Postgame quotes: DC United 2-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Note: Union quotes transcribed by PSP, all other quotes provided. Questions have been paraphrased.

Jim Curtin

Opening statement

Start with the obvious: Two points dropped on the road. Disappointing in that regard, not able to close out the game. The positive is a very poor first half where I thought Tranquillo [Barnetta] bailed us out with a special goal. From there, I was really happy with the response in the second half, pushed the tempo of the game, got our goal. I thought that we had three or four chances to make it 3-1 if we just get a play right on the break when we’re in a 4 v 3, a 3 v 2, if we could just get one of those right and kill off the game. At the end of every MLS game, it gets a little hectic and crazy, and people throw bodies forward and D.C. [United] did that, and we didn’t handle it well. This is what we are right now. We’re still learning to win on the road. Disappointing that we pushed through 94 minutes with a lead and not able to close it out, but we have a point on the road. It’s very tight in the East. We’ll need to go into New England and get points there as well now.

On Chris Pontius scoring a goal in first game back at RFK

It’s challenging when you walk into the opposition’s locker room for the first time when you’re wearing a different shirt. It’s a weird feeling. It’s a credit to Chris [Pontius], the performance he put in. He worked really hard, got his goal. It’s a sign of a good player if you’re cheered off the field by the opposing fans in a different jersey. I think the fans here are great, they respect Chris a great deal, and he scored a big goal for us tonight. So, happy for him. He’s been excellent all year for us. It just adds to the strong season that he’s having.

On Tranquillo Barnetta coming back after getting a week of rest

He does a good job. He’s our guy that can kind of slow the game down. We do need to get other people on the same page and also know when to recognize when to slow things down. I thought ‘Quillo, as he got going, especially in the second half, took control of the game. We had some good possession in the second half. Again, we’d like to push and get that third goal and kill off the game. But, even having said that, we should be able to close it out since it’s the 94th minute with some better clearances, better decision-making, just maybe keeping the ball a little better. D.C. put a ton of numbers forward. We could’ve been a little smarter in how we closed it out, but Tranquillo, overall, obviously a special goal when we needed one after a poor first half, and also he put in a very good shift in the second half.

On D.C. United scoring the second goal

Something we worked on all week was closing the ball down and taking those extra two steps to get close. Obviously, they threw a ton of numbers into the box. They had a lot of attacking options on the field, and then you think about who scores on the night and it’s their left-back and their center-back so, it’s very disappointing. Again, we have matchups and responsibilities, and we lost…there’s two guys at the back post. In the crazy moments, we talk about it all the time: Who are the guys that are doing the organizing, the yelling, getting guys going? When we do get a chance to clear a ball, who puts their foot through it, and it’s a 60-yard clearance that’s out-of-bounds and no one remembers as opposed to the 20-yard miskick right down the middle and it’s right back down our throats. It’s a fine line — we will learn from it — but it’s been a reoccurring theme now. We need to close these types of games out, especially on the road. We work so hard to get to that point in the game just doing all the little things right, and closing it out would be very rewarding, but now we have to go to New England and try to do the same things, get all three points.

On concerns of getting wins on the road

It’s hard to win. It’s hard to win games in this league, no question about it. Home or away, it’s very difficult, and you can see that across the league, there’s not many teams that are running away with things. We let two points slip. We’re disappointed about that. Again, we’ll get some things fixed and cleaned up. We’ll get through some injuries. I think Brian Carroll had what seems like it might be something that maybe keeps him out a bit, so we’ll evaluate that, but we have to get back out and work on the training field. That’s where it’s done. And, again, the guys are devastated, but we have to learn from it and move on to the next match and go again against New England.

Chris Pontius

On returning to RFK for the first time and scoring

It would mean a lot more if we win the game but, a bit weird being back here in this locker room, you know, the old faces but, I tried to push it aside until after the game to go out and say hi to the people. I just wish the result was a bit different, you know? With as many numbers as they threw in there late, and as many chances, it was bound to happen at some point and time.

On not celebrating the goal, was that ever a question for you?

It was never a question. The organization was good to me, the fans were good to me, I didn’t leave on a bad note at all. Never crossed my mind.

On the goal-scoring play

Great pass. It starts with his pressure on the ball, too. He wins the ball in a good spot, and then slight movement from me. He looks like he’s about to shoot and just lays me off a perfect ball. And then, at that point, I just pick my head up and saw Bill and thought I had a better chance going near post than far post.

What’s going through your mind when you hear the ovation from the fans when you were subbed off?

I was psyched [Note: Could have that wrong, hard to hear his reply]. I served my time here: I loved the fans, I loved the club, have a lot of respect for them. At the same time, trying to win games against them so…That’s the way that it is in this business.

On giving up the equalizer in the 94th minute

You’re going to get a couple of bounces like that go against you, and a couple that go for you. In fact, we had one [when] Tranquillo hit a free kick against Orlando and won us one in the 93rd minute, and this one came back to bite us in the butt tonight. But, you try…It’s just a heartbreaking way to lose because that tie feels like a loss, you know, so close to pulling off three points on the road.

On how strange it felt to return to RFK playing for another team

Yeah, very strange. I talked to Charlie [Davies] a bit about it before because he’s done it, he played here, and I just asked what it was like. He said the fans treated him well. Like I said, once you step between those lines you go out and do anything you can to win the game. That was my mindset, try to push everything else aside.

Charlie Davies

On making his debut with the Philadelphia Union

It feels good to get out there and play with these guys. You know, obviously, it’s a quick transition joining a new club, but I’m very excited and I’m happy that I got my first minutes with Philly tonight.

On making his debut in a familiar RFK Stadium

I would say it’s more so the guys that are on the team. You know, I’ve played with  [Alejandro] Bedoya — and against — Maurice Edu, and Chris Pontius I played with and I’m very familiar with all the other guys, so now it’s just about building chemistry. I think my style of play is a little bit different than what they’re used to, so I think come playoff time, we’ll be on the same page and we’ll be looking sharp.

On getting minutes before playing New England next weekend

Yeah. I mean, I played last week against Orlando. I think that’s what I really needed to get the confidence that, you know, I’m good to go, so it’s continuing to keep building on fitness, and performance, and sharpness and, obviously, next week, I’ll be ready to go. It’s a big one, so it’s important for us that we get three points. Playing on the road in the MLS is extremely difficult. However, playing on the road in New England is like playing at home for me, so I’ll be especially excited for that one.

On emotions facing his former team next week

For sure, of course. But, you know, this is the business and, obviously, I’m as professional as they come and I’m ready to help this team win and get points.

On how it helps having familiar faces in the locker room

Tremendously, we’ve known each other for a long time, [and] Mike Sorber was my national team assistant coach, so everything is very familiar. It’s very easy to settle in with these guys, it’s a great locker room, so I’m happy to be a part of it and now it’s about getting results. This team hasn’t seen the playoffs in a while; I have a lot of experience and I’m happy to help this team get over the edge.

On adjusting to his new team

There’s not many words that I can use to describe, not only the past few weeks, but the past four or five months. But, with that being said, I’m very thankful and grateful for where I am now. I feel that the worst is behind me and I have a very strong family, a very strong support system, and, you know, I’m ready to take the next step in my life. And, being here, you couldn’t take a better step, so I’m very, very thankful and fortunate that I wound up in a team like this where there’s so much potential and now we just have to realize that potential.

Andre Blake

On the late saves

We needed three points, so I knew I was ready to do whatever I can to protect the one-goal lead and to get us three points. Unfortunately, they got a late goal and this happens sometimes, you just have to move on, you know? We are starting to know what it takes to go on the road and grind out some wins.

On learning from the result

Well, I think we’ve definitely learned a lot from this game. We haven’t won on the road in a while and tonight we kind of get a taste of what it’s like to be up a goal on the road and knowing that the team is going to push for a tying goal, so now we’re starting to learn as a team and I think going into New England we’ll be confident that we can go in and get some points.

On D.C. United’s late game-tying goal

It’s a tough one. I mean, Charlie [Davies] did great to get back and win the ball, but then we just couldn’t get a proper clear on the ball, and he put in a cross and you knew at that minute they were just staying up and hoping for the best. And, it was a good ball to the back post — it was wide open — and he made a great finish.

On how Charlie Davies has fit in the locker room in such a short time

He’s a great player, you know, and that’s what we’re about. We’re about teamwork and we welcome him into this team and we just want to help him to make a transition because we know that he’s a very good player and the quicker he can adjust, the better it will be for us.

DC United postgame quotes

Assistant coach Chad Ashton

On the conclusion of the game

I thought we did a good job, for the most part, making intelligent plays and getting the ball to dangerous spots. We were starting to feel like it was one of those days where it just wouldn’t go in, but I thought we continued to create a lot of chances there right at the end, and it felt like we deserved to win so it was good to see it [Birnbaum’s goal] finally go in.

On giving up a goal just before halftime

Real tough. I think we don’t do a good job on it, we shoot ourselves in the foot on that one, and right before that we should probably have gotten a second. We just have to do a better job of starting and ending halves, and if you go up 2-0 at that point, their heads go down. Instead, we don’t put our chance away, we don’t do a good job on the set piece, and all of a sudden their heads go up, and we come into the locker room a little more dejected than we probably should be.

On Ben Olsen’s ejection

I think it was just general chatter, just stuff that adds up over the course of the game, and sometimes they just basically draw a line in the sand and that’s what happened.

Rob Vincent

On the importance of picking up a point

Huge. Coming off the field, it gives you a little bit of a lift. If you come away with nothing tonight, you come into training on Monday and you feel down. But you look around, even though there’s disappointment that we haven’t picked up three, I think there’s something to take from it, the way we fought all the way to the end. One point’s better than zero.

On the team’s response to Olsen’s ejection

At that point in the game, you’re fighting for an equalizer, it doesn’t really matter. I think we were a little bit frustrated at the ref anyway, and that probably just added to it, but at that point in the game you just have to keep throwing balls forward and keep hoping and trying to get stuff in the box. Like Chad said, we’re proud of the way we fought right until the end. We probably had five or six chances that we missed before that, and we never stopped fighting, we never stopped putting balls in there, and I think ultimately we deserved that.

On the team’s mentality in the final minutes of the game

Just keep plugging away. We made attacking changes, so you’re hoping that those guys can offer that lift, and offer that little extra bit of energy when the guys who’ve played 90 [minutes] are kind of starting to slow down. They did a great job, and like I say, that’s a characteristic of this team. We just keep going right until the end, we just keep putting balls in there, and like I say ultimately I think we deserved that goal if not another.

Lamar Neagle

On coming out with at least a draw

Yeah, that is obviously a positive. One point instead of zero. These last two games at home, we have controlled a lot of the game and had a ton of opportunities, we just haven’t finished. It’s a frustrating thing for these points that we really need.

On two weeks in a row having a lead in the first half and giving it up

Obviously we want it to be shutouts when it comes to playoffs and stuff like that. These things are very important. We were coping well with it throughout the season with shutouts and being good defensively and now on both sides we aren’t scoring as many goals as we need to win. They end up getting some easy goals.

On it being a crucial part in the season and not having any more stumbles

I mean you can look at the table and I think if you are honest with yourselves, we need to step up. Like I said these games at home are crucial this month. We are home. We had an OK away trip last month and we really need to pick it up. It’s very frustrating.

On Steve calling him off of the ball that he scored…

Yeah, I didn’t see him at all. I was trying to keep the ball in and I heard him at the last second and pulled out and he had a great finish. I mean that is who we are looking for. That is the guy who can get up and over everybody. He did a great job.

Steve Birnbaum

On how much a win at home means

I mean a tie is better than a loss but, it has been a while since we have won. We can’t keep getting ties. We have to figure out a way to get wins at home for sure.

On second game in a row having a lead at half and giving it up

We have to be stronger defensively and we can’t give up easy goals like that.

Patrick Nyarko

On the overall mentality of the team following the result

It’s all our mentality. We’ve got to pick up and fight on. It’s not good enough, simple as that. We’ve got a lot of experience in this room to know that we’re letting ourselves down and we’ve got to pick it up. The games are running out and we can keep telling ourselves that games are running out and the playoffs spots are being filled, but it’s not good enough. We came back, which is okay, but at the end of the day, we should have won the game. Right now, we cannot let ourselves down anymore. We have to pick ourselves back up and win the next game. We’ll start with one and we’ll move onto the next one.

On what improvements the team can use in the coming weeks

We need to address all aspects of the game. Defensively, we’re giving up a lot of goals and we’ve got to fight back and fighting back is not the easiest, so we’ve got to tighten up defensively. It’s not just the defenders; it’s all of us. We have to defend as as a unit and attack as a unit. Right now, we cannot make mistakes. Mistakes are really costing us and we’re going to make it a point to avoid those mistakes. If we avoid those mistakes, then we have a chance to win some games.

On needing to be forceful from the start

We cannot wait until the end and wait until we’re desperate to play like that. We’ve got to be forceful from the beginning, we’ve got force our will and we’ve got to make our intent known that we’re here to win games and that when they come in [RFK Stadium], we’ve got to make it a fortress. We’ve been pretty bad at home this year. We need to start winning out the rest of the season.


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I’m frustrated…. with the play and the manager.
    Jus play well please.

    • I wonder if Jim was kicking himself after that second goal……if he’s honest with himself……I recall the bathroom scene in Liar, Liar……”I’m kicking my ass, do you mind?”

  2. Lucky Striker says:

    Yes…’s hard to win games in this league, especially on the road.

    When you constantly add-in the same overarching themes, it becomes even harder.

    + the perpetual handicap……darn near impossible.

  3. Throw all rhe numbers they want – keep the ball away and it doesn’t much matter. Why is it so hard for this team lately – still the Nogs hangover?

  4. “we’re learning to…”
    “we’re starting to…”

    That was Game 23, when do you think the action verbs change tense? We’ve learned how to win on the road. We’ve started and continue to close out games effectively.
    Slipped to 5th. NER host a free falling CHI team, let’s call that 3 for them. They could pass us this weekend if we’re still learning/starting.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I took some optimist from Barnetta’s play.
    That BC is likely out for a while will hurt. He is probably one of the organizing voices.
    Some of the breaks we got early, BC’s goal at Colorado, for instance, are balancing out.
    Wouldn’t it have been nice if that Israeli side had gotten Birnbaum. Ah well.
    Next week will be good because Bedoya will start figuring out how he fits.
    We probably need to save Herbers as a super sub, rather than start him, perhaps? Gotta think that one over some more.

  6. Philthy-Dee says:

    Completely agree to early comment on season balancing out. This team has been far above the bar set from last season. Playoffs are realistic benchmark.
    Jim has two big challenges. Firstly, sure up back line, specifically crumbling section of the dike at center right. Secondly, a forward who scores, great addition of Davies to have someone compete at forward.

    • I mean what is there to shore up? They went all in with their rookies. So that means they are going to spend the season living and dying on their learning curve.
      We are a playoff team as of now. But I think only next year can we put the full weight of expectations on this team.

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