The Philadelphia Union held a press conference today, with Jim Curtin on the phone from Clearwater answering questions from the media (who were presumably not in sunny Florida). Here's the rundown of what we learned:
- Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Ilsinho has impressed the staff not only with his play on the field, but his ability to integrate with his teammates as well. We should get another look at him in tomorrow's friendly against the Chicago Fire.
- Nigerien striker Moussa Maâzou is no longer on trial with the club and has left.
- New acquisition Roland Alberg is fitting in well, however has returned to the Netherlands to finalize paperwork for his move. He will not be with the team during tomorrow's friendly. Curtin said that he sees Alberg as more of a number 10 than a winger, which makes the midfield picture a bit murky.
- Maurice Edu is not with the team in Florida. He is still in the Philadelphia area rehabbing from his sports hernia. He's expected to rejoin the team during the second phase of the preseason - the Tampa Bay Rowdies Suncoast Invitational.
- We've all heard the goalkeeper jokes, but the Matt Jones signing makes a lot of sense. Andre Blake is still the clear number one, and Jones and John McCarthy will battle it out for the number two spot. Curtin said that McCarthy has been sharp in camp, and that he and Jones will most likely get minutes with Bethlehem Steel FC during the season. Curtin also said that he'll decide who to play when Andre Blake goes out with Jamaica on international duty when that time comes.
- Curtin said he was "happy to lock (CJ Sapong) in for a little while" on his three-year contract extension. CJ seems confident, and that "confidence goes a long way with a striker." He went on to say that Sapong wanted to be in Philadelphia.
- One of the most profound quotes of the press conference came from Curtin when describing his relationship with Sporting Director Earnie Stewart.
"He has provided clarity. There are no gray areas at the Union any more." - Jim Curtin
- Curtin then went on to describe the system the Union are running as a 4-2-3-1, which makes sense for how the lineup is taking shape. As Matt De George of the Delco Times pointed out:
That may be the most concrete statement Curtin has ever made about "system" https://t.co/N4Gudk461M— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) February 10, 2016
- Curtin said that the forward depth was currently Sapong and Fabian Herbers. He seemed pretty happy with the strikers, however didn't rule out the possibility of adding another striker if the opportunity presented itself.
- Yosef Samuel will also miss tomorrow's friendly with a groin injury. It didn't seem terribly serious, but they were holding him out of the match as a precaution.
- Curtin said that in the camp there had been "a lot of intense battles. Lots of competition." He pointed out that it was all healthy, and brought up the fight for center back spots, saying that Richie Marquez, Anderson Conceicao, Josh Yaro, and Ken Tribbett were all fighting for starting jobs. He praised Tribbett for impressing the staff. Again from Matthew De George:
Tribbett is under contract with Bethlehem Steel, decent candidate for a flexiblity spot up and down when needed.— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) February 10, 2016