Press Conference

Transcript and audio: Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Photo: Earl Gardner

Note: Jim Curtin spoke to reporters via teleconference on Thursday. Questions have been paraphrased.

Opening statement

It feels like a while ago now but to reflect back on the Red Bull game, you’ve seen a lot of articles lately that that was one of the better games of the season in terms of end-to-end action. Again, I thought we had some good moments in the game, some things we need to tighten up and clean up in the run of play and on restarts. But, it was a game that I think we are a better team now having gone through it. High tempo, high pace game, had a playoff feel to it.

Looking forward now, obviously, we’ve had two weeks to prepare, we’ve had a good week and a half now of training looking to finish the season strong and the realize that this is just getting back to basics, doing the things that have made us a successful team this year and, again, executing our roles and just staying within ourselves, not trying to get out of our comfort zone.

We’ve been a very strong team at home. We set the goal of ten wins in Talen Energy Stadium, and we look to set ourselves up in a position to reach that goal, something we’ll try to do in these final two games. We know it’ll be a tough task, but the guys are confident, they’re playing well — and it’s good to see each day on the training field, and I’m confident it’ll translate to this Sunday.

On the mood of the team right now after being winless in the last five games

The guys are confident. Again, there’s been…while we didn’t get as many points as we would’ve liked in the last five there still has been decent performances from individuals. Training sessions have been sharp. The group is loose, excited for the opportunity; we know what the challenge is. We’ve put ourselves in a position now with two home left where we control our own destiny. Obviously, we’ll try to get maximum points, we want all six points. And, we still recognize maybe with a little help we can still host a playoff game. That’s a realistic thing.

So, again, overall, though, it’s about putting together a good performance. We know we had three difficult road games in Portland, in Toronto, in Red Bull Arena that were tough. Could we have won one of those games? Absolutely. But, we got one point in Toronto and I do, again, think we learned a lot in those three games, those three difficult atmospheres. We’re a better team having gone through it and now to come back to our home building, I think the guys are itching to go, they’re confident and they’re ready to show our fans that we are a very good team, and we look to do that on Sunday.

On Josh Yaro’s injury status

Literally taking the final test with the doctors to be fully cleared to play in training today. Again, I’ll have an update literally in ten minutes in terms of his status but, hopefully, it goes well. Everything is pointing in that direction that he’ll be fully cleared now in the next ten minutes or so and be a full participant in today’s training session and, obviously, that puts him in the group for Orlando.

On what he expects from Orlando, with them being out of the playoffs

It’s a tricky one. You have a team that, obviously, has some dangerous attacking pieces. How Jason [Kreis] handles it, I don’t know. You try to read into his quotes this week and there’s a mix of maybe giving some younger guys an opportunity. It is a dangerous one in that guys are fighting for their positions in the team, not just for the rest of this year but, obviously, for the future. So, they really want to impress a new coach.

We’ve really made an emphasis this week on whether they go the route of playing young guys — which can be dangerous too because they’re eager — or whether they go the route of the guys who have had good seasons for them this year doesn’t really matter. We have to be good ourselves and we control how we perform on the field, and it becomes about us, it becomes about the Philadelphia Union winning a game at home, and everyone just executing and doing their job. Who Orlando puts out on the field we kind of can’t control. Again, we know we’ve put ourselves in a good position all season and now, regardless of how they approach the game, we have to be executing and doing our jobs in front of our home fans.

On Alejandro Bedoya’s injury status 

Alejandro’s been a full participant this whole week in training. The guys had a day or two to recover on Saturday and Sunday. His bodies’ responded well to it. He has a little pain when he plays any ball that is a longer ball and his body has to kind of twist in a certain way. He feels it, it’s nothing that will prevent him from playing, though, especially in a big game. He’s a trooper, he’ll be out there for us and, obviously, we’re a much better team when he is on the field and fully healthy, which he will be.

Do you see some similarities between Orlando and where the Union were two years ago? 

It is similar. Again, they’ve had some decent performances; even their game last week at home against Montreal, they played well, created enough chances, the ball just wouldn’t go in for them. Jason’s an experienced coach, he’s won in this league, he’s a winner. He’s in the early stages of piecing together his roster and his team, and how he wants them to play. Could he experiment with formation change and in the formation that made him so successful at Salt Lake, it’s a diamond midfield? I think you could see something like that and a 4-4-2. We’re prepared for that. We’re prepared for 4-2-3-1, we have to cover our bases. He’s a great coach. Again, his players are going to play incredibly hard for him, he motivates them well, so it’ll be a difficult task. Again, with [Cyle] Larin, with Kaka, with [Kevin] Molino — where the majority of their goals come from — they have no problem getting goals and creating chances. We’ll have to be sharp defensively, and we’ll have to do a good job trying to break down their backline.

But, yeah, some similarities there, I think that’s fair.

On what has been learned from late season performances over the past two seasons

It’s always tough to compare years: Personnel changes, a different group, I think there’s a different mentality, I think there’s a different belief when we play at home. Yeah, those old memories are tough ones. There were mistakes and lessons learned, for sure. Something now with games down the stretch, games of consequence I guess is a good way to word it, I think we’re just different overall. We can possess the ball better, we can dictate the tempo of the game, we have an ability to score like we haven’t had as a team. So, again, it’s in our own hands, we control our own destiny. In that point of the year [in the past] we were chasing things and we were kind of the team that’s in the situation of maybe a Columbus or New England are in now the last two games. That was a disappointing, tough loss; I think you learn from every loss, the Columbus one specifically. This group is different, we need to show that. And the only way to do it, we can talk about it all we want, but the only way to do it is on the field. Do your talking on the field. And that’s what this group has been very good with all year, and it’s what I expect on Sunday. I’m confident that we’ll have a good response and control things, try to control and dictate the tempo of the game.

On Ilsinho’s injury status 

He’s looked very sharp in training. Again, it took a little while for the shot to kick where he didn’t have any discomfort in it, but he’s really happy with how it’s gone and he’s glad he got the shot and it feels a lot better. And it shows in his training, he’s able to open up now and run full speed. Obviously, his talent speaks for itself: He’s a starter for the Philadelphia Union when He’s fully healthy and fully fit. He’s working on that fitness side now. He’s missed some time, obviously, after getting the shot. So, again, a guy who’s a great option to have to change a game off the bench, and it’ll be just a matter of if he’s able to get to the fitness level that we need him to have to be a starter. He’s probably not quite there yet as of this Thursday, but he’s really pushed and worked hard. One way or another, he will influence the match, I believe, on Sunday.

Are you concerned about the guy’s mentality if they don’t win on Sunday?

One of the good things about having some young players on the field is they’re fearless, you know? There’s no frame of reference for this situation for them so I think they’ll just go out and play like they have in all of their games. In terms of the experienced guys, we have plenty of experienced guys out there that have played in these big moments, the Barnettas, the Bedoyas, a Brian Carroll, a CJ Sapong, they’ve played in big moments, they’ve played in big games so, they know how to manage it. A Chris Pontius, as well. I’m not too worried about them getting tense. Again, we’ve stressed…We haven’t even really used the words “must win” or anything like that with the guys, it’s just about doing your job, executing, and just sticking and getting back to the basics of what has made us a good team. So, again, just to alleviate any stress that might come up, we’ve just made it about having a good performance and the points will take care of themselves at that stage.

Will Charlie Davies have more of a role down the stretch?

For sure, that’s the hope. Charlie’s been sharper and sharper every day in training. Again, everyone has to remember, he’s a guy who literally just beat cancer so, again, to expect him to just be fully fit, a hundred percent right off the bat was a little unrealistic. Again, there’s going to be opportunities for him, there’s going to be minutes, and he’s a guy who’s played in big games and has scored big goals for teams down the stretch and also in the playoffs. So, I’m still very high on Charlie. Again, when he gets his opportunity I’m confident that he’ll take it. He’s a winner, a big game player, and, yeah, these are big games down the stretch so I do expect him to play a role.

6 Comments

  1. Not a one question
    about Mo
    that tells us all
    we need to know
    the playoffs are on the line
    though Barclay Prime
    is where Edu will be to dine.

    Hoping that injury in time
    begins to feel fine
    be sure to order
    al a cart
    as you sure as hell
    won’t get the start.
    .
    .
    Good eats at Barclay Prime.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Beat me to it… and you did it better then I would have 🙂
      .
      Unbelievable. I should get a media credential and just ask until I get an answer of some substance. PSP – maybe some help…

  2. In reference Edu, that he got no minutes when dressed for a Union game says they are choosing not to risk upsetting what already exists.
    .
    I hazard the guess he may get a shirt but sees the field only in case of a disastrous injury somewhere.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Can you imagine paying a player 700K then having concern about ‘upsetting what already exists’- therefore not playing one of your featured players – when what you have really hasn’t been very good for months?
      .
      Too much for me to even consider on top of too much posting for me today.. I gotta go underground bury myself with the sand fleas.
      .
      I’m dumbfounded if what you say is true. DUMBFOUNDED.
      .

  3. The Little Fish says:

    It boggles my mind that MLS frequently features Mo and yet he has absolutely no prospect of playing……and everybody around here knows it. We just don’t know why.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

%d bloggers like this: