Blake vs. Seattle

QUOTE SHEET: Union vs. Seattle Sounders FC

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin

Opening statement…

Overall a good team performance from the group. I thought that, you know, our advantage was that Seattle had a six-hour flight and it's 10:00 AM to their bodies right now. When people talk about how difficult it is on the road in this league because of the size of the country, the travel, that was our real advantage, so we wanted to start the game fast, I thought the players really executed that part of things, put them under the gun early. Made [Nicolás] Lodeiro, who's an incredible attacking player, made him have to defend a little bit more than he probably would've liked, created some chances. You're nervous, though, because they're a champion and if you let a champion hang around, they find a way to get a goal, and there was probably a 15-20 minute stretch in the second half where it looked like, you know, Clint [Dempsey] might pull a play off, but Andre [Blake] stood tall when we needed him to and then obviously Roland [Alberg] scores a goal from nothing like Roland often does. So, happy for the group. Good way to go into an international break, two weeks now where guys can feel good about the performance. Two games left and we want to finish the season right way, see what happens from there.

On the playoff picture and the mentality of the team…

The mood is you want to win every time you step on the field. They're pro athletes, so that's how they'll treat it. Obviously we're not mathematically eliminated. We have to win two soccer games in a row, which isn't impossible. A certain rival has to lose three games in a row, which isn't impossible either, so we're most focused, though, on our performance, getting better as a group, evaluating things for not only this year, but beyond. An example would be Marcus Epps for, again, probably not his best game soccer-wise with the ball, but a kid that worked his tail off and defended and is not known for his defensive work and I thought that he grew up a little bit. So you're looking for those little things. Throwing a Derrick Jones on the field at the end to close out a game. These are learning experiences to these guys and they've stood up to them. So, again, each guy is getting better, everyone is at a different phase of their season and their careers, but there's still two games left and we'll treat each game that we have to go into and get three points.

On Andre Blake…

Listen, Andre is special. He makes the spectacular save kind of look routine, but I still like, on the long throw-ins, on the corner kicks, when he can navigate traffic in the box and come out and catch a ball for us and let us breathe. I think he had five or six of those today where it's a small thing. His kicking still has to improve, it's something that he continues to work on and get better. It was good to see him, when Seattle was coming at us a bunch there, to have the composure to pass out of a couple of tight situations and give us a little more possession. Still, in goalkeeping years, a young goalkeeper that has a high ceiling and we're happy with him and, obviously, he made some incredible saves to keep it at 1-0 and then eventually we get the second goal, but yeah. He's the Goalkeeper of the Year for a reason, from last year.

On Ilsinho…

Ilsinho's a player who, again, we talk about it all the time. Skill level undeniable, but you just want more consistency. When he's on the ball, running at players and they're backpedaling, you know it's going to be a good day for Ilsinho. He was able to find the ball pretty early and often and gave them some issues. Still missed a couple of final passes that he could have probably cleaned up a bit, but overall a good day for him coming off of the injury with the Achilles. I think he got a little tight and he started to cramp up at the end of the game, but overall, yeah, a strong performance from Ilsinho and now he's got to put back-to-back-to-back performances together down the stretch here with two games remaining.

On Fabinho…

Listen, when he's aggressive and stepping and not thinking too much and just being proactive and not reactive, he's a very good defender. I thought his ability to read balls that were switched on the diagonal, in certain situations, if you start to backpedal there, all of a sudden you have Joevin Jones running at you with speed, or Lodeiro getting a head of steam going at you, but he was proactive. He kind of put out those fires before they really became issues and overall had a really good, aggressive performance from an outside back. Also made Lodeiro have to defend a bunch in the game which was something that was a real bonus. He still fouled up a couple of passes towards the end, so there's still room for improvement but, overall, a solid performance from Fabinho and the entire back line. You get clean sheets as a team, it's not just Andre, it's all of the guys from CJ [Sapong] all the way back that put a lot into the game.

On the response from the loss at Atlanta…

The midweek games are always a challenge and then, to back it up, fortunately we had the extra day of rest, which I think is key. To go, when you play a Wednesday evening, to go on Sunday I think is good for us. Obviously Seattle had a very tough divisional win against Vancouver, an important win for them. It's hard to go get on a plane and come six or seven hours and then be asked to play to their bodies, which again is 10:00 AM in the morning, so it's a challenge. I know the MLS schedule is hard, for them to line things up, but it's a little bit of an advantage in our favor, we'll take it. They're still a dangerous team, the champion is always tough out, and they're going to be playing for another trophy, that's kind of their mindset right now. We got lucky with a couple of injuries, it's good to see Clint not in the starting lineup, so again, we dodged some bullets, but at the same time, you can't take too much credit away from our performance on the day, which was solid. We created enough, we had a lot of shots on goal, we were in and around they're goal a bunch, so yeah. It was a good, solid 2-0 professional victory.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Marcus Epps

On his goal…

Ilsinho did a great job playing the ball, he picked his head up when I called for the ball. I took a touch and tried to be composed.

On entering the starting lineup late…

It was definitely a surprise, I didn't know Chris wouldn't be ready. Coach trains us to be ready in any moment, as soon as I got the news I tried to get ready and focus in order to help our team in any way.

On what he saw on his goal…

After I took my first touch, I took another and saw the defense collecting. They were doing well blocking my crosses and shots during the game so I saw space near post and thought it would be best to sneak it in near post.

On playing alongside Ilsinho and the assist he provided…

Ilsinho is a good player and if you played with him throughout the year like I have you'd know that's his bread and butter. I tried to make sure I got open when he made a move and make a run in behind. He's a great player and will make that pass every time."

On showcasing his abilities for future seasons…

It’s a complicated situation because of course you want to win for your team but you also want to show for yourself. Next year is coming so I try to ensure I have a balance of working for my team and myself. I want to show the best I can do and show that I'm here to play.

On the sense in the locker room as the Union push for the playoffs…

Guys are still hungry as you could see today, everyone came out fighting for the ball and making sure we can do everything we can. We can't control the outcomes of other games but we can control the 90 minutes on the field. The guys are taking that seriously and we have to take it game by game and see what happens.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin

On his performance…

I think it was a good performance, we played against a great team. We fought well and we are gonna fight until the end. We have two more games and you never know what is going to happen.

On being called up to the Bosnia and Herzegovina National Team…

It’s an honor to play for my country, we have an important game against Belgium, we also play Estonia so we need to win two games. If we win we go into the World Cup next year so it's very exciting.

On potentially making the World Cup…

We have been there one time before, it's an amazing feeling and I think for every soccer player it's a dream to play in the World Cup. We have a good team so hopefully we can fight and get back there.

On his experience…

Of course, having played a lot of big games I hope everyone is ready and steps up for this game. We have to be the better squad and with the support behind us, we hope it helps us be the better team.

On the mood in the locker room as the Union push for the playoffs…

It’s difficult because I believe in this team and I know we have a good team. Our performances away have not been good, we won just one game and if you want to be in the playoffs we need to win games away. We have beaten many teams at home so I think when teams come to play us at home, they respect us. Against a good team like Seattle we played well knowing we had a chance in playoffs and I don't know why we couldn't do that all year.

Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake

On his performance today…

I will keep it short, I am just happy that I made a tip, that I am able to do whatever I can do to make my team win.

On staying ready all game long…

For me I know that at any time the game can start changing, so when it is quite I just try to stay in the game mentally to stay connected and to get the ball in key spots and be ready for anything.

On potentially qualifying for the playoffs…

I never stop believing. I think it is the same for most of the guys. We have to play until the final game and if we are out, we are out, but we never stop believing. We just have to keep going.

On getting called up to the Jamaica National Team…

Every time you get called up to a National Team, it is always an honor.

Seattle Sounders FC head coach Brian Schmetzer

On the match…

Not happy. When you reflect on things, you have to start with yourself. I think how we setup the team, our overall tactics, going against a Union that was certainly desperate to try to cling any kind of playoff hope. That'll be the thing I do first. I think the team went out there in the second half and had a much better performance. Between the 60th to the 70th minute I thought created four, five really good looks on goal and we weren't able to score. So I was much happier with the quality of our play in the second half but the first half we dug a hole. I have to look at myself and see if I can make sure that doesn't happen.

On second half adjustments including the insertion of Dempsey and Wingo…

There were other adjustments that were made at halftime. We didn't come close to playing as good as we could in the first half. Playing too slow, where were the guys on the field and we didn't get any attack generated on the right and left hand sides. Credit the Union a little bit there. I thought Jim [Curtin] did a great job today so credit to them.

On starting the match with Dempsey on the bench…

Well, three games in a week are tough for a lot of guys. Before this week Clint [Dempsey] and I spoke. Two conference games were more important. That's why we played him on Saturday and Wednesday. He was going to feature in this game at some point. That was the plan.

Thoughts on three games in a week and coming across country…

Well, we worry about every single game. We came thinking our game was going to work. That first goal just kind of represented the first half we had. I don't think our defending was too good on that and it gave them a lift. Like I said, we made some adjustments in the second half and I think the game evened out in the second half.

On Cristian Roldan's arm injury…

That's another one I have to do some soul searching on. Cristian [Roldan] is such a tough kid and I think he's Superman at times. Maybe we should have had a guy who was one hundred percent. Playing with a broken arm is not easy and you could tell he couldn't do the things he normally does. So I have to own that one as well.

On the playoff race…

It's a tight race. At this point we're not talking about one or two, we're just talking about beating our next opponent, which is Dallas at home, and then ending with a positive result against Colorado at home, and then we'll see where the chips fall. Houston has to play KC twice and then there's a lot of conference games that are going to go on that will make a difference. Our only thought is finishing out our season with two positive results.

Injury updates…

[Roman] Torres just has inflammation of his knee. He should be back. [Osvaldo Alonso’s] quad strain is a little more of an issue but as soon as he's ready he'll play.

Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Clint Dempsey

On the first half…

Team was playing hard. We had to make some changes. We've had some injuries, we had to rotate the lineup. Three games one week. Team fought hard."

On chances in the second half…

We had some chances. I had some good chances. Maybe I could have taken the one first time. The one I flicked through. I tried to take off my chest and it bounced a little high. The defender got in a good position where I couldn't get over the top of it, like I wanted. We had some good looks. Keeper made some good saves.

On Andre Blake…

Yeah, he made some good saves.

Thoughts on what he is looking forward to the most going into World Cup Qualifiers…

Hopefully qualifying.

Thoughts on playing Sounder FC teammates internationally…

It's like playing against any other teammate. You play for the team that you're on at the time and you always wish them well. Whether they're teammates or former teammates, at the end of the day you're a competitive person.

Thoughts on result…

If we would have won we would have clinched the playoffs. Now we have to get the right result in these next two games.

Seattle Sounders FC defender Kelvin Leerdam

On first half surprises from Philadelphia…

I don't think they did anything special but, we just made too many mistakes, too many easy mistakes, lost too many goals in midfield, couldn't get the pressure on. I think that was the key in the first half for them because we sit back too much and that's how they get their chances.

On getting things back on track with only two games left in the season…

We need to, especially at home, we need to get six points, but this game, I want to win really bad, everybody wants to win it because then you're in the second spot and now you're still I think fourth. That makes it a little tough, because, if you stay in this spot, you have to play directly in front of them, and if you lose those games second place is never going to be there, especially with these players right now, you know, [Osvaldo Alonso]'s not in there, Roman [Torres] is not fit, some other guys who played a lot of games feeling some pains, Christian [Roldan] just got in there, so we could've put ourselves in a better space than we did today. That's unfortunate, but we need to keep going on and look to the next, especially at home, we need to get six points.

Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan

On Philadelphia…

I think in the first half they were good. Their number six handled the ball pretty well. They made great runs off the ball, and I think that’s what made them so effective.

On the team’s second half…

We started pushing guys forward. We had nothing to lose at that point. I thought Henry and Clint did an extremely good job, Lamar as well. The three subs were crucial to us playing better. You see the pace of Henry, the willingness to go, and Clint being Clint, being a smart player. It was unfortunate, we had a couple of chances and we could have equalized this game.

On playing with his injury…

It’s tough, especially as a center midfielder and the way I play. I couldn’t get into tackles, I couldn’t shield the ball as well as I would have liked to and as well as I usually do. It’s a bummer, no excuses though. I try to play 100% and unfortunately I couldn’t play as well as I wish I did and that’s the story of the game.

On the team’s travel…

I don’t think traveling and playing this early helps. A 1:00 p.m. [Eastern] game is almost practice time for us. It’s difficult, but we can’t have any excuses. We had guys that were fresh, and the first half just killed us.


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