Press Conference

Transcript and video: Jim Curtin’s midweek press conference

Note: questions have been paraphrased

Jim Curtin’s opening statement

First off, just wanted to reflect back on what was a very good week, an important week for the club. Got big points in Columbus and followed it up with a great performance against Kansas City. I thought it was a comfortable victory, one where we were very disciplined, showed our fitness. And, again, the win in Columbus, I told the guys before the game, doesn’t mean a lot if we don’t follow it up with three points at home. To their credit, they put a ton into the game. Executed, scored some good goals, and beat a good Kansas City team.

We look forward to Chicago. Yes, they’re at the bottom of the table, but still a very dangerous team that’s playing a little better. They conceded a ton of goals this week so they’ll be looking to shore things up. So expect a tough task. We go on the road again. We talked about improving our road mentality. We have done so in the past three games in particular. Something to build on. Again, will take a very good effort to get a victory in a tough place to play.

Who will start in goal this weekend?

John [McCarthy] will start. John McCarthy will be the starter. Matt Jones got his first action last night in Bethlehem. Did well, responded well to it. Positive in that regard. Matt will be available to be the reserve goalkeeper too. Andre [Blake, who is on international duty with Jamaica], we wish him the best. We’re a better team with him and Alejandro [Bedoya] in the lineup, for sure, but this is why we are a team. I expect guys to step up and I know they will.

Is starting McCarthy a risk?

He’s gotten a few games. Oka [Nikolov] has done a great job sprinkling in games for him and Matt down there [in Bethlehem]. They’ve alternated. They’ve got some good minutes. Goalkeeper is tough because even though you get them minutes down there, it could be a game where he doesn’t see a lot of shots, a lot of action. So I think you get tested every day in training.

Obviously, he’s itching to get his first MLS game this year. He’s a professional. This is what he prepares for. Similar to a backup quarterback role. You have to be ready when your number is called, and I know Johnny will. He’s a guy I trust a great deal. He’s a winner, he’s won us big games last year, and I expect him to do the same in Chicago.

Did Matt Jones’ injury come into this decision?

Yeah, Matt’s only been training about one week’s time fully. And even the game, maybe, last night was a little bit rushed, but it was also in an effort to get him minutes and prove that he could be available to be the backup. Otherwise we’d be scrambling to call a league pool goalkeeper and I don’t want to go through those situations anymore. Happy that Matt’s healthy, had a good day of training today. Played well last night, the whole Bethlehem team played well. Again, I can’t stress enough how valuable that franchise is for us. Getting our young players minutes, getting our experienced guys valuable minutes as well.

Does McCarthy’s MLS experience from last season help him prep for this weekend’s game?

It’s huge. Again, the only way to learn is to be out there in the real games. And Johnny did that for us last year. Obviously, the Open Cup run was special as well. So he’s a guy who’s confident. All goalies are a little bit crazy in their own way. I put Johnny right in that category. So he’s not phased by pressure. I think he embraces pressure; he’s a fighter. Good strong mentality and he works his tail off every day in training.

He’s one of our hardest working guys. He stays after to take shots, and puts a ton of work in. I’m happy and excited for him to get his opportunity now. Oka’s done a great job training all three goalkeepers, and the 90 minutes will speak for themselves.

Any decision on Maurice Edu playing in Bethlehem this weekend?

Yeah, so Mo goes through a test tomorrow, just to see the strength in the leg. Again, that’ll be a Thursday test at 10:00am sharp, so anxiously awaiting the results. And Mo wants to be on the field. We’re better when Mo’s healthy and on the field. It’s been a while, it’s been a long process for him. He wants to be out there playing with his teammates, it’s what makes him happy. He’s getting closer. And if he does pass the test, the idea would be to have him play on the weekend against a very good Red Bull team. For confusion, the Red Bull II team, so there’s not any speculation as to him playing with the first team this weekend.

Excited for him, he’s put a ton of work in getting back. Our medical staff has done a great job getting him back as quick as possible. It’s been a lot of peaks and valleys, but the end is in sight, which is good.

Is that what’s holding him back? Strength in the leg?

Listen: When you break a bone, when you’re a professional athlete, you’re going to have pain your whole life. So again, it’s what you can tolerate, where he’s at, how his body responds to it. Once you, again, break a bone or have a surgery, you’re never quite the same. That’s the one thing the doctors never tell you. Once they cut you open, it’s going to feel a little different forever. So he’s working hard to get back to as close to 100% as possible. Again, once it’s approved by the doctors that the strength is there, it’ll be something he’ll have to manage on the field. There’s going to be soreness, there’s going to be pain. Just your body reacting after a nine month period of not having live minutes, it’s going to respond with some soreness, for sure, I think that’s normal. But we’ll do what’s in Mo’s best interest to get him back on the field in a safe way, where he can perform.

Is it fair to say this is later than anyone expected? Is it different to try and get a player back so late in the season?

Yeah, it’s different than any player signing or anything like that, just because he’s a big part of our locker room. All the guys have known him for a long time, he’s been our captain for a long time, so that part makes it a lot easier. He’s been around the team the whole season, he’s been in training now in recent weeks, so it’s a pretty seamless transition. Again, we know the quality that he brings in midfield. He’s a ball-winner, a great passer, a guy that will fight for everything. We’re excited to get him back. It’s a heckuva guy to add to your roster going into the final seven games and also the playoffs and beyond.

Brian Carroll? 

Good, good. He’s responded well. He’s a quick healer, he’s gotten back pretty fast. Both him and Ilsinho, the plantar fasciitis brothers, are back quick, and it looks good. We were trying to find a correlation between the injury with the doctors, because a lot of the time that injury comes from the transition from turf to grass to turf again or grass-turf-grass. And when you look at it, 120 minutes in New England in the Open Cup got to Ilsinho a little bit, and he started to feel it there. Then we had a grass game, and performances on turf, so again, trying to find if there’s a correlation there. They’re up there in the age category as well, so they know how to monitor their bodies, they’ll take care of themselves. Tough injury. Painful.

That’s another one where it’s just pain tolerance, it hurts, from what I’m told. I’ve never had it but it sounds like it’s agonizing. Hopefully, they’ll be back quick. I think they’re both on trend now to be available for Chicago.

Tranquillo Barnetta?

He warmed up with the group, he’s fine though. It won’t be any issue with an injury or anything like that. Just the body. We’re going to have a second session this afternoon. Go over some restarts and free kicks, and he’ll be partaking in that. And he’ll be starting against Chicago.

What does it mean to have a Union player called up and playing for the US National Team?

It’s great. Listen, any time this badge [pulls at Union badge on shirt] is in an All-Star game, is representing your country, whether it’s Jamaica or the USA, it’s important. It’s really powerful. Listen, when kids watch the game and they see who’s on the national team, that’s who they should all aspire to be like. I think Alejandro is a player every kid should want to be like. From on the field and off, he’s a great person, he’s a great player, a great role model for young players.

But yeah, to have a guy from the Union with this badge represent our country is really powerful. I think that shows the growth of our club. We want more and more of our guys to represent our country. That’s the goal of this league. Should be! The goal of MLS should be to make our national team strong. Soccer in this country will only go as far as our national team does. I’m a believer in that. I don’t think every team believes that, but I’m a big believer in that. And I think that it’s our job to get players for Jurgen [Klinsmann] to be out there for our national team to have success. And Alejandro is exemplary of a great role model for kids to look up to and a great representation [touches Union badge on shirt] of our badge and the US National Team.

What will the Union midfield look like without Alejandro?

We’ll miss him. There’s no question there. The good thing is we have guys in good form. Guys have been good in training, day in and day out. Roland Alberg, obviously, yes – he’s scoring goals, and that’s great, and I love that. But at the same time, the defensive work he’s started to do in games is something the staff has taken note of. He’s an option to play at the 10 [attacking midfield], ‘Quillo has played at the 8 [box-to-box midfielder role], so it’s a possibility. We have Brian Carroll coming back, you could go a little more defensive, we could be conservative, there’s a lot of good options for a coach to decide from, how we want to approach the game.

We’ve been a team that’s tried to look the exact same home and away, so we’ll continue to try and be a team that’s on the ball, possesses it, create chances – I have no concern about that – this team will always create chances, home and away. We’re the highest scoring team in the league, which surprises a lot of people, I think. I’m most concerned with our team defensively, and not conceding, because that’s who wins in the playoffs.

Is Warren Creavalle the anchor in midfield right now?

Warren’s been great. Again, if you rewind back to his night in New England, it wasn’t his best day with the ball, but in terms of breaking up plays and doing the gritty, dirty work and winning tackles, he’s been excellent. The past two games now, he’s had to deal with [Federico] Higuain, which is no small task, and also — well, first Lee Nguyen, then Higuain — then Benny Feilhaber, who’s a handful. He’s done a good job shutting down and neutralizing opponents’ No. 10s. Again, a guy who flies under the radar on our group, but, again, I keep stressing, the accolades will come for this team as we have more success as we put the wins together. By the way, I saw an article written about the top No. 10s in the league and Tranquillo wasn’t even on the list, which was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

How much better can Andre Blake get?

He’s been excellent. Again, a guy who… you never know until you get your first full season. Still seven games left, but his body of work this year has been strong. There’s still things he can work on as a young goalkeeper. The kicking, consistency, distribution. When do you come, when do you stay on your line. Oka works with him diligently on that.

But again, his upside is incredibly high. He has played great for us, he’s won us games by himself, he’s made big saves. And he’s worth a heckuva lot of points at the end of the day. It’s a position that I know is important, and Andre’s done a great job for us and I hope that continues the rest of the way, through the end of the season. For the Union, for his country, and also hopefully into the playoffs.

Roger Espinoza’s red card was rescinded. Thoughts?

I don’t think it was a straight red. Could you call it a second yellow card? I think absolutely. That’s a Kansas City issue. It’s good, I guess. I don’t know how to really respond other than I don’t really care because we don’t play them anymore. He led with his forearm, there was contact for sure, not a straight red card in my book though. I don’t like guys getting sent off for things like that. So that would be where I would stand on it. But you could see, possibly, a second yellow. Because he does initiate some contact.

How do you assess Chicago coming off a low point [giving up 6 goals to DC]?

It’s hard because if you watch the tape of the game, they’re actually in the game early. I talked with [DC United head coach] Benny Olsen yesterday when I was in the car and he said they had a ton of fight, they were up for the game from the start. He said until the red card [on Khaly Thiam], [Chicago] had [DC United] on their heels. So it’s not going to be easy, when you have guys fighting for their jobs and their livelihoods for the next season, it’s very difficult. They’re a good team. Again, 6-2 scoreline is a little deceptive because of the red card. Chicago even created chances with a man disadvantage. A team that’s improved a lot down the stretch. A coach that I respect, and a tough task for us. They’re going to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder having conceded a lot of goals. but again, you talk with Benny and he said they were a lot tougher than the scoreline showed. We expect a difficult game, and it’s a good team.


  1. Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

    So, if I take a drink every time Curtin says “again”, how many minutes into the press conference would I have alcohol poisoning?

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Thought when bones broke they healed stronger.

    • The question should be when did he break the bone? As far as I know it was a stress fracture. Entirely different from a full blown break. The more I hear about Edu the more I think its all BS. Dude doesn’t seem to want to play just wants a paycheck I say ship him off. Stress fractures can take time to heal, but it sounds like he has no interest in one letting it heal and then two working to get in shape. Yeah you fracture something there is pain, duh but there is a correct way to heal and strengthen at the same time. Its been what about 6 months since they initially annouced his stress fracture and he was injured 2 months before that too I believe. That’s 8 months more than enough time to heal a stress fracture if you listen to the medical staff. His albatross of a contract is not worth what we get from him.

      • Darth Harvey says:


        couldn’t agree with you more

        Edu was never and will never be worth the size of his contract.

        pair him up in some byzantine MLS two-for-one conjuring with De Jong and send him to Turkey so we can get some GarberBucks …. it will at least contribute something to this team at some point … not sure if the same can be said for Edu.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Players have come back from major ligament surgery faster.
        I’m still on board, well as on board as an Okugo fan can be…. but something seems off.
        They say pain is an entirely subjective experience and is what a person says it is… but I gotta wonder about his threshold a bit.
        Pain and Prima share letters….. wait what — you can never prove I think that.

      • Apparently his threshold seems to be below a 3 year olds.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        How quickly we do forget.
        Open Cup final last year. He played on a sports hernia that was already surgical in an attempt to win silver. He wanted to do it, by the by.
        He got the stress fracture over-training to be back for this season.
        You have a constitutionally guaranteed right to trash the man.
        and you have a constitutionally guaranteed right to completely ignore factual evidence.
        You do not have, however, a constitutionally guaranteed right to be respected for so doing.
        without saying so in so many words you have called him a malingerer. Jim Curtin defied the man who both had the legal right to fire him and had the track record of doing so with his predecessors to excise a malingerer from his team, Lord Goaldemort. If Edu were not a good guy, would he say what he has said?
        He certainly was not malingering at the open practice I was lucky enough to see at the beginning of July.

      • I don’t think he is faking the injury I am saying it is more than the proper time for this type of injury to heal. If it has not healed properly than it is something he is doing wrong in the recovery process, possibly overworking it. My argument as I have said again and again is not with Edu it is with his contract and the fact that I really don’t see him being needed on this team right now. Sure he could be a good locker room guy, so wasn’t Le Toux, so isn’t Carroll, so wasn’t Nogs. 2 of those three are gone and all were paid under what Edu makes and the team has still found a way to keep things going to a degree. Sometimes its time to just move on from an individual and I think it has been time to move on from Edu. And yes I remember him playing injured in the open cup final I did not think he should’ve been playing injured. I also remember his horrific penalty. Edu often can be a great asset to a team, but I feel like it has been a few years since he has been that game changing type of player yet people still view him as such. Edu to me is your run of the mill average MLS midfielder nothing more nothing less, but I do not think he fits the lay out of this team.

  3. Rare form there. #Curtingotjokes

  4. it’s hard to say “we are better when Mo is on the field”, when in fact we have been better when he hasn’t been on the field…

    … that aside i think he will improve what we have, it was the wording on the response that had me.

    • I could argue we have better chemistry without him. Personally I think our current best lineup is with Carroll at the 6 not Edu.

      • i think our chemistry currently is as high as i have seen it. However i feel it is hard to argue “with edu” when we haven’t seen him in this mix of players.
        From a strictly positional perspective Carroll looks like a better 6. However “if only our better athletes” argument would say if we can keep Edu in place at 6 the quality would be higher.
        Even from a set piece perspective–defending AND attacking Edu>Carroll

      • I can agree with you on the set piece perspective (as this is not and never will be something Carroll can contribute too), but other than that not sure we gain much with Edu.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Team set piece responsibilities are not limited only to head balls.
        And, had you seen the first goal scored by Bethlehem Steel Tuesday night, you would be reminded that head balls are not always won by those who are tall.
        Full disclosure: I stand 5’6″.

      • I know set pieces are not just won on head balls, but when was the last time you saw Carroll contribute on any type of set piece in his career.

  5. Bedoya – Edu -Barnetta , 6/8/10, sounds almost poetic, I’m
    waiting to see it.

  6. Old Soccer Coach says:

    If we have among our soccer nut colleagues on this website anyone who knows stress fractures from a medical perspective, might they consider educating us?
    All of us, whatever our opinions of a players merits or lack thereof could benefit from becoming better informed.

    • +1
      Stress fractures seem like “turf toe” in that it could be a week or a year.

    • Found this OSC:
      In the comments section Dr. Geier says “Surgery for a tibial stress fracture can take 4-6 months or more for return to sports. Return generally depends on full healing of the fracture, surgery or otherwise.”
      Most other non-doctor sources (ie runners websites) I see anywhere from 4-12 weeks of no/minimum activity depending on type and location of fracture and to ramp up activity slowly over an addition 4-8 weeks to prevent re-injury.

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