Coach Jim Curtin took his weekly seat in front of a series of microphones to address the week that was and the week that will be in Philadelphia Union soccer. Below is the recap from this afternoon’s press conference. Questions in bold with Jim’s answers in regular type font.
Just a good run of games come to an end, didn’t give them our best, lost a lot of one on one duels. Did have a couple chances to punish them. Chris Pontius got in behind and then the two on one with Ilsinho and Fafa Picault that was cleared off the line. Disappointing from that standpoint, got a lot of points on a short amount of time. Looking forward to a bit of a break after playing a very dangerous side in New York City FC. Had a good practice with Bethlehem playing
Thoughts on Haris Medunjanin so far as well as his callup to Bosnia and Herzegovina National Team?
Great professional, will do anything for the badge. Is a guy who is now a big part of this team, not just for the goals and assists but for the leadership. We’ll comply with the National Team and release him for the dates but he won’t have to leave early so he’ll be available. He’s pretty excited to play against NYCFC.
Update on Josh Yaro?
Josh is cleared to play, went through the whole session pain free. Whether he plays with the first team or Bethlehem remains to be seen but there’s still some paperwork to be cleared but he’ll be available one way or the other.
Thoughts on Sebastian Giovinco getting snubbed from the Italian National Team because he plays in MLS?
It’ll take time, there’s still a part of the world that looks down on MLS. But as guys like Haris and Laurent Ciman and Gio come here and they go back and speak about what the league’s like and when Tranquillo Barnetta goes and talks about the league they have equity. It’ll take some time but it’ll be accelerated with teams like Atlanta and Almiron. Even in England you here guys say “your league is on TV more and getting more exposure” and they have scouts here. Will there be nay-sayers and Eurosnobs and doubters? Sure, but then there’s guys like David Villa, who is the best player the league has ever seen praising the league and playing every minute. The quality is getting better, the hotels, the travel and the stadiums and the atmosphere, it raises the bar. It’s really spreading quickly is the best way I can put it.
Marcus Epps getting time for the Union and your thoughts on his performance?
Really happy for Marcus. Told him to go out and be fearless and he did that. Made a few plays and got the end line and was dangerous. Set up a goal and scored a good goal as well. Has tons of potential and is a guy we are really high on. With an injury to Fabian he was able to come in and should get more and more minutes. The Derrick Joneses and Jack Elliots are working hard and going through their two a days.
Talk about recent back line changes and assess the recently conceded goals?
Always tough having to change guys on short rest. I tell the guys though its no surprise when we get in trouble is when we’re stretched out. You look at the RSL goal, we let a guy dribble 50, 60 yards uncontested and then the one-on-twos start to happen and we concede. Jack and Oguchi Onyewu have done a good job on that and it should be said Richie Marquez was a part of it too with the sickness so he was the odd man out. Richie will compete to start for sure, Josh will compete for that spot but the key for him is to stay healthy. Josh is in the early stages of a career and some are unlucky but the concussions are worrying.
Is it tricky to manage the profile or popularity of players as well as putting the hot hands in who are maybe performing better in training?
Not a name or popularity contest, it’s pro sports. It’s a heck of a second set of a back four but I wouldn’t read too much into it. When there is an injury or a call up or the Gold Cup we can pick our lineup accordingly. I do believe if you go through it now, we are closer to getting those two guys you trust at each spot. Those are good problems for those guys to have and even when I make a change or tweak and it’s tough trying to manage the minutes, that’s for sure. Giliano Wijnaldum got called upon which was a surprise and Keegan will get another shot for sure. Need everyone to step up and that’ll lead to clean sheets.
Thoughts on Ray Gaddis and Keegan Rosenberry?
Those are two guys that are MLS caliber. Keegan had a slow start but we have a congested schedule coming up, which means he should get some chances. Someone has to sit out at the end of the day.
Is there a better way to play the RSL goal?
If it winds up in the back of the net, there’s always a better way to play it. If you give Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino time one on one to take you on that’s dangerous. The two of them on the same side of the field is deadly. I think Gooch is right to step when he did but putting your body on a guy after they play the ball is crucial. The last part, if Ray just steps at the last moment and trusts the back line it’s offside. There’s a million things we can break down but from Fafa being at a jog because he’s tired to Fabi being too far up, It’s a laundry list of issues. It starts 75 yards away from goal. If there’s no pressure on the ball you give up goals. I don’t care if you are Barca and Juve, if you can’t get pressure to the ball you look like that.
Warren Creavalle coming in for Alejandro Bedoya, thoughts on his training?
He’s a guy similar to Ray in that he’s always ready for it. He puts everything into practice, his team always wins in practice. Covers as much ground as anyone, destroyer type midfielder where a lot of his stuff doesn’t show up in the score sheet but he does the dirty things really well. Closes up passing lanes, putting pressure on the ball, and is a guy who can start our attack. Haris is comfortable with him and the shorter field will be good for him (Warren) because there’s less room for NYCFC to hide.
Roland Alberg made Andrea Pirlo uncomfortable last year, what’s it like for Ilsinho to be opposite Pirlo this year and do you expect the same?
They’re probably the best team on the ball when they get going in the league. The kid (Alexander) Ring for me has been their best player this season. Cutting him out is a key, what we did at home against them, we made it very uncomfortable in the first 55-60 minutes. We didn’t punish them but we turned them over a lot. Obviously they play tonight so we hope it’ll be tough for them due to the early kick off and the heat, we hope they get leggy. Last time we handled it a certain way, but if you make it “they get a chance, we get a chance” we’ll lose. We have to be really disciplined to get a win. It’s probably safe to say Haris will be a little more advanced. Ale and him will split the load but with Warren being a stay at home type you’ll probably see Haris a bit farther up the field.
You had a college kid in training today, can you say who that was? Why was he here?
Trying to get people in trouble now? No, yeah, I’m kinda blanking on his name. Gallagher. Jon Gallagher. We brought him in and didn’t expect him to get that much time with the first team but with CJ Sapong possibly getting a toenail removed he got some time and looked really impressive. Anytime you have a draft coming up and can look at a guy in person you do it. Threw him in with the second group and he did really well and beat the team.
With Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita headed to the Costa Rica camp are you preparing for them or do you think or even do you know for sure if they’re gone?
It becomes a bit of a guessing game, as soon as it came out a couple weeks ago you kinda get into a “will they won’t they” kind of thing. Wallace is a handful and is playing as well as anybody in the league right now but they have a deep squad and have gotten contributions from everybody. You prepare for the best but if those guys aren’t around I won’t be upset.
With Derrick Jones playing so well for the USMNT U20s what makes him so composed and so gifted on the ball?
It’s probably a longer discussion about where he grew up and how he started playing. From four to five years old he’s on the street and it looks a lot different from anything you see around here on the Main Line in an organized league. It’s just a different upbringing for sure. He has a comfort level on the ball that’s unique and sometimes he’ll try to dribble through situations where I cringe on the sideline but the ball always squeezes out to him. He’s a guy where he goes into a tackle and the ball always comes out to his feat. There’s a few guys like that, N’Golo Kante in Chelsea and you can say that it’s luck but it isn’t. I’ve seen guys like that where it goes the other way. He was not eye to eye with me last year and now he is all the sudden. He’s filling out in terms of muscle as well. So what these foreign scouts and foreign teams see, all of 6’4” can break plays up, can tackle, he’s confident, he’s brave. He wasn’t nervous in Vancouver and wasn’t nervous against Toronto FC the next week. Derrick has turned a lot of heads but I think he’s disappointed he won’t be able to play in the biggest game so far in the tournament. Derrick’s been excellent for the US and it’s a dangerous team. I wish we had him but we aren’t surprised here at that at all.
There’s a lot of takeaways here from Jim’s presser (HARIS IS AVAILABLE) but is there anything that sticks out to you? Let us hear it in the comments!