Union vs. Chicago Fire Quote Sheet

QUOTE SHEET: #PHIvCHI

POST-MATCH QUOTES: Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire, 5.30.18

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin

Opening statement...

Overall not our sharpest night. I don’t think we had good rhythm in the first half especially in terms of passing. I thought we dribbled a lot when we should pass and passed when we should dribble. We were a little sloppy and a little bit off. Credit to Chicago, again they threw a, let’s call it unique, defending at us. It was basically man-to-man with all three of our midfielders and our front three. I think it threw guys off a little bit. Right before Ilsinho makes the play to score the goal, we talked about having a little more patience in our centerbacks, who they obviously let have the ball tonight. By making a little better and clear decisions when they move forward and it would take some beating someone on a 1v1 to open up the space and get an opportunity at goal. Ilsinho obviously makes a very special play, scores a goal, and goals change games and now Chicago had to change formations at halftime and we were able to get a little better rhythm. Should have been a comfortable game after we get the second goal but we made it interesting on ourselves and got a little casual and tuned out a little bit and got punished for it. Overall, you have to find ways to win the ugly ones as well and I think we are 3-0-1 in our last four and probably deserved three against [New York] Red Bulls. The guys our in good form, obviously we lose Mark [McKenzie] with a little bit of a knee and he will have an MRI and we will see how serious that is, hopefully not too serious. Proud of the guys in terms of fight and grit and effort but in terms of the quality of soccer we played tonight I thought it was our worst performance at home.

On the impact of Borek Dočkal and Ilsinho…

You have to find ways on nights when maybe you are not at your sharpest cause over 34 games, again with this busy schedule that we’ve had, I think that there is going to be an off night. It is disappointing that it comes at home but at the same time you need your best players to pull you out of those moments and Borek [Dočkal] set up two goals and scored a goal. Overall, for him he made some real difference-making plays. You can see his quality and his ability to pick out a cross. Obviously, good for Cory too to make a good, hard run into the box and get on the end of it. I’m happy with the goals that were scored scored and I think we earned all three of them. Again we’re disappointed, Earnie [Stewart] and I were just joking about it, as poor as we think we played we actually should have scored 5 or 6 goals tonight. There are still a lot of chances out there, hitting the post, the half chance with David [Accam]. We are getting a lot of good looks and again continue to grind. It is as mad as I have seen our team and our staff after a 3-1 victory, so maybe that’s a good thing.

On his reaction to Ilsinho’s goal…

Actually, I was not that surprised because you see it in training and you guys have heard me talk about the things he does in the training all the time that you can’t coach, you can’t teach. Certain guys are special in that regard. I wouldn’t know how to defend it because you know it’s coming, you know he is going to snake the ball through but he has an ability to get defenders body weight on the wrong foot and kind of make them look foolish to be honest. A special goal for a special player. He tends to score when he has family in town and that streak continues. He is a guy, when he is going good, not a lot of defenders want to deal with him. Credit to him because that is a big goal for us because again right before halftime where we did not play out best soccer still to go in 1-0 gives us momentum and most importantly makes Chicago have to change what they were doing enough a little bit. I think that was the turning point for the game.

On the decision to start Cory Burke…

If you think back to Cory’s performance against Montreal, only 60 minutes and then the red card but a goal. He was really good in that game. He has earned the opportunity to start. CJ [Sapong] has put a lot of minutes in and we ask him to do a ton of work defensively. The intensity and the heat at the Red Bull game led to the decision where we wanted to continue to maintain that pressure from our front three. We had a plan and Fafa [Picault] would have been in the starting lineup but he had a sickness and had to be withdrawn at the last second. The lineup changes, and you also prepare for Mo Adams or you don’t prepare for Mo Adams and he is in and then he is out. All these thing are fluid on the day but I think Cory has earned every minute he has got and when he gets out there you can see the pressure that he puts on the back four defensively and in his commitment to run and fight and to give everything for the badge. I think the fans see that and that’s a good thing. I can’t be more happy with his performances in minimal minutes he seems to impact every game that he has been in. I am really happy for him and CJ will get himself going again too. Again, we are happy with our strikers, our wingers and their ability to press. I thought Marcus [Epps] in a game even where he did not have a lot off the ball offensively still came in and gave us a lot of effort and work defensively. Overall, a good night in terms of the three points but we know there is a lot of things we need to clean up because if you play that way in Atlanta, it is not going to be pretty.

On if he had ever seen the tactics Chicago deployed…

In MLS no, but you have seen it if you watched the [CONCACAF] Champions League with Chivas in Mexico. The Argentine coach there [Matías Almeyda] who is a smart, sharp guy, they don’t do it in a one-off situation that is how they play. I talked with Jesse Marsch about how difficult it was to break that down, the different things that go into it, and how to get the spacing right, and guys can’t lose loose balls because you are not in a good spot when you turn it over. It frustrated us, but I still think it’s on us to be sharper with the ball. I know the quality we have in our group and maybe it made us panic a little, maybe our legs were a little heavy. I don’t think our guys would use it as an excuse but in terms of the uniqueness of it it’s a sweeper system with a pretty good player [Bastian Schweinsteiger] that can read the game behind it. Literally it is man to man. If Ale [Bedoya]or Borek [Dočkal] went to the sidelines [Tony] Tchani and others followed them to the sidelines. It is unique, I think it used to happen in the 70s but maybe it comes back because again all of this stuff is cyclical. Things change, formations change and credit to them. We saw it a little bit when they went to it a little bit last game but we did not think it would come again in our building and they used it, it disrupted us but the guys persevered and got the result. In terms of the uniqueness, it is not an easy one to prepare for.

On the team’s unbeaten streak…

Points are good, they’re important for sure to get ourselves back in, first of all to .500 which is important. We’ve worked very hard and the coaching staff has done a great job to dig ourselves out of the hole that we maybe put ourselves in. We still were playing some really good soccer but weren’t getting point, and then you look at a night like tonight where maybe it isn’t our best night but you take three; this is how seasons go. I think we’re now at least situated in a spot to push for a fifth or sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. I think that’s what we probably had, going into the season, realistically, when you look at what some other teams have in their group, that’s what we would be. Obviously we’re shooting to win the East, but we also recognize the quality that is in our conference this year. We’re in the mix in terms of that fifth or sixth spot, it’s going to be tight, it’s going to come down to where every point matters so you have to put a little bit of a run together. It’s great for the guys’ confidence; it’s a challenge to keep it going. We’re at Atlanta, then the Open Cup closing up before the World Cup against Toronto, who is also fighting for points.

On Jack Elliott’s substitution…

It’s awful for a center back to come in to a game at any time, ahead or behind. Nothing good can happen, so it’s actually the worst. I’ve experienced it, I hated coming in as a reserve and it’s tough. He had a moment where he lost track out on Gordon so we’ll watch the tape on that one, but it’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s never a position you really want to sub or change, usually your whole back line in a perfect world, but injuries happen and we’re forced to make that sub and forced to make the Ilsinho sub, so the plan changed quickly in terms of how we wanted to substitute, but it’s not easy for a centerback to come in cold in a tight game and kind of close it out. If you win, no one cares, no one really talks about you. If you lose, the spotlight points towards you as a centerback. Defensive subs, nothing really great can happen, unless you score.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Borek Dockal

On deciding who takes the penalty…

I just talked to Jim yesterday and he asked me if I can take the penalty if we are awarded one and I agreed.  I used to take the penalties in the past so I was okay with that.

On getting points in four straight…

Much better than to not be awarded any points.  I said a couple weeks ago that with better results you have confidence to keep winning games.  We are actually playing the same as we did at the beginning of the season but now we have better confidence and we are able to win games.

On the team’s crosses…

I actually don’t feel that we were very successful with that tonight.  But we scored a second goal from a cross after a great run by Cory which was important.  I think we conceded an easy goal so it was good to have two extra goals in the last couple of minutes.

On getting the goal before halftime…

In my opinion, it was a key moment for us to score in the last minute of the first half.  It always helps and especially in the MLS it opens the windows in the second half because they needed to change the way they played in the first half, which was difficult for us.  We felt like we could play much better in the second half and there was more space to combine with the ball.  I have not seen this in ten years but they actually played man-to-man defensively the whole first half so that was a surprise for me.

On if he feels fully acclimated…

Yes, I do.  I definitely feel that my performance and the team’s performance can be better.

On the Fire’s defensive strategy…

After the goal we scored, they had to change their formation and the way they play so that’s why I think the goal in the last minute of the first half was so important.   It was not easy to deal with that because we are not used to it and the three midfielders made it difficult for us to get on the ball.  They actually allowed our center defenders to play so we just talked about how to deal with that and how they had to drive the ball a little bit more to advance and then pass the ball wide.

Philadelphia Union forward Cory Burke

On his goal tonight…

It is always good to score goals. So whenever you score it’s a great moment. It is a good experience to score goals.

On him pressing the Chicago defense…

The energy is something I always bring. When I was playing in Jamaica, I always brought energy to press defenders and it’s something when defenders get nervous they throw away the ball, so I always press the defenders.

On playing against Bastian Schweinsteiger…

I have been watching him since I was younger. He has a very good technical ability and tons of experience, so next time I play against him I’ll do a better job. I thought I did well on tracking him.

On getting back into the starting lineup…

As I said before it is always good to score goals. Whenever you are scoring, it is easy for coaches to put you in the starting lineup. You know players like CJ Sapong and Jay Simpson; it is a challenge for me as a young player coming into the team. So that is my job to score goals. 

On the play that he scored his goal…

Well I know, Borek split some players and delivered a good ball for me to score. So I got to the find the space to receive that ball and he played me a beautiful ball and I gave him a beautiful goal to finish up the assist.

On what he has learned since his red card…

Yeah, it was good I could play on my feet.

Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic

Overall thoughts on not getting the result you wanted…

I mean, we always learn from games like this. Whenever you lose, win or tie, there are always positives and negatives to take away from each match. I think the team did well, our defensive shape was good in the first half. We started well in the second half. We had a good chance to create an opportunity on their end and then they strike back. At first, we were a little bit knocked down by that but then I think we had a good comeback with the goal. It was a great team play and finish by Alan [Gordon] that gave us more energy. We showed character, we fought a good comeback which we’ve done in the past, showing that the team is capable of doing that. If we didn’t concede the third goal, we would have had more options by the end of the game to tie the game. That was unfortunate but that’s the way the game goes sometimes

On missing Nemanja [Nikolic] tonight...

We never give excuses. Its always an opportunity for the next guy and we had a great converter today with Alan [Gordon]. Of course, Nemanja [Nikolic] is important like all other guys that are injured or out, but for us, it is always who is ready and who is available. We always give support and never give excuses.

On Alan [Gordon] playing big in big game…

He’s playing and handling his role very well and he is giving us everything that we expected. We are very happy with his performance on the field, but also the guidance he gives to the young players. A lot of the young players that we have in our locker room and on the field, so he is playing his role fantastically.

On things they need to fix for their two-game home stretch…

There are always mistakes in a game where we can have a little more awareness. Sometimes we need to rest our defense and sometimes being a little bit sharper especially when we create more opportunities having more clarity. Just always improving every detail of the game. The players go home after a game like this get the experience and they get better. You just have to emphasize all together as a big game as a whole.

Chicago Fire midfielder Mo Adams

On his rookie season…

I think from me personally I knew it was going to be tough to get minutes right away. I have to compete against the likes of Dax [McCarty] and Bastian [Schweinsteiger] at my position. I think bringing more quality to the team especially with my stuff bringing the athleticism and energy, but at the same time just about being patient and just eventually waiting for the right time. Eventually, my time would come. Once I made my debut against Red Bull I knew if I gave a good performance I could maintain my position in the team for sure.

On playing with Bastian [Schweinsteiger] and Dax [McCarty]…

I learn something new everyday. They are very good teammates and leaders they are always talking to me about things that I am doing well. I have been having a great relationship with both of those guys.

On what the team needs to do to bounce back…

These next few you are going to have to win now. Where Philadelphia is in the table, you want to just on top of them, but it was not meant to be tonight. You just got to focus on the next one. Just try to get back to work this week. The one thing I have realized as a rookie especially in this league is that things change really quickly and that anybody can beat anybody, so there is not reason we can’t win these stretch of games. 

Chicago Fire defender Brandon Vincent

On what the team needs to clean up…

We just have to take this game, learn from the mistakes we made, and look forward to a home game. We’ll analyze it, see what we did wrong and be better for it.

On the game…

We had some good chances, Philly had some good saves, so those fine lines make a difference.

On improving the team’s defense…

It’s tough to say. We try to stick to the game plan and it changes game by game, the strategy and the tactics so we’ll analyze it and see where we go from here.

On the team’s next game at home vs. San Jose…

We just need to win. It’s plain and simple. It doesn’t matter: pretty or ugly, whatever. We need three points at home.

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