Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC
March 2, 2019
Head Coach Jim Curtin
“Not the way we wanted to start our campaign. We see a lot of excitement in the team and in the locker room. A lot of excitement off the field from our fans, who I thought were excellent today, again the River End was full and loud. We actually started the game very well, created some chances and then it just became a day where we weren’t good enough in both boxes. Offensively, finishing off plays and defensively, tracking guys in the box, our box defending was poor. Obviously Michael [Bradley] got free on a couple late runs. It’s one game. One game won’t define us for the season. It is a disappointing start for sure. There were still positives with the ball and we did some good things. Some guys had some good days, but overall we are really disappointed not to get any points.”
On the play of Haris Medunjanin . . .
“I think with the ball Haris [Medunjanin] was excellent. That is the least of our concerns in terms of the team right now. You win games as a team and you lose games as a team and we just came up short in both boxes today.”
On the similarities of Toronto FC’s first two goals . . .
“We call it the ‘red zone’. It is something we train for a lot. Offensively, getting as many numbers into that red zone as possible is a huge part of the field. Think about the 6-yard box extended to top of the penalty box. Defensively in the red zone we talk about laying everything on the line to get a block or to make a guy dribble around you and we weren’t good at it today. It is something we have to improve on and something we have to fix. It was not a game where Toronto [FC] bombarded us with chance after chance, but took the key moments, like right before the end of the half. Kai [Wagner] almost gets a block; if you see it again it goes through his legs, which maybe leads to some guys thinking that it was going to get blocked. If you hesitate for a moment their good players will punish you, and Michael [Bradley] did. For the second one, Andre [Blake] gets a piece of and it bounces to an area where we should have covered better and we didn’t. No excuse there, I will take responsibility for the loss and we will move forward now to a difficult road schedule, we know that. At the same time we have to get better. It is game one of thirty-four, not the way anyone wanted the season to start and we came up short today.”
On his team’s first game playing in the new system . . .
“Look, I think, we had a lot of the ball. We had some really good looks at goal, especially in the first half, where we had them under the gun a little bit. We talked about box defending and the play [Chris] Mavinga makes the tackle on Corey Burke in the first half. We were a little unlucky off the post off the restart and the one that gets on Fafa [Picault] quick is a difficult one. On a different day some of these bounce your way and they go in and they change the momentum quickly, but it just wasn't our day today. You see some of the positives from the system. I thought we disrupted Toronto [FC] in possession a lot early on. They’re a good team with quality players that are comfortable on the ball. So we did some things well, but now at home we can’t concede like we did, again, with the late runs in the box. I call it some good, some bad. You know, the first game of the year now is behind us, we don’t get it back unfortunately. You only get one chance at a home opener and we came up a little short.”
On his message to his team at halftime after conceding a late goal . . .
“Look, it always hurt. Psychologically, the message at halftime was we actually played a decent half. We were the ones that were proactive, not reactive. So, I thought we were achieving a lot of the goals that we set out to attain today in the first half. So, to concede the goal late in the half is difficult. Obviously Andre [Blake] made the save on the [penalty kick], which was mixed, whether it was a [penalty kick] or not, regardless Andre saves it so there is some emotion there, a big lift. Then to concede at the end of the half can be deflating, but the guys were still confident at halftime that we were the better team. Like we said, but at the same time we didn’t execute well enough on the day and a good team like Toronto [FC] will punish you.”
On if he should have made substitutions earlier in the match . . .
“We had a decent attacking group on the field as it was to start the game. We thought that we gave them a good opportunity to make some plays. Again, it was just a night where things wouldn’t go in for us. So we did make the change to a 3-5-2, had as many attackers as we possibly kind of could on the field. Got a goal to push things a little bit and then obviously coughed one up at the end of the game where it goes to 3-1, we were drawing some bodies forward. Not happy. Obviously there are things we need to work on, things we need to improve on offensively, defensively. In particular our transition defense and defending the box are the two priorities moving forward now.”
On set pieces and corners throughout the match . . .
“Yeah, we wanted to put some traffic in front of [Alex] Bono. Obviously sometimes you need a lot of things to come together at the right time. The service has to be perfect. The timing of the runs has to be perfect. A couple times, I thought we gave them some problems, we had the one deflect off the post and a couple scrambles in there. Yeah certainly we can still improve upon some of the movements in the box, the timing of our runs, the service. All those things coming together have to improve. We have to work on that just like everything else I mentioned tonight.”
Goalkeeper Andre Blake
On his thoughts about the penalty kick . . .
“Yeah, it is what it is. The referee made a call. We all know once he makes up his mind there’s not much we can do about it, so I kind of had an open mind. I realized he was talking with the guys upstairs but I knew I just had to be ready for whatever so I had an open mind and he gave the [penalty kick] and I just tried my best to do whatever I can to keep it out of the goal.”
On his thoughts about saving the penalty kick . . .
“Yeah, it was very tough. The header was very tough save for me as well, but I think that kind of got me into you know and like I said before I just kind of stayed focused and had an open mind to know that okay, you might be facing a [penalty kick] so I was just trying to get ready for that.”
On his team’s offensive performance in the match . . .
“Yeah, it was a tough one. I think we’re just going to have to go back to the drawing board. We were still able to keep the ball and defensively we have got to be better. We have to be stuck in and can’t be so easy for them to break through us.”
On his team’s new formation . . .
“I think our formation is just formation you know. Once you get on the field you have to play. It’s simple. You see a guy, you try and get to that guy, you try to win your individual battles and I don’t think we were very good at that tonight and we’re just going to have to go back and keep going. Like I said before, I don’t think it’s the system. You get into the box, you look around, you try to find somebody to mark, you try to get pressure to the ball, you try to get stuck in there and not be so easy to be beaten.”
Midfielder Marco Fabian
On the positives that he saw from his team today . . .
“I saw a lot of positive things today. In the second half, I saw a lot of my teammates that they want to win. I said to everybody it’s the first game, we need to put our heads up and work next week. The season just started, and I see a lot of good things and I want to win of course, but you see I was with the team for only two weeks and we need to work harder.”
On scoring his first goal for Philadelphia Union . . .
“I come to win like everybody else. It’s not just one player. Of course, I want to score a lot of goals and to put a path for the strikers, but it doesn’t matter who scores the goal. Today I felt good with my first goal in MLS, but I still want to win but today was a bad game. We need to work in the next few weeks and the League just started.”
On if it was difficult to establish a rhythm in the match with so many fouls . . .
“It’s difficult. I know MLS is like this and Toronto [FC] played like this. I told the ref in the second half, sometimes you can decide, we need to play more soccer. It’s not NBA here. We have a lot of [video review] and a lot of talking with everybody, but I know that is the game here and I want to know a lot of things.”
On his confrontation with Michael Bradley . . .
“It’s soccer, I know [Michael] Bradley has a lot of time with good players like the National Team. Something happened inside, but I can’t say everything outside right now.”
Head Coach Greg Vanney
On his team starting the season with three points on the road . . .
“It’s a fantastic three points. It’s very difficult to get points on the road in this league. Guys came in with a strong mentality. They did a great job of defending and protecting our goal and the other way creating chances. It was a mentality win, something we can build on. Obviously the soccer will get better and continue to grow as we go through a long season. Today was a beautiful win.”
On Michael Bradley’s contribution today . . .
“Outstanding. He covered a ton of ground, knows when to get forward and when to defend. He was in the right spot at the right time on both occasions. A lot of times he ends up getting stuck deep, but with Marky [Delgado] now back he can release and get himself in goal scoring positions. It’s not something we expect of him but he’s fully capable.”
On where his team gets leadership from . . .
“It starts from the captaincy with [Michael] Bradley, then the other veteran guys, then the next layer of guys with less experience will follow. We have a great mindset and great willingness to compete.”
On his thoughts on the referee’s decision in the match . . .
“The penalty call, the first I could not tell. For me the play of the game is the challenge on Drew Moor, it has to be a red card. We hear so much about head injuries and concussions we need to take that seriously. We need to be more respectful of that and to me that call deserves more but it is what it is.”
On Michael Bradley scoring his first goal since 2016 . . .
“Yeah I see him getting a couple more, the way we look to play we will give him more freedom to join in. He’s smart at recognizing those moments. None of us expected him to get two goals or score at all but thru the course of the season I’m sure he will find some here and there.”
On the impact of Nick DeLeon . . .
“A veteran guy who reads situations well, a workhorse and covers so much territory. He has a nice acceleration to find new spaces. For me it was a steal this off‐season and we are happy to have him.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley
On both of his goals . . .
“Marky Delgado slipped the ball in the pocket and as I went forward I found space to go into. It was not my first thought but once the momentum takes you it puts you in position to score.”
On his thoughts about the challenge on Drew Moor . . .
“I need to see it again. A bunch of us did not like it. We don’t like certain things, they do not like certain things. The guy wasn’t even looking at the ball but I need to see it again to comment.”
On his thoughts on Nick DeLeon . . .
“He has been fantastic since he arrived. I can’t think of a better guy he is all about the team. Such a good way in terms of immersing himself to the team and on the field. A very good player who you can use in many ways. He is mobile, a good footballer and I can’t say enough about him.”
Midfielder Nick DeLeon
On the win for his team . . .
“A character win, it definitely was not pretty but we hustled out a result. A character win goes a long way, a big win for us.”
On his performance in the match . . .
“I felt good, a good team performance, big plays defensively. A great performance by everyone.”
On what he thinks he means to this team . . .
“That’s not for me. I do my thing when I’m out on the field. When given an opportunity I try to make the best of it.” On how his team responded following CONCACAF Champions League . . .
“Yeah our second [CONCACAF] Champions League game was a reflection of this game. Our mentality was so much better we build off it. You saw it here in this game, it wasn’t the prettiest but we hustled it out.”
On his team getting three points . . .
“Like I said it’s not always going to be pretty but if you can get wind like that it goes a long way.”
On Michael Bradley’s performance . . .
“A fantastic game, finishing, mentality, aggression he brought it all. I think guys fed off him today.”
On what the Video Assistant Referee saw and relayed to the Head Referee as evidence that the handball on Kai Wagner in the 32nd should be upheld . . .
“The decision on the field was a penalty by handball. This was confirmed by VAR.”