Rosenberry vs. Chicago

QUOTE SHEET: Union vs. Chicago Fire

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin

Opening statement…

First off, a thank you to the fans that came out tonight. I thought it was a great atmosphere. Obviously a long layoff since we've been here, over a month, and, you know, for them to be behind us in what has been a difficult time says a lot about them. I thought the place was loud, they got into the game early. I thought that Chris [Pontius] gave them a reason to get into the game early, we talked about that in the pregame. Overall a night where, I thought we started well in terms of our passing. As the half went along, Chicago had a lot of possession. Not a lot of penetration through our group, I thought we were fairly organized on the night. [David] Accam slipped through once or twice in dangerous moments but, you know overall, played the percentages, limited their key guys as best as we could and overall guys made some plays and the players deserve a lot of credit, you know. They've been through some highs and lows this year, but I thought they stuck together out there on our home field and did enough and deserved three points tonight against a very good Chicago team. I thought that we were pretty clinical in the second half in terms of killing the game off and then also being really aggressive on the counter. So, again, credit to the players. They did a really, really good job and put a lot into the game.

On tactical play in the game tonight…

Yeah you know, people get caught up in the graphics and how they get put out and as soon as I saw the graphic get put out that you would probably come with that as the first question. To be honest, it's still a 4-2-3-1, you know, just because it's written that way on a schematic that comes out, it's the difference between a yard or two in either direction. If you look, go back and watch the tape, as we will as well, by design we still always had someone next to Warren [Creavalle], so it is still the 4-2-3-1. The best thing about the formation is there can be fluidity in it. Warren is a guy who is a ball winner. We thought, matchup-wise, he's obviously been in good form and what Chicago likes to do, we thought that it was important to invert the triangle a little bit in some moments to get pressure to Dax McCarty, who for me is the engine of that team. So, yes: on paper it looks a little different. The running of five, six yards a little more forward from [Alejandro Bedoya] defensively and from Haris [Medunjanin] is a little bit of a change, but still the same formation, the same idea, same principles that the guys, as you saw, when they execute them, are pretty dangerous and tough to play against.

On Chris Pontius registering his first goals of the season…

Yeah, happy for Chris. It's never through lack of effort. We asked him today, again, tactically speaking, on Accam's side, their most dangerous player, to do a lot of dirty work, doubling down on him, a lot of their goals this season have come from him and [Nemanja] Nikolic and trying to limit their chances and help Keegan [Rosenberry]. We asked Keegan a lot of times in the middle third of the field to force Accam inside on the dribble where he has to combine and play a pass and try to get it back where there's maybe more of a possibility of a mistake rather than just letting him get a head of steam and running at Keegan, which is, no defender in our league can run with him. I thought Chris did a good job in that regard. Happy for him in terms of now confidence moving forward and like many instances, when these guys get one, they usually get another and he could have had a third to be honest. I think he didn't see the goalkeeper came out and completely misplayed that one, he just had an open goal there. Happy for Chris, again, he's done a decent job for us on the assist side and happy to get two goals from him tonight.

On CJ Sapong tying the record for goals in a season by a Union player with his 14th goal…

CJ, again, has been that guy that is in and around the goal and if we get him service, he executes. We've talked ad nauseam about how much defensive work he does and the fighting for every inch out there for his teammates and how unselfish, even going back to the Minnesota game where he pulls out because he wants to get Chris going a bit, so he's a true team player. A true team striker and the goals are a product of the guys getting him service. When he gets crosses like that and he's running across the face of goal, even in the first play early on when he gets across the face and their defender makes a last ditch effort at it and it tips it over. Still, his movement on the night I thought was good, and again, happy for him in those individual accomplishments. As the team has success and we get wins, individual accomplishments are nice but, at the end of the day, all these guys want three points.

On having CJ Sapong next to Warren Creavalle in the formation…

Warren's work rate is unique to anybody, so again it's not really a matter of what Ilsinho brings or what Roland [Alberg] brings, those guys are obviously, clearly, more attack minded guys, but Warren's individual skill set allows freedom for others, so again, his ability to close ground, to break up plays, to pull the one he pulled off the line in the closing seconds. Just athletically and his engine is going to allow Ale to get a little more forward, gives Haris a little more confidence to take a little bit of a risk. It wasn't our best day with the ball still, they had the ball a ton, but in terms of the three of them working together and being tough to play through in the middle, did a very good job, but Creavalle certainly frees up space for anybody just with the amount of ground he covers and I'm sure the data that we get back on that one when we look at that will prove that right.

On how to build off this win with only four games left in the season…

Wins are important. You know, winning brings confidence. Your reward is you get Atlanta in their building, which can make that confidence become more nerves. They're a great team, they're in great form right now, but we have to go in there where, our road mentality has improved, but we haven't been able to take that next step which is taking wins on the road. I think this is our eighth win at home which, you know, with two more home games, a chance to have a pretty respectable home record, but where we've fallen short this year is on the road. I think that's clear to everybody. Turning those ties into wins is critical. Turning losses into ties when you're on the road is important and we didn't do that enough this year and that's why we are where we are. I think we're pretty honest and open with you guys about us not being happy with that, but there's chance now to go to Atlanta, on turf, in a hostile environment, with 50 to 60,000 hostile fans screaming against you and try to make them go quiet. That's what pro athletes crave. It sounds crazy to you guys maybe but, if your goal when you go into tough atmospheres, Earnie [Stewart] will tell you, I'll tell you, when you make those people go silent, that's the best. It's the ultimate. That's our task. It's a darn hard one because they are firing on all cylinders, but I guess that's our reward for our three points tonight, we get to go to Atlanta midweek.

On Richie Marquez's play tonight…

I actually thought, in the first half, showed composure with the ball to get out of some tight spots and let us breathe a little bit. Second half he had a couple of mistakes on the ball, which happens. There's certain moments where, with the scoreline, with the time in the game on when to take risk and when to try and get out of spots and he had a couple of mis-clearances I would call them that we got punished for on the goal. Center back can be a great job when nobody notices you and nobody talks about you but, when goals go in, there's always something the center back could have done better and, on that one, I think Richie would put his hand up and say he could have gotten more contact on the ball. Leaves Keegan in a weird spot where he gets punished so, overall, it's a win and I'm happy with Richie in terms of competitive fighting, winning his individual duels, but there's still always room for improvement when you're a defender.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Chris Pontius

On how it felt to score his first goals of the year…

It's about six months too late, but no, it feels good. Nice to get a win, it's been a while since we played at home. Came back to a nice crowd and a big three points for us.

On if his second goal seemed to be waiting for him after his first one…

Seems to happen that way, it comes in bunches at times. You know, you feel like you can do everything right in a few games and then other games, you're putting in so much effort and things just aren't falling for you. I can think of a few games this year where I got myself in good spots and just couldn't finish it for whatever reason. Certainly confidence plays a big key in that, but nice to get off, especially early in a game like this, I don't know, within the first 10 minutes or something that we scored, and then, yeah, we pushed pretty hard in the beginning of the second half there and got two good goals.

On balancing his national team success with his club team struggles…

It's tough at times. You know, you go through the highs of winning the Gold Cup, and then you come back and, I'm my harshest critic, so I know I could've been playing a lot better for this team and so it's nice to put it all together tonight and, you know, I think there's been games this year where I've played well, it just haven't come off, but it certainly is nice to get it on the score sheet.

On the difference between playing on the left and playing on the right…

It depends which team you're playing against, but, you know, tonight I felt pretty comfortable with Keegan, he's very, very good attacking, so it gives me a little bit more freedom and, you know, on the first goal, it came off of I believe a corner kick and then got kicked back out and Keegan just does a great job. Cuts the first one and throws them off a little bit and kind of messes with their back line and I'm just there to put it away, and the second one Fafa [Picalut] does a good job to put a shot on frame and that's what you ask strikers in that moment, just get a shot on frame, and I just reacted faster than them.

On if he noticed a tactical difference in the team's formation…

Warren just does a great job breaking up plays, covering up a lot of ground. If you go back two games ago for us in Minnesota, I think he was our best player in the field. Covered a lot of ground for us and certainly when he came in against New York for us on the weekend, he made a big difference. He gets to every pass, you think you're playing a through ball and Warren's legs just get there and cut it out, so he does a great job in that and, you know, Haris and Ale cover a lot of ground in there as well, so we had a midfield that was maybe not as attacking, but certainly put in the work defensively.

On the importance of these last few games…

You take it game by game, you know, I don't know that we're mathematically eliminated, you know, things can happen, but if you're not putting your effort in there, you're out of job next year, so I don't think there's any more motivation that you need right there, if you love this game and you want to continue in it, you better step up and give it your all.

Philadelphia Union forward CJ Sapong

On his goal…

The focus in training for me this week was to try to be alert as possible and get to the post. Even if I didn’t get the ball my run would open up space for the other players. Fafa [Picault] put in a great ball and I just had to finish it

On reaching 50 goals for his MLS career…

It’s a milestone and I want to continue to progress my game. Even though the season hasn’t gone as we wanted it to, to have some individual success sprinkled in there it’s something to build on and try to go on a run for the remainder of the season and maybe carry that success into the next season.

On tying the Union’s single-season goal record…

Well for me, it means that I’ve been able to score. It’s a number that shows I’m having an impact on the field for my team.

On keeping chemistry moving forward…

It takes staying true to our identity and today was a day that clicked for us.  The bounce went our way, I think we have been unfortunate many times this season. It does build character and I think in the long run we will be better because of it.

On building off of this performance…

We recover as fast as we can, try to get focused and get right back to work.

On Wednesday’s upcoming game at Atlanta…

It’s going to be a fun game, we cherish those moments to play in front of a big crowd, a big stage and play against a good team. We deal with the elements but in the end we try to get that win.

Chicago Fire Head Coach Veljko Paunovic

On the match…

Congrats to Philly on three points. I think it's not a moment now to go back and unwind too much. We have to move forward. Obviously we were not happy with the performance. We needed a result but credit to our guys for pushing hard until the end. I think this team never gave up and tried after we scored the first one to push and score the second, which would have helped us get a point at least until the end. The second goal was must beat. I think we weren't sharp enough, we didn't push enough and the team just has to get better. Now we have to think about the next game, recover the guys and prepare for San Jose.

On quick turnaround with match against San Jose on Wednesday…

We think it's good for to have a game in such a quick span. I think it's a good opportunity for us to get better.

Chicago Fire defender Joao Meira

On the match…

Overall, I think the game was not easy because we lost. They had a few chances and they scored on those chances. We need to push for the playoffs and that's it.

On what the team needed to do in the second half…

We knew we needed to be a little bit faster, play the ball from side-to-side faster and create more chances. Unfortunately they scored a goal early and they killed our plan.

On how he felt after in return from injury…

I felt great. It's amazing to be back. Unfortunately we lost but next time we're going to win for sure.

Chicago Fire forward Luis Solignac

On his goal…

[Matt] Polster was able to cross the ball. I know playing that position that I got to be on the second post, be the last guy. So I saw they were hesitating, so I attacked the ball, took a touch and just finished.

On the benefit of having quick turnaround with the match against San Jose on Wednesday…

Yeah I think so. I think so because when you lose they best think is to have a game right away. To kind of focus, train, think already about that game and turn this situation back again on our side.


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