Press Conference / Union / US

Double dipping: notes from Sarachan and Curtin’s press conferences

“Christian Pulisic is going to be a part of the game here against Bolivia.”

That was the headline from U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan’s press conference this morning at Talen Energy Stadium.

The Borussia Dortmund phenom and Hershey, PA native will don the Stars and Stripes again when the U.S. hosts Bolivia in a friendly at the Philadelphia Union’s home venue on Memorial Day, May 28.

“I’m really excited to play in Philadelphia,” Pulisic said in a statement. “Obviously, it’s close to my home and a lot of my family will be there, and I’m super excited to put on the U.S. jersey again.”

The Bolivians will be a familiar opponent for Pulisic. Exactly two years to the day of the upcoming friendly, Pulisic scored his first international goal for the U.S. against the South American side.

He might not be the only local player to feature in the game.

“For sure, we’re going to have MLS players available to us,” said Sarachan. “I want to be cognizant of, and fair to, certain clubs. For our match against Bolivia, it may be slightly tipped with more MLS players. When we go to Europe, [it] may be tipped with more Europe-based players.”

With the U.S. failing to qualify for the World Cup, MLS clubs won’t have to fear losing key players for four or five games. (Not much of a silver lining.)

One of the possible players to feature at Talen Energy Stadium is Columbus Crew goalkeeper and Downington, PA native Zack Steffen. “All of the components that make up a good goalkeeper, his boxes get checked pretty well now,” said Sarachan, who recognized the next step in Steffen’s progression will come with more experience with the national team.

The conversation then turned toward one of Sarachan’s former players, Union head coach Jim Curtin. “Jim was first of all a terrific team guy.” said Sarachan. “When I had him, I would call him more of a quiet guy. He just went about his business. When you had real soccer conversations with him, you got the sense that he was a thinker.”

While Sarachan didn’t know Curtin was destined for coaching, he wasn’t surprised that Curtin was a “real players’ coach,” adding, “He does things in a real professional manner and so it’s great to see him in that role.”

Curtin’s turn

Sarachan wasn’t the only head coach to speak, with Curtin addressing the media for the first time since a dispiriting 2-0 defeat in Dallas on Saturday night.

“Our backs are against the wall a bit. We’re going to need guys to roll up their sleeves a bit and fight,” said Curtin.

The question then is whether those players will be the same ones who disappointed for the last few weeks.

Curtin at least partially answered this question. When asked if forward C.J. Sapong and winger David Accam, in particular, would benefit from a break, Curtin stated the change “needs to come on the field.”

And Curtin will give them that opportunity again this weekend. “Those are two guys that are going to be on the field this week against D.C.”

It also seems unlikely Homegrown talent Anthony Fontana will replace Czech international Borek Dockal at the No. 10, although at no fault of his own.

“Anthony’s a guy who’s done nothing wrong. He’s been excellent in training.” Curtin though also defended the early struggles of Dockal, “Borek has done a good job for us. The players around him are still adjusting to his quality and the vision he has.”

With no wins since the season opener on March 3, Curtin backs his team to turn things around.

“The narrative can change quickly.”

The tidbits
  • The U.S. team will arrive in Philadelphia May 20 and begin training the following day at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Sarachan offered high praise for the Union’s academy. “I think their youth development program and the setup they have is fantastic. I think that’s going to yield good players.”
  • As of yet, young Union center back Auston Trusty hasn’t featured for the national team. It’s probably why Sarachan left him off his list of promising young defenders: Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Erik Palmer-Brown.
  • One player who won’t start this weekend for the Union is Brazilian left back Fabinho. After recovering from knee surgery, “He’s healthy enough to be a full training participant,” but “fitness-wise, it’s a stretch” for the veteran to start against D.C.
  • When asked if this weekend’s game is a must-win, Curtin answered, “Perspective wise, there’s a lot of season left. But at the same time our backs are against the wall.”
  • On the decision to keep Jack Elliott out of the starting lineup in Dallas: “You could tell in his body language it was a maybe, and maybes in our league are tough.”
  • On if the Union need to attack more centrally: “Well, the goal is in the middle.”
  • Curtin stated that the focus in training has been “about doing the simple things perfect.”


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Jim Curtin would be wise to have a sit down with Brett Brown.
    “Pace. Space. Passing. Movement off the ball is king.”
    Amazing how a totally progressive—- Vision. Philosophy. Plan — can turn things around in 4 years.
    I’ve listened to him speak for years and to Brown’s great credit, he was laying the cultural framework upon which everything would be built with suffering humiliatingly one the court, acquiring assets that fit directly into the future of basketball and his team. Will this be the similar story here shortly? I’m not so sure. As someone rightly pointed out, BB had 13 years understudying another brilliant mind.
    Did you know his team practices with a 4 point line? Learned that just 10 minutes ago.
    “Pace. Space. Passing. Off ball movement….”
    Might be possible Borek Dockal is better than the totem poles he is playing with?

    • The biggest difference – at least non-tactically – between Curtin and Brown is that Brown got his guys to totally buy in DESPITE losing. The entire organization was upfront about what was happening, Brown coached his butt off for three years, and he is reaping the benefits of being patient and pushing his guys during that crucial developmental phase. Curtin, from all that I read and see, is a good guy and seems to be liked by the players, but he seems to be liked as a friend and not as the person in charge. There is clearly no foundation laid, and if there was there would be marked improvement, even from veterans.

      • Brown also benefits from having a ton of insanely talented, like best in the world, high picks for a few years running and a max level shooter. Not that brown hasn’t done a good job but he sure wasn’t getting results when his talent level was garbage.

  2. Did anyone expect anything less from the fearless leader? Let’s try the same thing all over again.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Just once, I’d like to see Curtin less positive in his comments and put some of his underperforming players in the hot seat publicly. Turn up the heat on them. If they’re good enough, they’ll raise the level of their play. If not, you’re probably not going to succeed with them anyway.

    • Seems like Sarachin is just as surprised as we are that Curtin is a head coach in MLS.

  3. Curtin: “It’s not a must win, but it is a must win.” Also, “we haven’t scored goals but we need to score goals.” Of course “the players on the field haven’t been good, but they will be on the field anyway.” And my favorite “once we score the first goal, then we’ll get a second goal.”
    Such confidence, such leadership …

  4. “When asked if forward C.J. Sapong and winger David Accam, in particular, would benefit from a break, Curtin stated the change “needs to come on the field.””

    NOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo ooooooooooo oooooooo…oo..oo..o.o

  5. It’s almost comical anymore. Something embarrassing needs to come from the fans again. SOBs won’t do it. No one involved with the team will change. The fans need to push the envelope

  6. Can we just absolutely stop mentioning any Union players in the same sentence as the USMNT? “Trusty hasn’t featured “- just stop it. This is a kid with 6 starts at MLS. For the worst team in MLS. He’ll be lucky to ever play for the senior team. We’ve got some rose colored glasses on our own youth, but his ceiling is probably MLS quality. His reading of the game has been suspect and the only reason we’ve discussed his play as “good” is because of the crap play from the rest of the team. It’s not like he’s the top defender on this dumpster fire. If you back out the INTL CBs in MLS, there’s what, 30?35? Not even counting the ones mentioned who play overseas. Where is Trusty in that, 30th? 40th? Let’s see if he can not get beat like a drum for The Island of Misfit Toys before hyping him.

    • Nick Fishman says:

      I think it’s fair to say Trusty is on the national team radar. He’s prominently featured in every U.S. youth team and is only 19.

    • This is a bit off base and comes from anger about the team as a whole. Trusty is not some non prospect the U are propping up. He is a legit USYNT player and is rated highly by non-Union soccer folks. He featured for the US at multiple age grouos and started 40+ games in a pro league as a teenager.

      Yes we are jumping a gun a bit – there are currently better CB prospects other there (not many though), but you make it sound like he is some no name non prospect.

  7. Joel Pterosaur says:

    When an professional soccer coach utters the words “we hope” things will turn around… that’s when you lost me. You’re not paid to hope…you’re paid to know. To know where the problems are, and how fix it.

  8. Why do people care about press conferences?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Because this is a place to care about press conferences. Why do people struggle in recognizing this?

    • We can all recognize that ‘coach-speak’ is it’s own thing and generally looks to deflect pointed questions in any sport.
      There is still valuable information locked away in press conferences though, and deciphering them is half the fun.
      In the case of the Union, it’s just a time to rail on stupid quotes from an inadequate FO. We need to vent our frustrations somewhere…

      • Fair enough, I guess I get most of that. But people complain about the coach speak all the time like it matters at all and it’s just odd to me.

  9. Curtin has lost me … completely this time.
    Putting Sapong back out there … just give him 90 minutes off. Good form or poor form, players can use a mental break.
    Burke has better off the ball movement and goal scoring instincts.
    Why did I renew!?

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