Mike and Eli’s postgame wrap
Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference
Interviews with Vincent Nogueira and Andre Blake
Philadelphia Union postgame quotes
Note: Jim Curtin’s press conference transcribed by PSP. All other quotes provided by Philadelphia Union. Questions have been paraphrased.
Happy for our guys. We put a lot into the game, we were able to kind of maintain the pressure all the way up until the 90th minute. It’s a good Orlando team that was in a really good run of form — five wins in a row — so we knew they would come at us, a unique situation where they needed a lot of goals. I thought we were pretty organized, a good shut out. Andre Blake obviously played well, I could go through every guy. I thought Barnetta had a good game, you know, catching the ball, turning and running at guys, created a lot. It was a good team effort, a good way to end what was a difficult season, a disappointing season. We’re not satisfied by any stretch, in a lot of ways we came up short on all of our goals — Open Cup final, going to the eighth shooter and losing and then not making the playoffs. But, thank you to the fans that supported us all year through the highs and the lows. Happy for our guys to send them home happy on the final night of the year.
On what the next couple weeks will involve
Yeah, we’ll have player meetings tomorrow morning, guys will have physicals tomorrow morning. I’m not a guy who, after the season ends, keeps guys here for two weeks to train cause all that does is lead to is literally fist fights and fighting and angry guys. I think that’s kind of counterproductive. So, we’ll have meetings with every player tomorrow, we’ll fit them all in. We have a big off season, a lot of hard decisions, a lot of contracts that were set up in a way that options can be picked up now, or we move on. And there’s a lot of big money guys that we’ll have tough decisions on. Some that will be back and some that we’ll maybe move on from. I still think that we have a strong core; I don’t believe in the idea of just blowing the whole thing up and starting completely from scratch. I think we still have some good pieces, some guys who maybe had down years that can be rejuvenated and have better years.
On Orlando’s intensity
Yeah you could tell by the line-up they fielded too. They fielded their top line-up. Kaka is out on the field in a game that, again, yeah, if they score nine goals, yeah, maybe you could say it means something. Again, a team in good form, they have guys competing for jobs for next year, as well. They’re professionals, they want to win any time they take the field. Larin out on the field is a handful, he’s a monster. Up close to see him and how big he is, and how kind of fluid he moves — impressive guy. Obviously, Kaka, I don’t have to talk about, you guys are all familiar with what he can do. They’re a good team, they’re a good young team that probably wishes the season could go about three more weeks because they’d be right in the thick of things. So, credit for them. But, happy for our guys to finish the season the right way.
On Andre Blake
Finally got a run of games where he was healthy, and deserved it. And when he got his chance he’s thrived, not just with us but also internationally now, he’s played in some high-pressure games there and he’s growing and learning. You see some of the saves he made tonight to keep us in it, even in the first half, they get a good look and he bails us out and makes a big save for us. So, very happy with him. He’s shown he is capable of being the man for the job long term, cause he’s still young, and we hope that that is solved and can be in the past and we can move along. But there are things where you have to put together that full 34 games, I think that’s when you really have arrived when you’ve played game one through 34 and you’ve put them together. Right now he’s at about six to eight I believe. So, it’s a good snapshot but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. He’ll have a good off-season, we’ll keep him busy, keep him going cause he’s feeling good right now. He’ll be with Jamaica in the coming weeks and then also we think it might be a good idea to send him somewhere for a couple weeks to train in Europe somewhere.
On coming back from Red Bulls loss
We talked about all week, that wasn’t us. We’ve lost games this year — we’ve been beat — but not in that manner where seven seconds in…Ok, fluky things like that can happen — Grella starts, ten yard head start, by the way, but I’ll just sound like I’m whining. But to give up that second goal almost immediately after it wasn’t a true indication of the guts that this team does have. So, to their credit, they bounced back. I think you got a lot of work out of Tranquillo defensively in that 10 role, covering ground, getting out to guys — no free roles out there and I think the guys fought hard for everything. Was the soccer perfect? No, but we there were moments tonight where we actually knocked the ball around a little bit and were composed and kind of dictated the tempo of things, which hasn’t always been the case on our field. You guys have talked enough about it too and I agree, sometimes we get a little excited and they’re just kind of lumping balls, but I thought we passed pretty well on the night and were composed and kind of dictated the terms of the game. Orlando had a few chances but a good goalkeeper bails you out in those spots and that’s what happened. 1-0 at home and you’re happy.
On how the season was for him personally
I learned, I learned a lot. We had the initial, as I was the interim, that uptick that kind of naturally happens when there’s a coaching change. Maintaining that momentum is difficult, it kind of faded at the end of last year when I was officially named the coach. You knew it would be a lot, I learned every day, I learned from every game, every training session something new, you can always get better. I’m 36 years old, I’m the youngest coach in this league and I don’t have all the answers. I think I’m a realist though, I know that we’re not quite good enough right now, we are close but we’re not quite good enough. And you guys see the margin for error in our league is small. My close friend Jesse has turned around Red Bull in a very quick way with a completely different kind of philosophy and roster. We’ll be tasked with that in the offseason. It’s a big task. Again, though, it can be done. Bennie Olsen, another close friend, went through a season where they won three games and now they’re a playoff team; I saw they got smacked tonight pretty good, but it’s an example.
So, again, learned a ton. Again, I think that we had a difficult season in a lot of ways, inconsistent. I’m fighting to find the guys that when the game starts we know exactly what they’re gonna look like. Every team is looking for that, the identity. So, in the games the Philadelphia Union loses you guys still at least know what we’re trying to accomplish, have a true identity. The Patriots, the New England Patriots, when they lose, and they do lose because every team is going to lose games, you still at least know what they’re trying to do and the way they try to go about it. An analogy: Whole Foods does organic food the best, right? They might make a mistake in marketing but you know where you’re going for your healthy food, you’re going to Whole Foods. So, those are the things we’re trying to have that identity for the Union, and there is a fresh start right now, there really is, you could call it a 2.0. We’re gonna make, we have a lot exciting things, we have a whole new complex that’ll be built, a locker room, we’ll walk out of there [and] will feel a lot more special because we’re not in here every day. Game days will be different,they’ll have a special feel to it. We’ve been a team that’s not been good at home, I hope that changes that.
So, we have that, we have the Union II coming in — we have a lot on the horizon. The addition of a sporting director in the near future will be important, as well, to shape things. But, I am excited to move forward with this club. It’s my hometown team and, again, more than anybody I recognize that the badge that we wear, the two and a half inches, is bigger than everybody in the club. No person’s bigger than it, and that’s kind of the message I send to my players, and the front office and the whole staff. We’re excited to move forward and we do have a lot of good things happening off the field, as well.
On Jay Sugarman backing him
I’ve been in communication and I’ve been a part of the process [of hiring the sporting director]. I’ve been in and talked and met with everyone that’s been brought in. There’s a lot of great candidates. They’ll make a smart decision, I trust that. Jay is as sharp a man as I’ve ever met, he’s quiet but he’s calculated, he’s intelligent. He wants to win more than anybody. He is one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever met. He’ll tell you he’s not a soccer guy but he is learning this game and he’s learning it fast. You give him a little bit of information and he takes it and he runs with it, and he has different ideas. He’s gonna be a winner in this league, you can sense that. He’ll do anything he can for this club to move forward now in the right direction, and he’ll fund it, if we present it in the right way, he’ll fund it however is necessary to make this team a playoff team every year. And from there, you’ guys have seen how playoffs go in this league, anybody can beat anybody. So, very important he has my back which is huge. He’s given me a lot of support, and we’ve had good talks in recent weeks and I’m excited to move forward with him. He’s a great owner.
On Le Toux
Seba had a year where he always gets hot at a certain part of the year, sometimes you can’t predict when it is; sometimes it’s the beginning, sometimes it’s the middle. This time it was towards the end. And when he’s on he scores goals: He sets up goals and scores goals. Fitness wise is never a question, he’ll be able to play til he’s 35, 36 years old, no problem – at least — just cause he takes such good care of himself. He’s a guy that I still would love to have in the Union’s plans. He’s been great for the club, he’s served the club well. He has a contract that’s up and we’ll make the right decision in that regard, and we’ll have discussions. Now that this game is in the past those will start. I believe that the season is for the team and now that the season has ended it will start to be about individuals and that dialogue will start with Seba moving forward. But, obviously a guy who had a very strong end of the season and scored some big goals.
Thoughts on the last game
It’s a good thing to finish with a win at home and it’s a good thing before the vacation. We’ll come back next season, I hope, stronger.
How important is this offseason for you?
It’s good to have some rest. We have to manage ourselves as best as possible. I’ll rest for maybe one month and then I will work and then I’ll be back for preseason.
This game turned physical. When there’s nothing to play for in the standings, does the physicality help you stay in the game?
Yes there was a lot of contact. We did a great job tonight and high intensity is very good for us.
It’s clear there’s going to be a lot of change from the front office to the USL. What do you want to happen?
We are all competitors so we all want to have the best team possible and make the playoffs. We want a better season so, of course, we want to do our best but the second team will be a great thing because when you are young you have to play more and when we are not [in the] 18 we cannot play so it will be important.
Sebastien Le Toux
It is great. It was important for the fans and we are happy with that. We only scored on a penalty but we had some good action in the first half and the second half was a little slower with a lot of fouls but I think we played a good game. It’s good to finish on a good note.
You’ve been around for most of the time that this team has been around. Are you satisfied with the progress this team is making?
It’s hard to see, from your (fans) perspective, the progress because there have been a lot of different coaches and lineups and players. Like you said, I’m the only one which is not healthy for a team that wants to be competitive but I hope from this year we’re going to keep a good core of guys that can work well together. We need to understand each other better and play more games together because all the teams that win trophies know each other and count on each other. I hope we can work on that and get some of the same guys. We have a young team and it’s important to work with the same players. That has been our problem.
Do you want to be back here next year?
Yeah I only want to play here. I never want to express the wish to leave. I love to play in Philadelphia, I love to play for the Union, and even in knowing that we aren’t winning a lot, I really care about this team and this franchise.
Does the intensity from the game help you get into the game?
Yeah, I mean last week was a bad game and I think today really showed that if we work hard and if we work as a team together, we know that we have a good team but we have to show that on the field. I think that today was that face that we have to show.
How much of the conversations this week were about fixing the mistakes of last week’s loss?
Of course you have to talk about it but after two days I guess we said that we have to focus on the next game. We know that we can do better. In a season sometimes you have games like in New York where everything goes wrong and you make mistakes that you usually don’t make but you have to forget it and work during the week to continue and we wanted to show today to the fans, and to ourselves, that we can do it better. I think it was a good performance today.
You’ve had 10-15 games, what are your feelings in adapting to this league?
I needed a couple of games to come in and know how it works here. I knew from the beginning that it is really physical but I wasn’t where I used to be and I felt like every game I got better and now I really know how it works. It goes from box to box all the time and we need to calm down in the midfield and dictate the tempo. If we could slow it down, we will have good results.
On the last game and fan support throughout the season
It was always amazing to play here in PPL. For me, I came here new and I know that my first performance wasn’t that good but the supporters always stay behind me and support me and that was a good motivation today, to show them that we can win at home and give our best for them.
Do you go into the offseason changing your approach?
No, I’m happy that I can do a real preseason and it will help me a lot to start with the team and to continue to know the guys. I hope that we can stay together like this as a team. We have a good chance for next year. Of course, I can stay at home for three months and I’ll try to practice in Europe with a team to stay fit and stay physical but I don’t think I have to change too much.
Orlando City postgame quotes
Overall thoughts on the game
I thought we started slow. We got in at halftime and we had a few words, and I thought we were better in the second half. Played a little bit more of how we have of late. A lot more determination, a lot more enthusiasm, a lot more desire. By then we were already 1-0 down. I’m disappointed that we finished the way we have. We are better than the performance that we put on this evening.
You fell a little short on the playoffs, what are your thoughts on the good run you had at the end of the season?
I think it shows that the players have come through. A lot of adversity, they kept going, and kept believing in what we were trying to do. There have been a lot of positives in the last 5 or 6 weeks. I just wanted to finish it with a win, so I’m disappointed at this moment but I’m sure in the cold light of day, when we look at all, you see that the players have never given up and kept going. Which is important.
What were your thoughts on the disciplinary aspect of today’s game?
I was disappointed with the sending off, disappointed at some of the things we did, some of it was a bit silly. I’m at a loss about the referee’s performance. I really am. I’m at a loss with it. I don’t want to say anymore, I don’t want to say anything about him.
You guys came in and had Brek Shea and Luke Boden very high, and that led to a lot of counter. Any reason why they were attacking so much?
We wanted to win the game. When you take chances, we didn’t settle in, we tried to take it to them. As you say, we pushed the fullbacks really high, and it leaves us exposed at times. I thought we scored a decent goal from the corner, not sure it was a penalty, and I don’t think we had the rub of the green today. We are better than we showed today.
What did you think about Josh Ford’s first start?
He did great. It’s not been easy for him, you know, he is coming in goal and he has been away with Fort Lauderdale but he has been a great professional. It was nice for him to get a reward for all the hard work, for when he has not been played.
Is there a bit of intent to bring Pedro Ribeiro instead of Bryan Rochez, to give him a chance to play against his former team?
Not really, Bryan has got a muscle strain so, it was in that necessity, since Bryan wasn’t fit to play.
Do you have a message to team after the season?
We have had a great last month to the season, before they leave, we’ll have a good sit down and go through everything. There has been some really blazy stuff and some stuff we just got to get better at. And that’s what the offseason is for, to try and improve and make sure that the last game of the next year’s season, we are above that red line in the playoffs.
Any message for the fans that were out there tonight?
Fantastic, I can’t applaud and thank them enough, they have been absolutely magnificent. When we arrived at the hotel last night, there were about 80 people waiting outside the hotel, they have been incredible. And that’s what I have told the player, that’s who you play for, the people who spend all the money to watch us play.
What does the team do moving forward?
What do we do to get better? We have to get better. I think there are a few areas that we need to strengthen and that is what the next few weeks are for. We sit down and have a chat with everybody, and hopefully come out with a plan that makes us a lot stronger next year.
How do you describe this overall season, and what you’re looking forward to next season?
Obviously it’s been an up and down season for the team. Obviously disappointed, we didn’t make the playoffs. Couldn’t be happier with my teammates’ support, and the coaching staff, it’s been great. I think we have just had too many games that didn’t go our way. But besides tonight, the way we finished the season, and pushing for the playoffs, was just a glimpse of what we can do.
On being in the starting line up for the first time
It was great, it was an honor playing with these guys. We worked so hard throughout the year. I was fortunate to play some games somewhere else, it allowed me to have some confidence to step in to this game, it’s definitely a plus. It was great, my family and friends were able to make it, see my first start, which was really special to me. It’s unfortunate about the loss but we get to go on to next year and go for the prize.