It’s time for the weekly press conference recap! Questions are by committee and in bold, with Coach Curtin’s answers coming after in normal typeface. Let’s just get into it shall we?
Any update on Jay Simpson?: Yeah, Jay is recovering pretty well, he took a pretty serious crack to his rib area and it was a bruised lung, not a cracked lung. Rushed to the hospital. He’s a tough kid, probably had another goal or two in him. Injuries are part of the game, he’ll have to recover. It’ll be close for the weekend. Not something that will keep him out long term but he was out with his kids in the snow and didn’t feel any pain, just short of breath. In our league to play the position he does and to have center backs hang on you we need him at 100%. Tough break after he got a goal at home but we’ll have to see what his status is. Realistically the weekend would be tough.
Changes on your end having to prepare for Giles Barnes instead of Kaka?: It’s a challenge. Obviously Kaka suffers a tough injury in the grand opening of their new stadium which was probably unfortunate for him. Giles came in and made an impact right away, had a great assist on a cross. Great dynamic of speed, and he’s at a new club so he’s looking to impress. They have a pretty potent attack. We played them in the preseason and it almost looked like a 4-2-4 with Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas up top and their wide guys free to move wherever. We’ll have to be really on our toes, nice and compact. Giles is a great weapon, Cyle is a great presence. Twelve yards in, there isn’t a better attacker in our league.
It looked like Derrick Jones took another step forward from game one to game two, how would you rate what he did?: I thought it was an excellent game. You talk to some of the people from Toronto after the game too. You step back because you don’t want just your own perspective because sometimes you see things how you want to see them. Talked to Greg Vanney and Tim Bezbatchenko and a few others and they go ‘wow he’s a man out there.’ He really left a good impression on them which is a compliment because he’s doing it against them. He’s not doing it against guys that are just players. He’s doing it against Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. Maybe it’s because he’s still a bit naive, but the key is to keep him grounded and work towards a good full first season. We don’t want to be in a situation where it’s too much too soon and it’s a thing where we think he is the next N’golo Kante from Chelsea, that’s not how we want to approach this. I think everyone on our team does well to aid Derrick and that’s a big part of why he’s in the position he’s in. I think Haris Medunjanin does a lot to calm him down, tells him where to be. Alejandro Bedoya in front of him helps him with making passes and positioning. It’s an exciting group. I think especially now where our fans can see what Derrick is really about. He’s an exciting player in a position where I think the work sometimes goes unnoticed. He’s doing it in a way where a lot of people are taking notice in a position that isn’t so glamorous. A lot of times a striker will stand out or a winger will stand out, certainly a number 10 and a center back that stands out is easy to see. For a box to box midfielder to stand out and to have people notice after two games I think says a lot about what he’s brought to the table.
What did you guys think out of CJ Sapong and is there an update on Ilsinho?: CJ and Jay and Charlie Davies even have all had a great preseason. There’s a lot of healthy competition and they all seem to get along really well which is a great first step and helps every coach. It was a decision based off of where we were playing and who we were playing. Thought Jay did well, we stuck with him but CJ came on and impacted the game right away. We want those guys to push each other and we are a team that knows we are going to get those guys service and balls in the box. Happy with where CJ is, we know what he’s all about and he gives it his all every day. He’s a winner, he’s been in this league a long time now and we expect him to compete. Obviously with Jay’s injury it’s a question mark, but it’s a seamless transition. (CJ) gives us a little more size up front and helps with hold up play. We’re completely comfortable with him jumping in if that’s the way it plays out. These guys have each other’s backs and that says a lot about the locker room of guys we have.
Ilsinho is training in full again and he’ll be available for the game in Orlando. It’s great to have him back, another weapon in our group and a guy who can really trouble defenders.
What’s it like playing in a brand new building like they have in Orlando?: Tough. When it was in the Citrus Bowl, everyone thinks about the happy, smiley, kid-friendly place. I can tell you the Orlando fans are an intimidating group. Nothing Mickey Mouse about their supporters groups. One of the few places I get a police escort in and out of the building, I’ll just put it that way. They’re in a new building now, you saw it week one on the TV. That doesn’t do justice to exactly how loud it is. I think though that sometimes it plays into the away team. You get right into the game because the atmosphere. You walk around the downtown and the whole place is purple, they have a real strong presence there. They’ve done some special things and we expect an intimidating environment but that can go both ways. I can definitely say from some of the things that have been yelled by the supporter’s group that it is not a nice place to go for an opposing team.