Press Conference

Summary of Jim Curtin’s midweek press conference

In his opening statement, Curtin noted that it wasn’t the team’s best possession game, but the opening half was probably their best in terms of competing, fighting, and winning battles. He said everybody still gets along and is still fighting and working as a group. There is a sense of frustration from both players and staff, but they’re all still focused on the goal of turning things around. He recognizes he’s “catching a lot of heat right now” and he understands why. He says he still has an open dialogue with the players about how to get things right.

It’s as challenging stretch as Curtin has had in 17 years in pro soccer. Nobody likes to get booed coming off their home field, but it’s fair to boo.

“I’ll always point to myself first,” he said, “And as the guy leading the group it’s my job to get [things] fixed.

“In some ways, our guys getting away right now, clearing their head, sleeping in a hotel could be an advantage for us. We wanted this homestand to get us back on track. We failed in that regard.”

On benching Keegan Rosenberry, Curtin said:

“[Keegan] has been caught in two minds between attack and defending, and maybe lacking a little bit of confidence. At the same time, he was still giving maximum effort. I had a talk with him, it’s a hard decision, but decided… in some instances it’s good — mentally, physically, and the stress of always playing — to sit back and watch. That sounds like a coach talking, but I have been in those moments, and as a player you’re disappointed to watch, but it also can re-light a little bit of a fire and it can give you a little bit of a break. But at the same time, if we’re going to get out of this thing — and Keegan and I have talked about it — he’s going to be a big part of getting us out of it. Still an important player, a very good outside back in this league.”

He added that Ray Gaddis is not an option on the left. The club feels it has two guys at each fullback spot, with Giliano Wijnaldum as depth on the left. On Wijnaldum, Curtin said he’s acclimating to the league, and to the fitness levels the Union want. He’s done a good job in Bethlehem games, and is pushing to get into the Union 18. He recognizes that when he gets an opportunity, he needs to take it.

On the Piatti goal and Medunjanin’s involvement:

According to Curtin, the whole team can do a better job of sliding on that play, and it’s not just one guy that’s responsible or blamed for each goal. Haris has been one of the team’s best players and Curtin doesn’t “think he’s an issue at all.” A lot could’ve been done to prevent that goal.

On switching Ilsinho and Pontius:

The goal was to have Medunjanin hit balls behind Oyongo, and Pontius was more likely to get behind a defense. Also, the switch allowed Ilsinho to cut onto his right foot. Curtin thought it was one of Pontius’ best games of the season, even if the final ball wasn’t always right. Pontius did earn a nice assist.

On subbing Pontius off, Curtin said the team doesn’t go into the game with planned or set subs. The Herbers for Pontius sub was designed to help Gaddis with Oyongo. In this case, it didn’t work out.

On figuring out the midfield balance:

Curtin: “In each line, right now, we’re trying to find the best combinations that complement each other. We’re still piecing together that puzzle, and it hasn’t come off yet in a game, but this was the closest we’ve come.

“The balance isn’t quite there. Whether it’s Derrick, whether it’s Roland, each one brings a completely different skillset. We’ve had good moments, but haven’t maintained it for 90 minutes. We’re still in search of a group that can do it for 90 minutes.”

On Josh Yaro:

Curtin said Yaro is running hard, working on fitness, but still not cleared to join in training. The doctors have a plan for him. He can open up and fully run without any discomfort in the shoulder. Realistically, he won’t be ready for NYRB in two weeks. Curtin believes he has a group that can get results without Yaro.

On Sapong not getting calls and his defenders not getting cards:

Curtin: “He gets killed in games. It needs to be said, he’s playing very well right now. He’s worked his tail off. He has an unorthodox way of playing, so referees are a bit unfair to him, I’d say. There are big physical forwards out there that get more calls and get more respect than CJ does. He’s worked his tail off for every inch, for every goal that he gets. There’s no easy CJ Sapong goal.”

On starting well but getting broken down late:

“In each of our games — maybe with the exception of Orlando — our guys deserve credit for starting games well,” Curtin said. “They do exactly what we ask of them. In the NYC game, we turned them over almost 15 times in their own half and didn’t punish them. It’s the fine line between taking your chances and not taking your chances. We’re getting punished every time teams cross midfield.

“At halftime [on Saturday], we talked about continuing to press, playing like it’s 0-0. Whether it’s mentality, whether it’s in guys’ minds, we haven’t been able to fight through those tough moments. Is it individual tactics, is it technical mistakes? Sometimes it’s mistakes, but for the most part I still believe it’s about winning individual duels on the field. We did that in the first half of the last two games, and created enough chances in our own building to win games.

“3-1 at halftime, the feeling in the locker room was positive, but it wasn’t like we were still in control. So finding that energy, that willingness to go out and be brave and continue to press is something we talked about. But as a group, on the field and through the coaching staff, we weren’t able to execute.”

On Ilsinho and Alberg providing creativity in the attacking half:

“We believe that Ilsinho 1v1 is one of the most dangerous guys in the league,” Curtin said. “Has it added up to crosses this year? No, it hasn’t. Has it added up to assists? No. Goals? No. How do we get him going, is the big question. He’s running hard, he’s working hard, he’ll come inside in the ball. It’s a lot of effort sometimes to make a square pass or a back pass. He’ll have to beat 2-3 guys to make a pass. We want it more where he can go 1v1, similar to preseason where he could beat one guy and it would lead to a shot or an action to goal. Right now, it’s fizzling out in that final third of the field. It’s not just him, it’s getting numbers around him.

“Roland is a guy who, in the run of play, isn’t going to be on the ball as much as, say, a Tranquillo Barnetta. Tranquillo would get on it a ton, make mistakes, it would be his volume and go-go-go. Roland is a different player. Has more of a knack for popping up at the right time at the right moment and getting you a goal, like he did a lot last year, and like he did on the weekend. He has a timing where 10 minutes can go by where he doesn’t get on the ball, but when he does he can punish you. Can we work on his movement, maybe staying more central, not drifting out into wide areas, we work on that in training, giving him a designated area where we’d like to see him on the ball. We’ve come up a bit short getting both guys on the ball in their most dangerous spots. That’s on us as a staff, and that’s on the other players to play to their strengths.”


  1. I actually watched the press conference and wow does Curtin looked defeated. He comes across as being at the end of his rope without any ideas how to make things right.
    Also nice questions Adam. Was good to hear PSP being represented.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    “Ilsinho not getting crosses.”
    one hundred thousand Ughs.

  3. A guy who goes for 10 minutes without seeing the ball, and then pops up at the right moment and getting you a goal is not a #10 — he’s a second striker. So is Curtin basically saying that he’s going to push Alberg forward, as a sort-of-kind-of false 9 maybe? That might almost make sense, except that then somebody has to fill in the space behind him. Is Bedoya going to do that?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      would need a stronger defensive combination at 6 & 8 behind him. Bedoya’s fine. Medunjanin positions well but does not seem to be a ball winner, a destroyer. He shields and waits for help. We do not yet know whether he could learn to become a ball winner.

    • Two pre-seasons ago Curtin said he saw Alberg as a #8. Took him this long to finally see he not #8 or 10?
      No… they try to shoehorn players into their system.
      They limit themselves getting quality players that fit their scheme Cuz they are more concerned on getting players on the free.
      Curtin and Stewart finally got him to open the wallet for the wrong player. Bedoya is not a #10 or even #8 in this formation. Shoehorn. Wasn’t impressed when he played with Quillo

  4. Atomic Spartan says:

    This is a slow team. Ilsihno slow to decide when to pass because he’s too busy trying to trick his way through. Nobody tries to hit first time balls first time; gotta set up the ball first for the imperfect “perfect” shot. Only MH is quick to find open men, everyone else has to look up to find the open man and by that time nothing is a surprise to the opposing defense. Mids and defenders slow to recognize threats, reacting too late to stop them. JC too slow to recognize when subs are needed.
    Speed kills your opponent. This is a slow team.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      HM perhaps? not MH? Not thinking of an MH on the roster at the moment.
      only a detail. Does not distract from your point.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Speed by way of mental alacrity is the speed we also seem to be slow afoot of.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Saw first hand at the NYCFC game. They were faster at almost every position, except for Pirlo who runs about a half mile per game. That’s why when we were down that match, it was really inexcusable not to put in Herbers until way late in the second half and not use Picault at all.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    These summaries are good, Adam. Thank you.
    The highest compliment I can pay to an article of this type is “trustworthy.”

  6. Will Edu ever play again?

  7. He mentioned Wijnaldum not being at the fitness level the union want.
    You’re telling me he isn’t 50 minutes fit?!? (that seems to be the average team fitness length +/- 15 minutes)

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