Union vs. Orlando City SC Quote Sheet

QUOTE SHEET: Union vs. Orlando City SC

POST-MATCH QUOTES: Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC, 2018 USOC Quarterfinals, 7.18.18

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin

Opening statement…

To reflect on the ninety minutes, I thought the first forty-five was excellent. I thought we controlled tempo, created chances, kind of had Orlando pinned back quite a bit. We did not get that second goal that we have talked about before and we kind of give them a life to start the second half. A lot of credit to the guys for sticking together. I thought we were organized. In a night where we were not our sharpest in front of goal, having scored an early goal which usually leads them to having more possession. I thought that are back four was excellent. I thought that Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty are playing well beyond their years. You are starting to see them now advance the ball through midfield on the dribble, play through the lines, and they are really a solid partnership back there. Again, Dom Dwyer is not an easy guy to deal with for ninety minutes. I thought they did an excellent job. I do have to say to credit to my staff that, again in these short weeks on Wednesday’s it is difficult to prepare teams for these games. In four years of this competition with this group, we have not been beaten in regulation. I think that we are a tough out in this competition. We take the U.S. Open Cup very seriously. The players deserve a ton of credit for their ability now to raise their level in these elimination type games. I am really proud of the group, the staff, and everyone at the club because it is not easy to get to a semifinal of a competition. I think it is a big step for us. Now, we sit and wait. Hopefully, we get another couple home games and maybe get a break in that regard, but again two wins away from lifting our first trophy as a club.

On Mark McKenzie’s performance…

He was a beast. His ability to not just dominate physically whether it is in the air, in duals, or in one v. one’s, but also what gets Earnie [Stewart] and I excited is how good he was with the ball. He played through the lines and played passes that eliminate five or six defenders at a time. I think he had one mistake maybe with the ball. We will still pick on him and be hard on him because we want him to get better, but really happy with his growth. He did have a tough game or two as any young center back is going to have. He will run into a Sebastian [Giovinco] or Josef [Martinez] week after week there is going to be tough moments for you. He has responded very well and that is the sign of a good defender. You have to have short-term memory in this league as a defender because the attackers are so talented you are eventually going to get beat and I think he has had a great response and has played very well in these recent games. It is a big reason why we get a shutout tonight.

On Fafa Picault breaking out

I still like all of his performances. What he does to a defense, the way he affects them, and his work rate. He must have covered the most ground tonight on terms of being on the left side and then popping up on the right. At the end of the game to make a play doing all of the little things. Obviously, everyone on the team wants him to be rewarded with a goal. He probably deserved a goal tonight, but you cannot fault his work rate and how selfless he was for the team. I think he did a good job at putting crosses in dangerous areas. It would have been nice to get a second goal, but I think he played very well tonight.

On seeing the game out…

It was critical. They had a group that some played ninety minutes against Toronto in a hard fought game. Some fresh faces that did not have ninety minutes in their legs yet this year. We knew our fitness would play a big role over the course of ninety minutes. In the last ten minutes, we looked like ourselves again and kind of controlled things and made them run and chase, which is the best defense. The best defense is to have the ball. You eliminate all the MLS last second finishes that can happen in our league. So, we avoided that and that is a sign of a good team. It was not our best night in the second half, but to win 1-0 and grind with the young backline. Andre [Blake] making an occasional save. It is important too along these cup runs. There our games that no one remembers and then a nice 1-0 result is in the past. Maybe it was not as pretty in the second half like we would have liked. There is something to be said for what the guys showed in that one.

On the attendance for tonight…

I think the die-hard, intelligent fans know the importance of the Open Cup. I thought are fans were great tonight. Obviously, the stadium is not full. You look around the league and for whatever reason it is a tough drop off in the U.S. Open Cup. There are probably five clubs in our league now that regardless of day of game, Open Cup or not Open Cup, or rain that will sell out every time. You want the fan base to get completely behind the group and watch these Open Cup games, but they are still great to watch. I think the diehard Sons of Ben were excellent tonight. They were loud tonight, but I do not have the answer for how you make this competition look like the FA Cup does. I think it maybe takes time. I think there is a long discussion that would need to be had about things to get it right, but I am not going to solve that right now. I have a lot of opinions on it, but I will just keep my mouth shut.

On the impact the center midfielders had on the match…

I thought their spacing first and foremost was good. I think Haris [Medunjanin] gave them a couple of different looks early. The game changed because we scored an early goal as well and that can really changes games. Usually you concede a lot more possession than we did so I was proud of the group for keeping the ball even in that moment and not just bunkering in. Haris [Medunjanin] sometimes split the center backs sometimes he popped up out left and you can tell that their game plan was to be around him but they kind of could not locate him early. It gave probably 10-15 times in the first half where Borek [Dočkal] could get a ball through the lines, turn, and have 20 yards to run in to. I almost think we were over surprised by how little pressure there was in certain moments so we fouled up plays after that. It is a credit to that three in there. Their ability to move off each other and the little patterns we do. If Fafa [Picault] comes inside and then gets behind, David [Accam] same thing, and giving different looks; I thought the movement was really good and the spacing and that started us being decent on the ball in the first half. Second half’s got to get better though.

On the growth of Auston Trusty…

For a 19-year old the physical tools are something I cannot really teach. They are God-given. He can head balls in terms of his leaping ability; his timing on defending headers is excellent. There is not a number 9 in our league that jumps with him where I kind of worry. I think he has the ability to beat almost anybody on his defensive headers. Offensively, we are still working on him and improving those because there is still room for improvement.  His ability now with his feet because he is left-footed to open up and make a pass to Ray [Gaddis] or even forward to Fafa [Picault] to eliminate defenders is brave the way he does it. In a lot of cases young players and a lot of old center backs in our league would rather not take risks and kick it 60 or 70 yards long and live to fight another day where he is actually playing balls on the ground, through the lines and really eliminating defenders.  He has some really good tools. He has the ability to take this thing as far as he wants. Earnie [Stewart] and I talk about it all the time, he has the pedigree and the quality to play in Europe. That is not to say that I am endorsing that or anything like that because I want him here. At the same time he has the potential to be a player at the highest level and that is fun to watch. It has been fun to watch his growth this year and his partnership with Mark [McKenzie]. There is something to be said about the two of them knowing each other for so long and really having each other’s backs. It is easy to say you have a guys back but when you do not really know each other that well sometimes words are false. There is a real bond between them and they play off each other well and complement each other. I cannot say enough how well they are doing. I am still going to be hard on them in film and find problems and things they can always improve. I say it all the time; a center back is at fault on every goal that is scored. There is something you could have done better to prevent it. They’ll still have some growth to do but Auston [Trusty] is doing really well.

On the impact of Alejandro Bedoya on this team…

I am glad you brought it up because he has been playing at his highest level. You talk about a professional, a leader as a captain, a guy who has embraced a young group of players around him. He does everything that does not show up on a stat sheet. He carries himself the right way. He runs like crazy even in the last ten minutes when we switched him to run as a number 10, he is pressuring a center back, and sprinting back to recover. He is an example of how you should play the game. He plays the game the right way. He plays both sides of the ball and for him to get a goal tonight is obviously special but at the same time we are most happy to see Ale Bedoya playing at his maximum right now and I think he is playing as good as he has ever played in his career. I have been with him now for a short time so I cannot speak to his real younger ages at Nantes but I think he is playing exceptionally well. He should have been recognized for things like the All-Star Game but I continue to preach to my guys: if we have success as a group the individual accolades will come. By the end of the year people will see that Ale [Bedoya] is a Best XI player.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya

On the importance of scoring the early goal…

I think in any game, if you get that first goal it takes the nerves off your back and you’re able to play the rest of the game a little bit looser.  I am happy with the result, but we should have killed them off in the first half.

On the importance of closing out the last ten minutes…

It’s huge.  I think when you get to the last ten, you get a little nervous and sit back a little bit.  I was trying to get the team to not sit back and to keep pressuring in and force them into bad long balls to hopefully regain possession.  But like I said if we would kill games off earlier, we wouldn’t put ourselves in those situations.

On the defensive marking that was enforced on Dominic Dwyer…

They did a great job.  I tried to tell them not to get too tight with him because guys like Dom, they love to have contact and they love to spin right off of you and I think they did great.  I’m just very happy about the clean sheet.

Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie

On his gameplay in shutting down someone like Dominic Dwyer who’s so physical and embraces the contact…

You just keep him in front of you, keep his back to goal. Try to eliminate him, especially in the box, that’s where he’s looking. Just eliminate his chances in front of the goal and keep him going backwards.

On the importance of keeping a clean sheet…

A clean sheet is always important, especially in a game like this and in the Quarterfinal game as well. So it’s just a matter of getting a result at the end of the day. But, again, a clean sheet is definitely adding to another win and going on to the semis.

On preparing to play against different types of attackers (Dwyer tonight and Zlatan Ibrahimovic Saturday) in two weeks and what it’s going to be like…

Well, Zlatan is world class so you watch film on them and know what to expect in a game they’ll come out and do something completely different. It’s just a matter of keeping composed and understanding what the game means. And again, trying to eliminate his chances whenever he gets the ball.

On getting better in tonight’s game just from the experience playing…

Yeah, with each and every game you get experience. Like I said earlier, about how it’s quarterfinal game in an important Cup. Ultimately we want to win the whole thing so it’s about getting results and bringing it back to Philly.

On if anything in particular changed in the last 10 minutes in the conversation on the field …

You know, it’s the last 10 minutes and you’re trying to advance to the next round so of course the intentions pick up a little bit. But it’s the same thing, keep your head, understand that there’s a game on the line and one goal can be the difference of us going through and us not going through.

Orlando City SC Head Coach James O’Connor

Opening statement…

I am very disappointed to be honest and I think we expected a lot more like the performance level that we gave against Toronto. I thought that was encouraging and so I think we will be looking at tonight and I don’t think we were really in the game if I am being honest. Second half we had phases of pressure but not enough and forced time and didn’t give enough energy so I am disappointed to go out of the competition like that.

On turning it around and preparing for Saturday…

That surprised me, the level of energy, to be honest with you, and I think I didn’t expect that level of energy. The energy we had Saturday was fantastic. There was real drive, we had enthusiasm to go and get after it and I just felt tonight that there was a stark contrast between our energy level tonight and the one on the weekend so we need to look at that for sure.

On the decision to replace Chris Mueller at halftime…

He had a bit of a kick on his calf but I felt that he was one of the ones who looked tired. To be fair to him he had a lot of energy in the game at the weekend. I think to be honest he looked as if he was showing signs of that. A few of them did to be honest. I did not expect to see that, that level of tiredness to be honest with you. Again that is something we are going to have to look at.


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