Press Conference

Jim Curtin’s reaction to a big win against Nashville SC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A gracious Jim Curtin addressed the assembled media after the Philadelphia Union defeated Nashville SC 2-1 at Geodis Park in Nashville, TN. Curtin opened his postgame press conference by praising his team for their character in securing a big win away from Subaru Park.

Union’s tactical approach against Nashville

“Obviously [we] started the game in a back three, just trying to neutralize a team in Nashville that is maybe struggling to create chances this season,” Curtin said of the tactical alignment to begin the match in a 3-5-2 formation and the strategy behind changing that formation in the second half. “Overall, [we] didn’t give up a lot. [The] second half came out with a little more life, made an adjustment or two.”

“Certainly the roles are clear for our guys [in the 4-4-2] because we’ve been really good at it for the last six years,” he added when questioned further about the 3-5-2 formation and the second-half transition to a 4-4-2 formation with the introduction of Alejandro Bedoya. “We know the spacing a little bit better. So, I would say, you know, both formations showed some good things. Certainly, the diamond is still our number one and it proved well tonight.”

Nashville midfielder Hani Mukhtar has already shown to be a danger this season and was to be a central focus of Curtin’s match-day approach. “Mukhtar is an MVP-type player.  And again, part of the reason we played with three center-backs is he doesn’t play as a true striker.”

“Surridge would be up there and Mukhtar comes off the back line. And our message was one of the three center backs go with him all the time,” Curtin continued.  “He’s the best player on the field. You know, he’s the guy who can win the game by himself. So that was the thinking of playing with our three great center backs that we have.”

How the Union have found victory this season

Curtin credited his players for fighting to the final whistle of every match and finding ways to turn draws into victories.

“Do we play perfect, beautiful soccer all the time? No, but at the same time, I think we do everything for the badge, for our fans, for the Philadelphia Union badge, and the city.”

Injury updates

Curtin was pressed about the injury status of Mikael Uhre and Andre Blake, providing the press poll with some updates:

“Mikael [Uhre] trained on Thursday. He has plantar fascia in his foot. It bothered him too much to train again on Friday, so he didn’t make the trip.”

“Andre [Blake] was cleared to play and trained on Friday. We were cautious with it [being a head injury] and wanted to be smart and not push too hard on that. So, [we] erred on safety, which I think was the right decision.”

Finally, he addressed the injury to Kai Wagner, stating it was a contact injury, with no twist or damage to the knee. Further describing it as “more of a bruise and kind of a dead leg, for lack of a better way to put it.”

The role Dániel Gazdag has played

Curtin had high praise for midfielder Dániel Gazdag and his role as a number 10.

“He is not the traditional number 10 who just plays one side of the ball, stands in the middle, and just looks to play through balls. He does it through work, he does it through volume, and if he messes up eight times, he’s going to come at you again the ninth time.”

Curtin further discussed Gazdag’s ability to make plays and get open at opportune moments.

“It’s like he goes invisible and people don’t see him because he gets wide open for a guy who isn’t the biggest presence and scores a lot of goals, whether it’s with his head, a ball that bounces to him — he just has a way of ghosting in there late into the box. And whether you look at his goals in Hungary, you look at his goals here with us — he has a real knack for that.”

He added that Gazdag’s style of play suits the Union’s own style and DNA.

The future of Julián Carranza

“I love Julián Carranza, not because he scores goals, but because he’s a great person,” Curtin said when asked about the future of his forward. “He’s really a humble kid, gets along with everybody in the locker room, but he’s also a killer, he’s nasty, he’s mean on the field, and he’ll do anything to score a goal and to help the team win.”

“As far as him being here, like I’ve said before, I want our best players to stay here forever,” Curtin said when asked about his future with the club. “I’m also not naive to know that a lot of clubs in Europe are going to come asking for him. All I can do is work with him as best I can, as long as I can, and he does the same.

“He’s going to give everything for this club, he’s going to give everything for the badge, he’s going to try and score as many goals as possible,” Curtin continued. “If you could mold the perfect Philadelphia Union striker, he is it”

The status of Andrew Rick

Union II goalkeeper Andrew Rick was signed to a short-term agreement ahead of Saturday’s match against Nashville.

When asked about Rick’s roster status and the rules surrounding MLS NEXT Pro signings, Curtin said they were comfortable with the decision, though acknowledged some frustration with how the rules are applied in situations related to injuries.

“I understand why they’re in place, so then teams couldn’t just have 40-man rosters, but in this instance, we’re not manipulating things at all — we have a goalkeeper on a concussion, so can’t we just call up one of our own and have it not be some penalty attached to it? It’s just unfortunate.”

“We’ll be smart about it,” he added about how the team will activate and utilize Rick moving forward. “We’re comfortable with Andrew. He’s doing great to get experience like this in a game where he didn’t have a ton to do — still playing in front of 30,000 people on the road…that’s part of development.”

“Now we have a little bit of a strange situation, where we’ll have to decide at what moment is right to have him still travel with us, or just trigger it, again, we’re comfortable with either.”

Remaining unbeaten

“As far as the undefeated thing, it’s nice, you know, we’re going to try and push it as long as we can,” Curtin said in response to a question about being the last undefeated team in MLS. “I have given some incentive to the guys in this two-game stretch here before we get a week where we have a little bit of a bye.”

“Players are motivated by very simple, simple things,” he added. “Before it’s been pizza and beer for three consecutive shutouts with us, this time…I said for each win I’ll give [the team] a day off — an additional day off. I think that they’re motivated by that.”

“We’ll try and push the unbeaten streak as long as possible,” Curtin ended.


  1. Steve Orourke says:

    Great work!

  2. Always good to hear the coaches thoughts on the game. Also the injury situation is good to hear an update on. Thanks for the good work!!

  3. I am happy that the Union do not have mid-week games for awhile. Though I wanted them to succeed in CCC (Concacaf Champions Cup), it put a lot of pressure on the team to play so many games so early in the season. If the Union win the Supporters Shield this year, perhaps we should thank Pachuca (although the away leg was extremely difficult to watch). On the plus side, Curtin has been able to rotate his players, and they mostly have done well in their roles.

  4. Bev Debel says:

    Greg Schoen should spell Jim Curtin’s name correctly. He’s not a curtain. Sad that a professional sports writer doesn’t know how to spell.

    • Blake Zuschnitt says:

      Thanks for pointing that out! It has been updated.

      Just to clarify, this site is mostly volunteer writers who have a passion for the game in Philadelphia and commit their spare time to it. That passion is what keeps sites like this one alive. We appreciate your readership.

    • Hey Bev.
      As the Beastie Boys sing it… Lighten Up.
      An important correction nonetheless.
      Keep them coming Blake.

    • Matt Custer says:

      No excuses but perhaps an explanation: all of us, including major newspapers, wage a running battle against Spellcheck every day. Sometimes we don’t win and frankly, JC’s last name is easy prey for the correction monster. Here at PSP, we pride ourselves as providers of professional – level online journalism, but no one here earns a dime, a gilder or a farthing for what we do, and we like it that way. We are amateurs in the best and classical definition of the word: we do this for the love of the game and all things Philly Soccer. I’m personally proud of the content, warts and all, but most of all I’m proud and thankful for the fantastic volunteers who have stepped forward to save this website. We pledge our best efforts for our readers, we’ll fight the good fight against the Spellcheck beast and hope you keep reading and commenting. Keep the faith. Doop. (BTW, Spellcheck even tries to correct “Doop”).

      • A further point.
        Because this website accepts no advertising, none of its writers have to think about selling anything, either third party products or site subscriptions.

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