, whether you want to call it the Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC; we can go toe-to-toe with anybody, we’re a confident team. But there is belief. If we go down a goal, we’re not worried, there’s no panic, we’re not scared. The guys just keep going, they keep pushing, and they wind up getting rewarded. And, again, really, really happy with how they responded and I’ll go to war with those guys any day.

On Herbers playing as the striker versus the wing

It’s a good point, he did a good job. We just thought that we needed a change, give them a different look. It was kind of as a, I told him, I called it a second forward but, again, come back off the ball because CJ is occupying both center backs for the majority of the night so if he came underneath we thought we could get him on the ball in some space. He has a knack, though, he drifts out wide, that’s where he does his damage, he has a tendency to move out wide where there’s space. He did it on his own and that’s where we got the goal and the service from. So, he’s a great player. I think he came into a game and changed it, which was good, and that’s what we want all of our subs to do, and I thought that he did very well. Great young player. Still has a lot to learn, but does everything you ask and is not scared to go into a game like that. Again, national TV, packed house, and you just give him his instructions and he looks at you like he has been doing this for 20 years. So, again, it’s a good thing.

Postgame comments from CJ Sapong, Fabian Herbers and Keegan Rosenberry

CJ Sapong

On wearing RBNY down in second half

We had a feeling that we wanted to at least get a result out of the game. The fans stayed in the game with us, as well, and I think we just wanted to show well for them.

On first and second goal and red card

The PK was open and, I mean, I’ve been trying to take some of the recent PK’s but we’ve had other guys step up, and I was just first to the ball and I think that’s a pretty good strategy we have on the field: whoever feels confident goes up and takes it, and I was able to put it in. And right after Fabian came on, provided a spark, got a ball down the line and I tried running to the near post and Pontius made a great run to the back post and put it in.

Fabian Herbers

On the comeback

Always when you’re down 2-NOTHING, you got to get everything forward, of course. It’s a tough situation if you’re down, but the team proved we had more and we showed we have good team chemistry, that we have a strong team and we can come back from 2-0 down.

On his spark

I saw that they were pressing very high, and that we needed runs in behind, and I was trying to do that. Yeah, I got a couple of good passes from Keegan [Rosenberry], which led to the goal, as well. So, yeah, I tried to get some energy into the game and make the defense chase us, and I think that worked pretty well today.

On playing behind Sapong

Coach told me that we were kind of like two strikers, but me doing a little more defensive work because CJ has been into the game already for 60 minutes. But, yeah, I felt comfortable doing that. I’ve done that in college a lot and it’s not a completely new position to me. But after 10 minutes I had to go onto the right, so that was different then, too.

On what changed into the second half

I didn’t think we necessarily played a whole lot different. In the first half, we tried to put a lot of energy into it, too, but the 50-50 duels and those balls were just a little unlucky and a couple of calls just weren’t with us. They kept pressing high, so New York did a good job, as well, so you have to give them credit. Yeah, the deflection on the free kick and everything, it’s unlucky, but you have got to keep fighting until the end. Even with 10 men I think we had a bunch of chances and could’ve actually turned the game around and held the three points at home.

On the mindset after the first goal

Yeah, the first goal has got to come at some point. It’s important to have the icebreaker, to get the first goal and then the fans get back behind us again. You just have a different emotion and then the second can come, the third can come as well. That’s what happened today.

Keegan Rosenberry

On coming from behind to earn a draw

Especially against a team like New York, it’s good for us, just mentality-wise going into another tough week. But, again, I think that you’ve seen it throughout the year, just the resilience this group has. The best wins or ties are comeback wins, so it’s good for the team and I think we have a good way about us going into this week.

On the team’s conditioning helping them get the better of second half chance

Again, it’s a tribute to the mentality of the group, the leadership from the top down. But, that’s why we push ourselves so hard at the beginning of the year and it’s encouraging to every person on the field and off the field that we can do that at the end of the game, even down a man. Almost at the end, we’re disappointed not to finish a couple of those chances, but encouraging to say the least.

On what changed around the 60th minute

I think the second half, similar to the Open Cup game, we put the game on our terms. We pressed them well and we turned them over in good spots and we continued to attack them. I just think when we continue to do that, when our pressure is organized and as a whole, when CJ starts it right and we follow him, any team is going to have trouble playing.

On the team’s confidence with being able to come-from-behind

Very, it’s just a good feeling to have no matter what happens. If you go down a goal or two, obviously we don’t want to, but this team knows that we are never out of it. Obviously, we want to go into halftime up one or up two, but it’s nice to know that we aren’t out of a game and everybody knows that, as well.

On if anything was said at halftime

Nothing out of the ordinary. But I think any game where we’re down or when things aren’t going our way — from Jim [Curtin] to everybody in the locker room that is playing, we all think the same way. We’re never focusing on mistakes or getting down on each other, it’s just we play the way we want to, we’re going to have success. And I think, for the most part, we’ve done that this year.

Chris Pontius

I guess we were just a bit more alert. Maybe the other team lacks up a little bit. I just can’t put my finger on it. At that point, the game was so open. Both teams were tired. It was about making the right decision on the ball and I thought we made the right decisions on the ball tonight.

On the mentality on offense

Obviously every game is different. But obviously, we had the momentum. Jesse (Marsch) may have been trying to calm things down whereas we are going for the three points at home. Like I said, you tend to get a little bit more lackadaisical and you take plays off, whereas when you’re down a man, there’s a difference.

On motions to the face

I think you just need to be careful with it. We don’t have those conversations. We have been on the end of red cards this year, but we have also been on the end of going up a man at times this year. It’s going to happen throughout the year. It’s up to the refs judgment, but to be honest, I didn’t get a good look at it so I can’t comment.

On adjusting to the first half offside calls

Red Bulls plays a high line. They’re very aggressive. If you’re on on the night and your through balls are good, then you can pick them apart. If you’re not, you can run into some trouble like we did tonight. They came out with so much energy and high press you. The first half is always difficult against them and then the second half opens up and it’s easier to play.

On getting the ball out wide

It just happened. You take what they give you on every play. That was just what we talked about at halftime. We could be a little bit more clinical with our passing in the first half. We cleaned it up in the second half and you see the result of that.

New York Red Bulls postgame quotes

Jesse Marsch

On the two different halves

Well, I actually think the start of the first half was good and we actually have chances. We have a chance to make it three, and I think then the game is done. All four goals that have been scored on us here are the same thing. Same problematic thing, so, until we figure out how to deal with some of these moments, it’s going to feel like a long year. On the road, we just find ways to shoot ourselves in the foot. We’ve gotten leads, we’ve played well for major stretches, we’ve been the better team for major stretches, and we have walked away with very few result. So until we start to figure out how to handle games and moments better then it’s going to feel like we are starting at square one every time we start on the road. It’s going to be hard to build a momentum in the season. And all that being said, it’s hard being up 2-0 and then walk away with just a point. But a point is still a good result, this is a good team at home, but it doesn’t feel like that, it feel like a loss.

On if the rivalry fueled the game

It’s everything, it’s a fact that Philly is a good team this year, it’s the fact that they have knocked us out of the Open Cup this year, it’s a fact that they are a close rival, it’s the fact that now in every way they treat us like a big rival, so the game has a lot of energy to it. So it’s every detail about what the games are about. In the first half, because we have been in a lot of big games, we handle ourselves very well, and I’ll say the first 60 minutes we handle ourselves really well and then we get to the 60th minute in a big game up 2-0 and we give it away, it’s frustrating.

On the late subs

Yeah, ridiculously, I had to go to five in the back, when we were up a man and I didn’t feel like we could defend. So that was the only way to manage the game tactically so that we could somehow stop giving away big chances. And even with that being said, we almost gave it away still.

On Chris Pontius

Frankly, it’s not doing good on the back right side. Partly it’s Chris Pontius, but it’s also just that whoever plays right back for us. They don’t do their job, if they do their job then it doesn’t trouble us. But because they are late and they are asleep and they don’t see that Chris is running, then all of sudden Chris has tap-ins. It’s almost easy as can be for him. All he has to do is run down the field and tap a ball in the goal. Four times.

Luis Robles

On giving up the lead

In that respect, regarding the lead, yeah, in both games there was the first half, and in the second half it was unfortunately a different result. But if there is any sort of silver lining, it’s that we got a point on the road against a very good team that has been very successful playing at their place. There are some points of concern that we will address during the week, but right now I’m just going to focus on the fact that we a got a point.

On the playing style after the red card

Maybe not anxiety, it was a lack of gamesmanship. Understanding the situation, taking a step back, assessing what exactly is going on right now, we are a man up, there is a point in hand. So the very worse we finish with a point but then there is still going to be this idea, how do we push the game? How do we maintain possession? How do we create chances? Whether it’s on the counter attack, whether it’s set pieces that we got. There lies a frustration because the fact that we were a man up, and we had to go to a five in the back because we couldn’t seem to get control of the game.
On the NYCFC game

I mean NYC is playing well. They got another result today, congrats to them. We know it’s going to be a tough match on the weekend. But before that happens, there is certain things that we need to evaluate, access and get better at. Hopefully this week we can use it, take advantage of the full training week. It feels like forever since we have had a full training week. It feels like the Copa America break was forever ago, but nonetheless that’s just the way the schedule is set up. We have to deal with it because it’s not necessarily going to get any easier. With that being said, let’s take a step back and say that we played against a very tough team, who is playing very well. We got a point, and let’s dwell on that.

Sacha Kljestan

On the second half

We have to do better in the second half. We played like boys not men.

We made mistakes, we make the same mistakes we made in the past. Pontius scores a goal again the exact same way he scored against us last time. We aren’t learning from our mistakes. It’s going to be a long season if we don’t learn from our mistakes. How can they just play balls up the field and be on the run basically at our goal from the sides. It’s mistakes, we’re not men, we don’t manage the game well. We were up a man and we had to go 5 in the back because we aren’t getting the job done defensively, it’s ridiculous. It’s a big disappointing result.

On the NYCFC game

Do all the little things in training and get ourselves back. We know that it’s a rivalry game so it’s going to be a big one, so we know we lost to NYCFC last time and they are ahead of us in the standings. I don’t think we need any extra motivation; we just need to rebound, be up and be ready for that game.

On the two goals scored in first half

We did a very good job picking up the ball in there half on the very first goal. Bradley played me a perfect pass, I just had to take a touch and put it in the corner. The second one obviously is fortunate because it takes a deflection and Andre Blake is wrong footed. So it was a good time to score just before the half. I wish we had come out a little bit better.


  1. Does Jim sound a bit defensive about starting Ken, the many offsides & squad rotation? I’m surprised by his reasoning on the first: DC is not NJ, & Yaro is both speedier & more familia to Keegan. Credit to better fitness & to Fabian, especially. But the three points above are more the coaches’jobs than the players. Marsch had them ready and you might be forgiven for checking to see which squad played midweek. Take the point with 2 more big away tests this week.

    • Lucky Striker says:

      He’s a former defender. Of course he’s going to be defensive about everything.

      It’s also an excellent cover for inability to adjust from game to game until the cow has about left the barn.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        It is more important to maintain one’s position than to let clear and convincing evidence change one’s mind, isn’t it?
        You have a constitutionally guaranteed right to continue to be wrong.
        I fully defend your right to so continue, fully.
        But please avoid jury duty.

      • Lucky Striker says:

        No worries. 30 years in law make it a moot exercise anyway.

        No need for you to defend anything. We got Coach for that…….

    • I’m fine with Tribbet over Yaro.
      I rate Yaro a bit better then Tribs but not by a whole lot right now (Yaro has the higher ceiling long term IMO). Deciding to not change the backline coming off a solid victory is understandable.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        I agree that it is understandable that Jim Curtin continue his loyalty patterns.
        It is clear that NYRB perceives that Tribbett provides an offensive opportunity. They attacked him throughout the first half.
        He gave up a goal once, Grella stripped him in the back at least one other time – I want to say twice but I haven’t verified my memory with the replay – but did manage to move himself faster the fourth and fifth times and avoid disaster. So he was trying to learn, and that is all a coach can ask.
        The other factor in the discussion of Tribbett and Yaro we need to remember is that Jim Curtin was indirect but clear that he understood Josh Yaro’s shoulder injury, he said directly that he himself had suffered something similar when he was playing, he thought.
        We have no idea what bumps may have been absorbed in practice.
        For me, the biggest difference between Tribbett and Yaro is that Tribbett has less ability to compensate by himself for his mistakes because he is less quick and less fast. He gives greater leverage hence easier strength, and is a threat on offensive restarts in a way Yaro is not.
        I own that I want speed first in my center backs in a flat back four, since it gives me greater tactical flexibility in selecting the restraining line.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Marsch is a jackass claiming the refs called everything in the Union’s favor when his team isn’t getting carded for pro wrestling moves.

  3. Jesse Marsch is a bitter whiner. Takes a lot of balls to say something about the ref. Wow dude. Open your freakin eyes. Curtin’s press conference was night and day compared to his. I don’t ever want Marsch coaching my team. He’s a baby.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    Don’t worry coach, I’ll say it for the team, if Josh Yaro’s in he doesn’t do what Tribett did.
    The kid is better his ceiling is higher he’s faster he has longer passing range…. It’s really a no brainer.
    Yaro is the future and a prototypical CB. Tribett is the old model. Nothing against the guy but with Marquez and Yaro’s speed everything changes in how you elect to attack or defend.
    I’ve written it a 100 times so let’s write it once more… I’m ALL for squeezing the field.

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