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Presser notes: Jim Curtin 2/23

Coach Curtin gives his weekly presser just ahead of the MLS regular season

New England Revolution v Philadelphia Union Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin gave his usual weekly press conference as always presser questions are given by committee and I’ll try and denote who I can by name and outlet. Questions asked will be in bold

Opening statement:

Just to rewind back to last night, Montreal is a very strong opponent, in a lot of ways good for us. Similar to Vancouver that they’ve got a lot of speed down the field and can counter attack. Happy from the standpoint of the first 60 minutes in that we kept a clean sheet and scored a good goal. Was happy with how the back line played, gave a lot of possession away the first 25 minutes but settled down and did well after that.

I thought in the second group Epps had a good performance and overall happy with the progress of the team. I thought we gained a lot of fitness from the game and we did well with two of the best center backs on the team. Thought in the last 25 minutes we did well and adjusted to the tempo.

Kevin Kinkead (Philly Voice): Fafa getting around on crutches, anything happen to him?

Yeah it was a weird one, he’s been slated to start the last two games (Tampa and Mtl) he woke up on the morning of the game with a bone spur in his big toe. Crutches precautionary, getting a picture taken tomorrow. Unfortunate timing because he brings a lot of pace and has been really good in training. It’s been tough but I’m very high on Fafa

Evan Villella (Brotherly Game): Basically a starting XI minus Pontius. The addition of Derrick Jones indication that he won the starting spot?

I think he’s (Derrick Jones) working to the starting spot. We haven’t decided that. We have used Roland (Alberg) and Warren (Creavalle) there. Good opportunity for Jonesy to get an opportunity and it wasn’t his best game, wasn’t his worst game, it’s somewhere in the middle. He belongs in the league and is making it hard for us to pick. He’s in the discussion for sure.

KK: Any injury to Pontius that’s resulted in him not being used?

If you remember he actually picked up a knock in the Jamaica game when he ran into Cory Burke. We will obviously look to push him now against DC United but he was feeling his hamstring before Mtl. Knowing his body as well as he does, he doesn’t want to push it.

Adam (Philly Soccer Page): Haris Medunjanin lying deeper, thoughts on not having Alejandro Bedoya right beside him and playing him at the 10 instead?

Thinking was put Haris (Medunjanin) for 45 in the 8 spot. Ale certainly did a lot of running at the 10 and we can always work on our pressure but with the Impact center backs who can both really play out from the back. It won’t always work like that in MLS which is nice. Ale and Haris together you certainly have more possession. It’s the position that he likes to play and the position that USMNT coach Bruce Arena sees him at. We have to deal with depth but we are still trying to find balance between attacking and defending in the midfield. The way we play is a demanding style and we are trying to make sure everyone can run.

Adam: Haris getting ball deep against Montreal. Struggle to get him involved. Happy with where he was receiving the ball?

I think it’s a bit of a balance. Thought Montreal did a good job of immediately pressing us when we got the ball. It doesn’t really matter where he got the ball and he’s done well to get balls over the top and make those easy. The first twenty minutes we didn’t do a good job of getting him the ball where I would like him to get it. In terms of an exercise where we have to adjust and have other guys take a different role. Ilsinho did a good job with cutting inside and taking his shots and Herbers got going eventually.

Richie talked about wanting to be vocal leader of the team, have you seen that at all?

Richie’s been excellent. He’s a guy who flies under the radar for us but I never have to worry about his work ethic and tell him “hey you need to do more in training.” When I don’t have to bring him up when we’re watching film or talk about him much to you guys that’s great. He realizes that he is a starter in MLS and a real competitor and you can start to see that. He’s opening his mouth in training more and will call out guys when he doesn’t think they’re challenging themselves.

Matt DeGeorge (Delco Times): Fabinho starting at left back, Giliano been adjusting well so far?

Fabinho is the starter right now. Giliano’s adjustment is improving every day, but there is an acclimation phase when you come to the league. I think he’ll get to the point where he pushes Fabi a little more and Fabinho has been sharp himself, so we will have to wait and see.

KK: Guys turning off in restarts? Worried about keeping focus in full 90?

Obviously you want to be focused for 90 minutes and we’ve made a point to look at when the opposition has a throw in in their defensive half and the idea is to win the ball as quickly as possible. We fell asleep on one against Orlando which was unfortunate but the message is that it’s much better to be focused on the five seconds before the throw than allowing an easy backwards throw and running 60 or 70 yards. We’ve talked about Spurs and their ability to run and press and we want to replicate that. We aren’t there yet but we’re getting there.

KK: Takeaway from Vancouver vs. New York Red Bull Champions League Match?

Author’s note: Vancouver was in Harrison for a CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against Red Bull. Both teams played a hybrid starting XI/USL squad. The final was a 1-1 draw.

Watched it this morning. Vancouver has a ton of speed. Mattocks and Hurtado have a lot of ability to get in behind. RB had a lot of the ball and Vancouver will probably look different at home. They have a lot of injuries right now which helps us in a way. They will have the advantage of having two live action games before us but hopefuly there’s some tired legs on a quick turnaround as they play on Thursday (March 2 against Red Bull) and then Sunday. The initial thing that stands out though is their speed on the break.

Thoughts on Coach Curtin’s press conference? Who do you think the Starting XI this year is? Let us know in the comments.