Press Conference

Summary of Jim Curtin’s midweek presser

Philadelphia Union head coach addressed the media during his weekly press conference on Wednesday (video: Ryan Griffith)

On Colorado

  • The coaches and the team were not happy with the first half (just watch Haris Medunjanin’s post-match presser). Curtin emphasized that he wanted better pressure on the ball in the second half and wanted to get bodies into wide areas to develop some 2v1s.
  • He thought the team did a great job killing off the game.
On going to Salt Lake City
  • The Union are leaving for Salt Lake City tomorrow after training try and handle the the altitude adjustment.

On Roland Alberg’s recovery

  • Alberg has responded well to an injection for his quad injury.
  • He hasn’t been in full training yet, so he will be a close call in terms of availability for Saturday.
On Josh Yaro’s recovery
  • Curtin noted that Yaro goes 100% in training all the time.
  • Yaro will not be ready to play for Bethlehem Steel this week, but when early June rolls around he could feature for Bethlehem or for the first team.
On recent changes that have led to positive results
  • While on-field changes have helped, Curtin focused on what has stayed the same during the team’s recent good form. He said it starts with the culture that Earnie Stewart has brought in, which emphasizes not getting too high or too low.
  • He also noted that the Union are taking their chances now. He said the team is, “accurate with our shooting right now, everything’s hitting the target. Conversion rates in danger areas are higher than earlier in the season.”
  • In speaking about better pressure on the ball, Curtin singled out Fafa Picault’s speed as a huge advantage because it helps create turnovers. He also picked out Sapong as someone who has improved his pressing.
  • Curtin said, “We’re at our best when everyone is doing their job. Just do your job, is the message.”
On Oguchi Onyewu
  • Curtin said Onyewu has been called on a lot and keeps answering the ball. He added, “To go Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday and only concede one goal was impressive.”
  • The Union coach added that even when guys get Onyewu isolated, “they have a long way to go around him.”
  • Apparently, Onyewu was supposed to have a rest day on Wednesday, but he “came in and said, ‘I want to be in it.'”
On goals for the next two matches
  • “At minimum, we want four points out of these next two games,” Curtin said. “I know that’s hard.”
  • He added that it’s important to go into Rio Tinto Stadium with confidence.
  • Curtin gave a lengthy and surprisingly detailed explanation of why the high number of ties in soccer means the winning percentage of a good soccer coach and the winning percentage of a good American football coach would be quite different.

On recent strong play

  • According to the Union head man, 1/3 of MLS goals come from restart situations, and Haris Medunjanin has been a key for Philly’s success on dead balls.
  • Curtin also noted that C.J. Sapong is in the top five in the league in Expected Goals, Chris Pontius is in the top five in the league in assists, and Haris Medunjanin is near the top in usage percentage.
    • Usage percentage is a statistic that usually describes the percentage of a team’s touches made by a particular player during the time that player is on the pitch. Last season, AmericanSoccerAnalysis listed only four players above 12.0%. Thus far this year they have Medunjanin at 12.9%, which is equal to Ozzie Alonso’s 2016 season and well above the 11.5% Vincent Nogueira posted in about 700 minutes of game time.
Update on Fabian Herbers
  • Curtin said it was unfortunate that Herbers couldn’t make the most of his chance because of injury.
  • The second year winger is likely out 2-4 weeks.
  • In terms of replacements, “Marcus Epps is more than capable of stepping in,” Curtin assured. “Great in Bethlehem, great in training. I believe in Marcus, and I think he can step in and do a job.”
On Ray Gaddis
  • Curtin said a lot of good things about Ray Gaddis. He’s always ready, a true pro, a guy Curtin can always count on, always ready (again), always wins his 1v1 battles, and more.
On Giliano Wijnaldum
  • Based on the data gleaned from the midweek match against Houston, Curtin said “there was maybe some fatigue on Fabi’s side of the field.”
  • He added that the coaching staff wanted to give Fabi a chance to sit back and relax and take in a game from a different perspective, and recover.
  • Fabinho is still going to be the starter this week and going forward.


  1. Thanks, Adam. Good stuff as always, and much appreciated

  2. Love this stuff.

  3. Talk of Yaro reminds me how exciting this back four is going to be in future years. I know that they are not all ready to play together yet, but Winjnaldum, Elliot, Yaro, Rosenberry will be exciting, with Trusty waiting in the wings for a little further down the road. Add Jones @ holding mid and it is a really nice young group.

    • pragmatist says:

      This is Earnie’s process (yes, he wasn’t responsible for all of them, but it’s the theory he uses). And these guys all have great potential. Then you look at Najem, Epps, and Picault and you realize there is a very solid young core that can move up in a year or 2.
      It would be amazing to know that we have a solid pipeline of consistently quality talent moving up.
      Of course, we’ll still need the Bedoya’s and Medujanin’s to fill out the top end of the roster, but these young guys form a great base.

  4. was it just me or was there a moment where part of the video was edited out when he was talking about fabinho? what was up with that?

  5. pragmatist says:

    One thing I notice reading this summary is the heavy reliance on analytics. I like that they have adopted modern statistics, but I hope it is not their bible. You need to use analytics in combination with the eye test and logic. They are doing very well recently with it, but it will be interesting to see how heavily they rely on numbers going forward.

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