jim curtin open cup press

Weekly Press Conference Transcript: Aug. 5

Union head coach Jim Curtin

Opening Statement

Just to reflect back on New York, not a result that we wanted. Thought we had good moments in  the game, it’s funny the way it goes with our games against Red Bull and they said it as well in the two games that they dominated play and we win both of those, then in this one I thought we had the better of the play and they came out with three points, so difficult but we have to move on. We have Orlando coming in, a good team that scored five goals (versus Columbus). We’ll take a look at their game tonight against Toronto. They’re banged up but so are we. It’ll be two teams that are fighting for points and trying to get into the playoffs. As an Eastern Conference game, it’s big and obviously we have an eye on Chicago and our Open Cup semifinal at home. Again, our fans were amazing on the weekend. Everyone was disappointed that we let them down especially after we pushed to tie the score up and give up one quickly was devastating. But at the same time we have to pick ourselves up and know that we have two big games.

On the team defense

We conceded, obviously, way too many goals. Even in what was a decent team defensive performance we limited a very good Red Bull team to four looks at goal and they come away with three. The chances we give up are in extremely dangerous areas and in every situation we have enough bodies back to prevent the goal. You look at the video and we have five guys to their two or four to their three so we have enough bodies in there. It just comes down to making a play. Obviously we’re not happy with how we’ve defended as a team this year, especially at home. To give up three goals at home is never acceptable and it’s something we’re working towards fixing. Again we’re not happy.

On potential personnel changes in the back

We have three games coming up in the week and we’ll take a look at obviously Orlando first and foremost and the importance of that game on the road, what that game will take. But yeah, you could see some changes to the back line possibly due to injury. Mo has a bit of a groin issue. It’s a scary one: the MRI came back and he has a little bit of an issue there so we’ll see if he’s able to push through and play through but we obviously have a big game on Wednesday against Chicago in the Open Cup semifinal so we have to be smart with how we manage it and put a team on the field that can get points against Orlando and then obviously win in a game of consequence as it’s called where it’s win or go home.

On Richie Marquez’s recovery

Good: Richie’s ready to go which is a positive and gives us a real aerial presence. He’s a guy who wins things in the air. You look at the last two games we’ve lost and missed on that, particularly DC with the amount of crosses that got put into the box. To have a guy that attacks the ball well will help, so Richie has responded well to the ankle and looks good.

On Steven Vitoria’s return to fitness

Steven’s pushing to get back into the lineup. He’s a competitor and had a difficult one with the injury. At a time when as a team we aren’t playing well defensively. He’s fought his way back, had a good week of training and we’ll see what the paring is. We have some decisions to make, anytime you give up the amount of goals we have we’re not happy. There could be some tweaks and changes.

On Steven’s potential to influence games in an injury-riddled season

Yeah he definitely has the potential. He’s been at big clubs and he’s gotten a better understanding of the league, the differences this league has as opposed to Europe, dealing with the athletic players and the speed of things. He’s adapted slowly to it, doing a good job winning the ball and attacking the ball. He’s starting show in training now, getting back into the form he was in in preseason. Again injuries are tough, he’s bouncing back from that: a guy that I believe in and a guy that contribute this weekend.

Brian Sylvestre’s injury status

The hand is still swollen. It’ll be close to Saturday and we’re making a decision there. There have been five stitches that have been done two times now so there’s some swelling in the area. And obviously an injury to the hand for a goalkeeper is tricky. I think he could tolerate the pain and we’ll see and obviously Thursday and Friday will be important in deciding his status for the weekend.

On the goalkeeping depth chart

John has done a good job. If you look at the weekend I don’t think any of the goals, maybe the pk he would tell you because he’s hard on himself if he leaves his foot but it just kind of bounced under. It was a tough one but the other goals: one’s a bang-bang play and on the other we’re pushing a ton of numbers and leaving ourselves exposed to a one v. one. John’s been great lately, obviously the Open Cup is a factor on Wednesday knowing that he will be the starter in that one. You could look at Orlando as a chance to stay sharp on Wednesday depending on where Sylvestre. As of right now John will be our starter of Brian can’t go.

On Andre Blake’s injury status

Andre continues to do better in training. He’s a guy who we hoped would get some good minutes at the Gold Cup. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. He continues to get better in training each day and with the way things have gone he would be behind Johnny but he’s pushing.

On the added scrutiny to Ray Gaddis’s play

Ray is a top 1-v-1 defender in our league. Yeah he had a tough one with (Shaun) Wright-Phillips on that one. We talked about it: it’s in the game that he dealt with three guys. He had Grella first then he dealt with Lloyd Sam and also saw Wright-Phillips so he saw three different guys with differing skill-sets. On the goal Ray actually gets his foot on the ball. It’s one of those where if it hits his toe the ball probably goes far enough that the play is over, but all things being as they are the ball bounces right into Wright-Phillips’s stride and he makes a good play on it. That’s the life of a defender: you can be good for 89 minutes as Ray was against New York but one play is what everybody will remember. It’s kind of like being a defensive back in football, you have to have a short term memory. Ray’s a winner, a guy I believe in. He’s a very good right back. Obviously the timing of Sheanon leaving and Ray not having his two best games isn’t great but I don’t think there’s anything to it. I think he’ll bounce back and he’s a guy who I believe in.

On going up against Cyle Larin

It’s a tough task. He’s a confident forward and confident forwards are tough to deal with. They put up five goals obviously against a very good Columbus team, a lot of them on headers inside the penalty area, something we’ll have to work on this week. In the box he’s a lively, young, confident, attacking player who’s living up to the number one pick. He’s done well with it and is scoring some goals. They also have Kaká, who’s a very good set-up man, a guy we’ll have to locate, especially in transition. That’s a tough place to go and play. Everyone who’s been there already has given me lots of insight on how good their crowd is, how the turf field and heat are factors. I looked at the forecast and for Orlando in August it’s not too bad. I think the high is 88 and you could catch a lot worse down there. It’ll be a difficult road game. It’s the first time down there in the club’s history so to go down there and get points would be special.

On the Open Cup draw

Yeah I just got word on it. Not perfect but it’s positive. We have a good opportunity if we take care of business against Chicago to host the final here at PPL again. Being one game away from a final is an important step to this club and winning these big games of consequence is important for any new club. To get the first trophy is the hardest thing to do and it’s something that we have unfinished business with. That’s kind of been our mantra the whole way through. Every game seems to go to overtime and we’ve gone through a lot of adversity but guys have rose to the occasion and it’s a tribute to them: the 7-1 record we have in the Open Cup over the last two years. The draw is a good one and hopefully both team’s will take care of business. To go to Salt Lake is tough.

On Tranquillo Barnetta’s status

We’re not saving him. To his credit he could have come in here in a spot where he said coach I’m not ready yet but he wanted to help the team in any way possible. He’s a guy who’s in his preseason though, so you have to manage it and he’s pushed through some difficult sessions and he’s really gaining fitness and sharpness so it’s exciting to watch him get better and give the guy a lot of credit to be a guy who wants to get out right on the field and contribute. So I’m happy right now and again I think there’s going to be a lot of positives in the future.

On the team’s mindset despite being in last place

Like of said to you guys before the table doesn’t lie after 34 games it tells a true story. Has there been adversity? Yeah but every team has adversity. We’ve had some really good moments: you think of the way we played against Portland, the 3-0 game against Columbus, the rollercoaster of every time we seem to take a big step forward and look like a team that’s going to make a statement we follow it up with a disappointing loss and take two steps backwards. Again the consistency hasn’t been there. I still believe in the group. The group still fights their butts off for me, the fans and the city but we’ve come up short in a lot of ways and we do see where we are in the standings. It can change quickly if you can get on a two game winning streak in this league it goes a long way, but we are realists. We’re running out of games with 11 left, just under a third of the season. Every point matters right now but yeah nobody’s happy with how the season has gone. It’s very disappointing in a lot of ways.

On the health of Andrew Wenger and Michael Lahoud

Andrew still has symptoms from the concussion against Toronto. It’s been a while so it’s getting a little concerning. We thought he was going to take the next step and be cleared this wek but that is not the case. Lahoud has trained very well in the past two days that I would call high-intensity very hard days and he’s responded well so Michael is available for Orlando which is a very good thing: a guy who can play a lot of different spots and can help us.

On any potential transfers before the window closes

Yeah we’re still looking. It always goes down to the wire: there’s different scenarios that come up, teams are very active right now, good foreign players are being signed, good American players are being looked at so we’ll see what the next couple of days hold. We’re still looking to upgrade our roster. It’s a team where we know we have a good core, a group that is committed and will fight but we do need to add a little bit of quality, that extra bit that makes you the special plays at the end of the game, the Sacha Kljestans where you keep them quiet but then you look up and he has a goal and an assist. So those are the difference makers and we’ll look to see if we can add something like that.

Sebastien Le Toux, Midfielder

On how they turn it around after three losses in a row

It’s a tough time right now for us. Like you said, losing three in a row is never easy. We have to forget about this and kind of just play game after game and try to win the most we can to have the possibility to make the playoffs. Its not easy but we are professional and make sure we walk out there like the game we did before because even if we play well sometimes we don’t get the result. I think that too many goals so we have to get back to the basics first and make sure we stay solid defensively t always have to score one goal like we did in the past game.

On if he feels better personally about his play

Yeah I mean its good to score for me but I just want to win. Like I told you already, if I don’t score and we win, it doesn’t matter to me so scoring is good but to score and win games would be even better.

On scoring his 50th goal

Yeah, some people tweeted me about it a few times. It’s not what I’m looking for. It’s nice to get 50 goals of course. As an offensive player you always want to be part of the finishing when you score but its nice and I just want to win something with this team and make the playoffs and as of right now we are a bit farther from that so it’s a bit, not really what I’m thinking right now. It’s not about the goals, its about making the playoffs.

On how they prepare for Orlando since they have a mid-week game

I mean, it’s a very good team. They play at home, they play on turf, we’re not used to the surface so it’s going to be a hard game. They just got a win against Columbus 5-2 at home so they play well. They have some good offensive players with lots of confidence right now so we are going to make sure we, like I said before, I think defensively play well together as a team. We know we can score goals. We already create a lot of times in DC last week, we score against New York but it was not enough because they scored three. I think we have to stop being too nice defensively and stay solid and not give up any goals so that I think we can score on the counterattack and go win but Orlando is a good team and we are looking to a have a not easy game over there. No game is going to be easy for the rest of the year because everyone is fighting for the playoffs. It’s going to be a big battle over there.

On if its more important because they’re Eastern Conference games

Of course, It’s a six-point game almost every time you play against an Eastern team right now so every game is important. We have maybe just one game against Western teams, San Jose, maybe Houston so two games, but every game is a six point game for us. Its our first game against Orlando, we play them again at the end of the year so a win against them can direct us to the last playoff place or even the fifth spot so we have to make sure we win this game.

On filling Nogueira’s absence

Yeah, Vince, like you said, is one of our best players in the team. He has his position, he’s always calm on the ball, he gives us lots of life. In the Open Cup he had a great game, I think playing 120 minutes being on the field and playing hard with the heat, maybe he’s not used to it and it could cause his injury but it’s a big miss. It’s hard to play without him because he kind of helps our midfield to be more high skill, playing well with the ball, kind of get a lot of counterattacks because he always has a good position to anticipate the pass and kind of get forward for us so he’s going to be missed and we missed him already since two games. But it’s a part of being in a tam, you have to play sometimes without some of your best players and right now that is the case so some people have to step up and make sure that we play better even if he is not here.

On finishing in last place at the end of the weekend

I mean, we are watching the standings and we can see we are last so it doesn’t mean that we are happy. Nobody is happy, we never want to be last but there are still a few games. We don’t point that out because we try to be more positive and try not to get out of it as a team and stay focused on Orlando and get a win. I think after three weeks, we win the next three games then we have another discussion with us and we are talking about maybe making the playoffs but now its on us and we have to react. What happened is hard but we have to react and move on. It’s a part of this game and some people are first and some people are last and we are last right now. We have to have a good reaction on this.

On if he saw the Open Cup draw

No, I did not see it. First we have to win against Chicago at home so while we are going to think about next Wednesday, all of us are trying to think about Orlando and its what we are focusing on. The Open Cup, I think it’s a big thing and an opportunity to get a trophy but playing at home or away you have to beat everybody. We did it before at New York, we did it last year in Dallas, so it we beat Chicago we’ll be ready for a challenge in Salt Lake or Kansas City.

On nearing the 50 goal, 50 assist milestone and if he thinks about it

I mean, I think it’s a great achievement personally to be at 50-50 in this league, even if its not a long time that this league exists but if we talk about me as a 50-50 player and people think that it’s a big deal and maybe if he was a Landon Donovan or a big player in this league, people will consider me as a big player so I just try to do the most which is just play hard for my team and try to be at my best every time. And if I get a goal or an assist its what matters to me but Like I said, the most important is to win and have people happy at the end of the year when you have a trophy or have a good season. It’s nice but at the end its just a thing for you to talk about, the media, and you are going to put in the paper ‘oh my god he is so good because he did this’ or ‘he’s so bad because he missed a pass’ or something. You can be the best player one day and the worst player the next so at the end take what people think. I know what I can do and I’m proud of scoring goals and getting assists but its just a little thing for people to talk about. I think I will look at it after my career when I will be a 50 year-old and I will say ‘I did this in my career’ but now I just want to play and win for lots of years and I think I can still do that.

Download the FREE MLS App

Follow the Union's scores, updates, highlights, analysis and more.