Curtin's thoughts following CCL Semifinals

CCL SF at LAFC | Jim Curtin

Opening Statement

“First and foremost congratulations to LAFC and I wish them the best in the final. It’s a very strong team, very strong opponent and one where you have to be almost perfect to get a result and we’ve learned that through the years. To my players, thank you for everything they have given during this competition. To get to the final four of the best teams in this continent is an achievement but it doesn’t end the way we wanted it to end. At the same time we pushed LAFC in our building, pushed them in the first half with a couple good chances but against a great team like them you have to be clinical and you can’t make mistakes and you can’t play down a man because they’ll punish you.”

On playing down a man

“It is always going to be difficult at full strength and I thought we maybe picked up a silly first yellow card. In that instance when you know you are on a yellow, you have to be smart and when [Bouanga] is going to the sideline. I think Olivier in the first leg did the best job I’ve ever seen on Bouanga so far this season so when you lose him it will be harder. A team like them when they are up a man and the way they move the ball, it becomes very challenging. My players put a ton into it and created a couple half chances down a man and gave everything but you have to be perfect and cannot concede on set pieces to beat a team like this in a high stakes game.”

On the chances created in the series

“We created in our building especially a lot of chances. We have to be a little more ruthless in the final third and that is something that every team looks for. In certain moments of the season you have a streak where everything is going in the back of the net and then you have an instance like this where we had some good looks. If you think back to the first leg, Julian hits it off the post that in hindsight if they had VAR’d it would have been onside for a goal. Mikeal got in a couple times 1v1 against the goalkeeper in our building and Julian almost has a tap in. Tonight Daniel gets open at the back post and John McCarty makes a good save. Those are the moments and the margin is very thin when top teams get together and the stakes are high in the semifinal of the Champions League but we just didn’t get it done as a team.”

Jose Martinez’s impact with his absence

“He’s a big game player so obviously we missed him again it is about 11 players. When Murillo went out, I thought that was an opportunity for us since he is such a great center back and if the game went longer we could test their backline in his absence but we weren’t able to. Injuries are part of the game but we win as a team and lose as a team. Jose was missed but I think Leon stepped in as a No. 6 and did a great job for us and played an excellent game. We all have to be better as a team, a coaching staff and players in these big games. You cannot have mistakes and we had too many and LA punished us.”

On MLS getting to the CCL Final once again

“I have a lot of respect for what [LAFC] is about here and I have a ton of respect for what the Union are about. Two good clubs and one of us was going to get to the final and represent MLS. I think rivalries are healthy and we have a rivalry between [the Union] and [LAFC] but now there is a bigger rivalry which is MLS against Liga MX. You’re going to get a great final regardless if it is Tigres or Leon. We know LAFC will represent our league very well but we wish it was us that was going there but again they deserved to win on the night. It speaks to the growth of the league if you look at our staffs, all of our assistants can be head coaches. The game is growing in this country at a really quick rate and it is great Seattle won it previously and it gives us confidence as a league and I hope that LAFC goes on and wins.”

Decision to keep the back four when down to 10 men

“It was a tough scenario and to score against them is hard as it is and to go down a man we chose to stabilize the defense with a 4-4-1. From there we went into a version of a 4-3-2 where we could get Daniel a little bit higher to join Julian. When we brought on Quinn for Julian to get as many attackers onto the field we went into a 4-2-2. We went for it and we got punished. When you go down a man here, you’re not going to create a ton of chances so the few ones that you get like the half chance is all they’d give us.”

On more opportunities with future tournaments on the schedule

“Us and LAFC have played the most games in our league by quite a wide stretch and it is taxing and demanding. If you talk to Steve or myself and our owners at the club, these are the games we want to be a part of and play in. Yes only one team can win a series like this and it hurts but at the same time we are in and amongst the top teams on the continent. It does take a big toll out of the players and probably causes some points to be dropped and an injury or two. The reality is we don’t know what it will look like because this season does have even more competitions with Open Cup starting up now and the Leagues Cup along with the regular season and playoffs. It becomes really demanding on these players and you are seeing teams pick up little injuries here and there so again we want to get healthy and avoid that letdown. We have a strong enough group to do that but certainly pushing to get to a final takes a lot out of the guy’s legs with the travel to go along with it but we want to be a part of these games and want our club to be in Champions League.”