Jim Curtin spoke to the press today before his team welcomes defending MLS champion Toronto FC to Talen Energy Stadium. Here are some key points the coach made.
Bedoya will not be available
Curtin spoke candidly about the process of finding out Union captain Ale Bedoya would be suspended for Friday’s match following the red card he received against Atlanta United FC.
“We will lose our captain,” Curtin said. “...Ale was issued a second yellow card for what was described as "dissent by word or action." That is a referee blurb in the report. Further in the report it says that Ale was dismissed for dissent by word. Ale is adamant that he did not speak to the referee in this instance. I believe Ale Bedoya. I trust Ale Bedoya. There was a case and obviously we appealed it. A case was put forward with video evidence, attempted to get a third party to contribute to it, a member of Atlanta. For obvious reasons, that was close to happen but it didn't happen because there are long term effects of potentially seeing referees in the future, so I understand from that regard.
Continuing, Curtin was adamant that the record reflect Bedoya’s side of the incident.
“Now, as you look forward and you dig deeper and you hear that the referee in question said that Ale called him a F-word and called him a cheat,” the Union coach stated. “When that got back to Ale, he completely says that is false. Again, I think there's some misinformation out there and people say ‘Yes, he is in violation for the action of stepping in and delaying the restart’.
“Is it ridiculous to give a second yellow card for that? Absolutely. But if it was deemed for stepping in and delaying the restart, I could live with it because, yes, that is what he did. He did delay a restart, like a veteran would. But to call Ale's character under question I think is wrong.
“We still went through with the appeal process because it's important to have the backs of our players,” Curtin said. “And now when we look back on it, it's a scenario where, listen, we told the truth. I sleep well at night, I know Ale Bedoya sleeps well at night, and you can question how other people sleep. That's not for me to comment on, I don't know that answer.”
Home field will help
Looking ahead to Toronto, Curtin said the team will lean on its depth against the struggling champs. “A difficult task in a Toronto team coming in that isn't where they want to be in the table after an amazing [CONCACAF] Champions League run,” Curtin said. “Still an incredibly talented group, one that we will have to execute and be up to the task of playing at our highest level.
“And obviously it starts with Giovinco and Michael Bradley and doing our best to contain their best players. We create chances at home. I think our record in our last 20 games here in Talen Energy is 14-2-4. That's a pretty solid record. So we're confident when we're in this building, we need to keep that going, and again, execute, and everybody do their job.
“I think the Open Cup showed our depth, so we're going to call upon some guys to step in and do a job against a really good opponent in Toronto. Next man up mentality again, and I'm confident our group will put on a good performance.”
Anything can happen in the playoffs
With the club just outside the playoff picture, Curtin looked back at some points dropped in past games but said the Union would continue to believe in their ability to execute a long-term plan.
“We set out, with Earnie [Stewart], with myself, with Richie Graham, with Jay Sugarman, Chris Albright, and Tommy Wilson, we set out to put together a plan that had a greater emphasis on playing young players. We've checked that box and done a good job getting them minutes,” Curtin reminded the assembled media.
“We set out to put out a competitive team, a playoff team. Realistically, do we know it's going difficult? Atlanta, Toronto -- I know Toronto's lower in the table -- New York City FC, the money that Red Bull is now starting to put into things, it's going to be challenging, it would take a very good season to get into that four seed and host a playoff spot,” he continued. “So realistically, 5-6 [seed], we're chasing after that. But to get ourselves to .500 is important. We've left a couple points on the table that I think we're mad about -- Red Bull, we played a really good game -- but the group is confident right now. Maybe that's most important is how we are playing now as a team. Finding ways to get results. And if we can get ourselves to .500 going into the break, you're in striking distance in this league to get into the playoffs. And once you get into the playoffs, you've seen how that can go. Anything can happen.”