Press Conference

Transcript: Jim Curtin’s midweek press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Jim Curtin’s opening statement

I guess the worst kept secret going right now is the signing of Alejandro Bedoya. It is, indeed, official. First and foremost, I’d like to thank our owner, Jay Sugarman, and all of our owners for this commitment. It’s a real commitment, and a statement. A declaration. And it goes along with the new training facility. The addition of Alejandro is a declaration that we are really, really raising the bar, and I can’t be more thankful to Jay [Sugarman]. I’d also like to thank Earnie Stewart and Chris Albright, who have worked tirelessly to get this done. I can’t say enough… the uniqueness, we’ll call it, of the deal, and the mechanisms that they had to go through, and the millions of phone calls and the hard work that they spent. Two guys that I will go to fight with for a long time, and I’m really grateful for everything they did to make this happen.

The player is a special one. He’s a guy that we can talk about technical ability, tactical ability, the ability to score a goal, defensive work, we could go on and on about that. But the important thing for the fanbase to know is that he’s one of us. Yes, he’s from Jersey, but he’s a Philadelphia mentality guy. He checks every box, and Earnie and Chris and myself and the technical staff, Earnie’s introduced a very thorough process when we evaluate players. Down to our own Billy Beane-type numbers. And Alejandro comes out with flying colors. Again, we make moves to win games in the immediate, to win games in the now, and also to have an eye to the future of this club. So really impressed with how the process played out.

We were aggressive, and we got a special player. One that will be here with us for a while. He’s excited, we’re excited. It’s a really special day for the club. Alejandro can’t wait to get to work, I can’t wait to get to work with him. You talk to any coach he’s ever been around, you talk to him personally, you get to know what he’s all about. And he brings us a boost at the right moment, when we do need a little boost in the summertime right now, with still 12 games left, a push for the playoffs. And we don’t want to just get in the playoffs, we want to make some noise in the playoffs. That’s the goal of the club. Again, the bar has been raised on all levels here. I’m happy to be a part of it in guiding this team, and we have just added a very good player to what already is a very strong team. So, couldn’t be happier. Again, a special time, a special day, and we look forward to getting to work.

Can you confirm the pursuit of Alejandro last year and why that didn’t work out?

He’s a guy, if you rewind… First of all, he’s a national team player. He’s one of the four to five players that Jurgen calls in every time, relies on him every time, puts him in the lineup every game. So, obviously, there’s always interest in top players in our league. When Chris and I went over to Nantes to look at Fernando [Aristeguieta], obviously. Alejandro was a guy that was there, that had shown in the past that he had interest in coming back to MLS. It was a time when a lot of guys were coming back, Michael Bradley at that time, Jozy [Altidore], Clint [Dempsey] had already been back.

So, I think it was in his mind, he was curious. He asked questions, we had discussions, talks just in passing. And you realize he’s a guy that is a winner,a nd it kind of starts from there. You don’t think anything much of those little conversations, but then they lead to things where there was a possibility last year where maybe we brought him in. It didn’t get done, unfortunately, but now it does. And, again, it’s an exciting time. A lot of hard work that went into it, and can’t be happier.

Where will he play and when will he arrive?

Alejandro has taken a medical in France; obviously our doctors still will confirm, we have a nice thorough process with that. He will arrive before the weekend, we’ll put it that way. In terms of how he fits into our team, we know exactly what role we’re going to play him in. It’d be silly to reveal that and give anyone a head start on preparation for the Philadelphia Union team. Leave it at that.

Is this weekend too early for him?

No, I would never rule him out. It’s not too early. Again, you can look at… we just watched him play a 60 minute game in the preseason, so he’s in good shape, everyone who’s talked to him. So, no, it’s not out of the question.

Will you have an easy time getting him to cohere with Tranquillo Barnetta and others?

Good players have a way of sorting that out. You talk about a Tranquillo, and you talk about what’s his best position and how does he fit into the team. He’s a guy who played as an outside midfielder at Real Madrid, came to the Union, has been asked to play wide, has played as a No. 10 for us and recently as a No. 8, so again, Tranquillo can adjust to good players. Good players have a good understanding of each other. The game speaks a language on the field and, again, good players have a way of sorting that out on their own.

It’s a good question, it’s a fair one, but it’s a quality player that we’re adding and, again, he’ll adjust quickly. And we have a good team here already and a good locker room that will make any transitions very smooth. We get along well, we laugh together, we argue together, we fight, you know. We don’t cry yet, which is good. So, we have a good group that is moving in the right direction and this is a piece that really helps.

How much of the conversations that you’ve had with him has been about positions and where he’ll fit in here?

We know what his role will be here. That is clear. That has been laid out. And, again, you look through his career: He’s played as a winger, he’s played as almost a second forward, he’s played as a ten, he’s played for our national team as an eight most recently in the Copa America in some pretty hotly contested, high level games. So he’s shown he has a versatile skill set.

I think he complements our group of players in that he checks every box, like I said, in the process that Earnie, Chris, and I went through. He checked every box in terms of a guy who will compete for everything, is good technically on the ball, likes to get forward, likes to score goals, but also has that grit and that fight to defend. And good tactical awareness. So, again, checked every box through our process, and I’m not concerned with what his best position is.

You can go through these discussions about… Let’s do it this way, I’ll flip it back on you guys: Former national team players that have come over here. Jermaine Jones. Good player, we can agree. Everyone can nod their heads and say yes, Jermaine Jones is a good player. He comes back from playing as a defensive midfielder at Schalke. He goes to New England Revolution and plays defensive midfielder, plays a lot of center back for them and they go to a MLS title [game]. He then flips and goes to a No. 10 at Colorado and they’re at the top of the table. So again, Sacha Kljestan: Great player. No. 6 or No. 8 at Anderlecht. He comes to MLS, he’s a top No. 10 in this league. So, again, it gets into semantics.

We know what we want him to do. We know what roles his roles and responsibilities will be with our team. Good players, the special ones — the Sachas, the Michael Bradleys, the Jermaine Jones — they’re top players for a reason and Alejandro is in that top class of players. You talk to Jurgen Klinsmann, and he’s one of the guys that he pencils in and needs to have in his group. And that’s powerful. The United States of America is a good team, and it’s the top of the top. And we’re excited to have him on board. And again, you can talk about his transition, but good players have a way of transitioning.

What’s his best spot?

We can argue, you can argue, we can have ten beers or twenty beers and argue that and you might be wrong, you might be right. So, again, what’s Landon’s best spot? What was it? Does anyone know? Or is he just the best player that our country has ever had?

Sure, but with this type of financial commitment, is he going to fill a number of different roles?

Like I said, he’s not going to fill a bunch of different roles for us. He’s going to fill one role that we see with him. So, again, I know what that role is, our staff knows what that role is, and we’re confident that he’s going to do a good job at it.

Maurice Edu and Alejandro played together on the national team and Rangers. Have you had any discussions with Maurice about the signing?

We revealed it to the team this morning. We told the team, they were all excited. Any time you can add a quality player like this to the locker room is good. They do go back to the Rangers days, they’ve stayed in touch. So it makes it, maybe, smoother, the transition and getting to know each other. He has someone he can shoot a text right now already and right off the bat. So, yeah, it helps. And there’s some familiarity there. And again, that’s two good players you mentioned in the midfield. That gets me excited.

You started by thanking Jay and the owners for the financial commitment. And if the numbers we’re looking at match up, that would be a record signing. What did it take to open up the wallets and put these types of resources into signing a player, because we haven’t seen that before here. 

I think the uniqueness of the league, of the deal. I mentioned the work that Earnie and Chris put in. There are so many moving parts, guys. Again, the allocation order — there’s just so much stuff that goes into this. That’s not always as easy as just saying he wasn’t willing to spend last time and he is now. I don’t think that’s fair. I think it was presented in a way this time around where there was numbers that backed it. I talked about us now having the Billy Beane-type numbers to back it up. It puts ownership’s mind at ease when the process is in place that we’ve checked it through this a lot, not just from a standpoint of watching him, but breaking him down. How does he fit, is he a Philadelphia Union type of player? Does he do the things that we want? Does he recover balls on the part of the field that we want him to? Does he get into areas that are difficult? So, it was a much more thorough process and I think that put people’s minds at ease. and everybody got on-board with the decision and made it more comfortable.

So, I think what you’re seeing is the evolution of a process coming together, and the club being on the same page and executing it. So, again, I don’t think it’s always fair to label as…You know, the word “cheap” gets thrown around and that wasn’t the case. It just was presented the right way this time, and Jay, to his credit, really stepped up.

In training today, Andre Blake was off to the side. Any injury updates? 

He picked up a minor groin injury in the All-Star game, so we had some discussions with their medical staff there that he dealt with, and it was nothing that prevented him, obviously, from playing on the weekend. He had a good performance in the game against Salt Lake, two tough goals to give up, two world-class goals. So, nothing major, but just a little precautionary today, so he worked on the side with Oka [Nikolov].

Do you see DC a little different than before going into this weekend?

Ben [Olsen]’s made some good adjustments to his group, some good trades, brought in some good players like he always tends to do down the stretch. You think of [Kennedy] Igboananike, a Lloyd Sam, a Patrick Mullins, guys we’ll have to be aware of, good attacking pieces that are experienced in our league. They are a lot different team than the one we beat 3-0 here. That was recently, but they’ve had some turnover.

With that turnover, hopefully there’s a little maybe rustiness, and still getting familiarity, getting used to each other, so hopefully we can take advantage of that. We know we have a tough task to go on the road. We had a strong meeting today with the group, in terms of the good things we’ve done this year, the things we can work on, our home record, away record, and what we can improve, some new goals and targets for these last twelve games. The players spoke a lot, which was good. That always makes it more healthy, so it’s not just me and hearing my voice over and over. It was a positive meeting. And it starts again with DC on the road now, a very good team that’s well coached. We’ll have to be on our game to get all three points.


  1. Man… how many times was the same question asked about where he’ll play?! Sounds like an Eagles press conference. Ha!

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Perhaps Jim Curtin should watch a British Prime Minister during question time.
      The phrase “Asked and Answered” would be used ad nauseam in an American sports press conference, I think.
      Careful listening can do wonders in many situations.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Coulda just answered the damn question IMO.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Yeah…. good question…. About that, the sporting director and I decided, we’re gonna employ Bedoya in a hybrid, double helix quantum derived permutation of cos for weekday games and ~ rise over run y-intercept on Sunday Dollar Dog Day games.
        We’re looking foreword to the full domain and range of this experience both rational and irrational. Next question.

  2. Nobody asked if this is it for our summer signings? That’s kind of lame. Love Beodya and stoked to have him, but we still need another signing to complete our team and really be ready for a deep playoff push (if we don’t continue to slide).

  3. Well now we know where Bedoya will play. Out on the wing since they got rid of Le Toux. I understand it, but getting rid of Le Toux who is the definition of the team, of Philly, and loves this place more than any player I know is the worst thing this team could do right now. Le Toux should’ve retired in Blue and gold as he is the all time leading scorer and assist leader. This is devastating for the fans, philly, and the 110% work and professionalism he always gave to this team. I will miss him. First Nogs and now Le Toux. If Barnetta leaves and Carroll retires we will have no professionalism left on this team.

    • I expect the team to only slide downward more after this.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I think this is a bit rash. I liked Le2 as well but he’s a 32 year old bench player.
      He knows he’s loved. He’ll be around again.

      • +1. I loved le2 as well, but age catches up and that first touch was not going to get better…

      • At this point I see Le Toux on the team less as a player and more as a personality and someone to teach the rookies the right way to be a professional in this city. I understand why it was done I just think there isn’t likely a player they will find that has his heart and his love for this city. He actually wanted to be here regardless of all the crap that has gone on throughout this teams history.

  4. Wow, loyalty really means a lot to Earnie & Jim, I guess. LeToux was the first guy to applaud the home crowd at Talen and traveling crowd away. He seemed to take the most pleasure in wins and to take losses the hardest. He loves Philly, which you can’t really trade for. I remember a loss a couple years ago before scheduled fireworks and LeToux just sat down at midfield after the loss and watched the fireworks with the fans, maybe a little despondent and definitely tired from the game. It seemed like he was one of us. I didn’t agree with those on this page that opined his career was over; he still seemed like a more dangerous attacking presence than slow Ilsinho, who blinds so-called experts with useless dribbling. Regardless LeToux will be missed by most of us. If the idea is to let all the players know that no one’s spot is guaranteed then a team meeting might have sufficed?

    • Easy there, Ben, you’re making it sound like this the first time a sports team has offloaded someone beloved. It happens, we move on. He’ll get his one day retirement contract and we’ll forget about the time in between now and then. Chip up.

  5. Get up to speed with the Union s series history against Toronto. We ve match stats, highlights from our match reports and analysis, video highlights, and more. Toronto FC brings its expensive stars and stellar, tactically-intriguing defense to Chester this weekend.

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