Video and photo by Daniel Studio
Mike and Greg’s postgame wrap
Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference
Postgame comments from Tranquillo Barnetta, Brian Carroll, Richie Marquez and Andre Blake
Philadelphia Union postgame quotes
Note: Jim Curtin’s comments transcribed by PSP. All others provided by Philadelphia Union. Questions have been paraphrased.
First off, thank you to the fans, they stuck with us up until the 88th minute and pushed our guys on. Obviously, Tranquillo came up with something special, but I think that the group pushed hard in the second half. It wasn’t our best night of soccer; that’s a very good Orlando team, very dangerous, very tough. Obviously, Kaka is a handful, he was probably the best player on the field tonight. Good learning experience for some of our young center backs and outside backs. Orlando had chances in the game. Two good teams, I think, going at it and on the home field, I think we were able to push and get that second goal, and we’re really happy with the three points.
What did you tell your guys adjusting to Kaka?
Good luck (laughter). No. No, he’s a, even in the second half in the moments where you have Orlando pinned in and you have them scrambling a little bit, what seemed like a harmless ball would pop out for 40-50 yards and it would be three of our defenders vs him, and he has just a way of just taking it off his chest and his first touch into space was perfect and then the next thing you know they are playing a through-ball to Winter, so, you know…I don’t have to speak to his talent, he is a world-class player.
Again, they create some chances, and they made it hard for us on the night, but at the end of the day, I am proud of my guys for sticking with it. I think some young guys learned a lot tonight. So we got some good contributions from some older players and obviously Andre [Blake]. You need good goalkeeping and he has been excellent for us. We like to keep clean sheets at home, so we are disappointed we gave up a goal, but at the same time, yeah, Kaka is a handful for any team, whether he’s playing as a false 9 or a center midfielder.
Any thought about taking CJ Sapong out?
CJ does a lot of the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He fights for every ball, he wins balls in the air, the running he does defensively to set our line is special, the work-rate he has, like I said, he draws fouls. He was tired but he has a way of catching a second wind. He is so valuable defensively on set pieces for us because he is able to mark one of the bigger guys and he attacks the ball well so, as the games get late, I am always hesitant, and reluctant, to take him off because not only for what he brings offensively, but what he does defensively in the box in those last seconds when there’s corner kicks or whatever, because he is such a special, versatile player that brings so many little things.
Obviously, It’s great when he scores, but I think what goes unnoticed is a lot of the dirty work he does to create space for others.
In the past the Union has given up many late goals. Did you sense a goal was coming?
Well, I’m not going to sit here and say that I predicted us to score, but I do agree that is the past, though. I think you can see now a group in the locker room that there is more a belief that we’re going to win, as opposed to being hesitant and reluctant. We went for it, we pushed. I still think in a smart way we pushed for the second goal in the second half. Did they have a chance or two? For sure, that’s the way good teams are going to go at each other, and I think we are a good team. That’s the one message that I have after five games in. It’s still early, but we are a good team. We’re going to continue to get better, we have a lot to work on still, the bar can be raised. Tonight we talked about raising the intensity level, the focus, a little more fight because, again, it’s early, but the table doesn’t lie and it was two of the top two teams and we had a chance to move into first place. And our guys, while it wasn’t our best night, we didn’t play the perfect game, I give my players a lot of credit for sticking with it all the way through and closing it out.
Do you work on the free kicks a lot in training or is that a reaction type of kick?
Our entire staff works very hard on restarts; B.J. Callaghan specifically has been the point man, we would say. We have a good catalog of things, we spend a lot more time and have been working on them a lot more. The second wall, if you will, the timing of that gives a little bit of distraction. It’s something we picked up from another team that was successful with it, and it provides a little bit of a different look. We checked with the linesman on the first time they did it when Tranquillo hit it way over just to make sure the wall was not offside and there wouldn’t have been an issue, and it was good. The second time they executed it well. Fortunate to get two fouls from the same look so good for Tranquillo, happy for him. But, at the same time, it was a team effort tonight.
On creating chances from the run of play
I think we’re a team that creates chances in the run off play offensively. Our recipe for success is going to be good defending, good goalkeeping, be good on set pieces. We get chances, right? We scored in the third minute. So, we get balls within the box, I’m not concerned that we’re not going to get goals. I’m most concerned with preventing them and, so far, we’ve been good at that. I won’t say great, yet. We’ve set the bar at trying to keep it at one goal against per game, so, 34 for the year. Very difficult to do; it sounds easy but if you look statistically where that would put you, that’s the challenge that our guys have. That’s what I’m concerned with. We’re going to get chances. We have a group that, the way we play, our outside backs pushing forward, our wide guys coming inside — we get service to our strikers. We’re going to get goals, it’s just a matter of preventing them.
On Andre Blake
Yeah, it’s an unbelievable save. I think he didn’t have the busiest night but when he was called upon in two or three big moments he stepped up in a big way. Oka Nikolov does a great job with him. He’s a confident young goalkeeper now. You need a goalkeeper, A, that will save what he’s supposed to save, first and foremost, but then also the occasional one to win you a game like tonight. So, happy for him but, at the same time, I’m still going to get on him because he can kick better, you know, there’s still little things that he can improve each and every time he goes out. But, yeah, for sure, right now he is in a good mindset. Big save. That’s two points, that’s the easiest way to put it. That save saves us two points. I’m disappointed we gave up a chance right after we scored that quickly so, again, we’ll look at the tape, try and fix it. But, we’ll celebrate the three points and be happy, but we’ll get back to work tomorrow.
On Tranquillo Barnetta
He’s worked hard on the fitness side of things but nothing replicates the games. You can run around a field all you want, you can run sprints with Garrison, the head of our performance department, but it doesn’t replicate the game, the intensity of 90 minutes on this field in this stadium. So, he has some positive steps forward now. Is he 90 minutes fit? Nope, not close. So, that’s the reason he’s not in the starting lineup quite yet, just because, again, he can’t go into a game with two or three guys that you’re concerned with being able to finish. So, that was the decision tonight. It was a hard one but, at the same time, I’m happy for him, he did very well to get the goal and was sharp otherwise in the 30 minutes, as well.
On Blake and the defense
He’s been excellent. I think our defenders have done a good job, too, whether it’s a block, or forcing guys to shoot from different difficult angles. So, it’s a team thing, it’s not just him. Yeah, tonight, the one he does save at the end, that’s different, that’s a different level. But at the same time, I think our center back pairing has done a good job. Fabinho has been solid. Keegan had a tough night tonight, and I talked to him right after the game ended. I said, “You gotta learn from that one because Winter is a national team player for Switzerland and he’s a top player.” And Keegan learned, he went through some tough moments on the field but he still made some big plays at the end of the game, so I think that’s a game he can grow from. The back four, the whole team trying to limit the looks that Andre has to face but, yes, he has been special when he’s been called upon to make the big one.
Did you feel you were able to exploit back line of Orlando with lineup changes?
They’re a good team; every team in our league is missing guys at certain points in the season. Are we fortunate that Higuita and Larin are out? Absolutely. But I would say they’re fortunate Mo Edu and Ilsinho are out. So, again, it goes both ways, you know, teams are going to be missing players. That’s why it’s so important and Earnie has established that we need two players at each spot. So, I didn’t bat an eye when the guys I put in tonight to sub in for Ilsinho — Sebastien Le Toux — and Vincent Nogueira comes in for Warren Creavalle. There’s depth, and I think Orlando has depth. A good team. They’re going to be in the thick of this thing and they’re dangerous. You throw Cyle Larin and Higuita out there…Higuita for me, by the way, is one of the top defensive midfielders in our league that no one really — not no one, but a lot of people don’t talk about. So, they were missing a couple of special guys, we were missing some special guys, and that’s the way MLS goes. Week Five through 34, there’s going to be some breaks you catch, and we’ll have some go against us, as well.
Something you could see that you needed to turn tables when you came on?
The coach told me that game is moving box-to-box but there was a couple of balls and a lot of turnovers so, I tried to tell the other people that we tried to keep the ball, keep possession a little bit and it was a little bit better, then we had a couple of corners.
On his final save in stoppage time
A win definitely feels better than a save to me, because at the end of the day I’m the goalkeeper, I’m there to make the save. Making that save and coming away with three points is very nice.
On Barnetta’s goal
Ever since last year he always practiced free kicks after practice, so it’s good to see on actually pay off right now and he’s pretty good at striking the ball with both feet and so I have confidence in him. The first one was tough to us but got it right on the second one.
On this year’s team
This is 2016 and it’s a new unit, team, were moving forward. We are better, we are stronger and were looking to build on going forward. The guys all agree that we stick and push a little bit more so we can keep going and hopefully we can make a step to the next level
On the end of the game
I knew the guy put up three minutes of stoppage time, I knew that three minutes would be very tough. I knew that they would move everything forward. I knew from me, especially, as a goal keeper this is when you have to concentrate even harder so I was able to do what I was able to stay focused and it paid off when making that save”
On what he needs to improve in his game
I can improve on everything, I can improve on my distribution, I can improve on back passes, I can improve on shot stopping, I can improve on going off of passes. So for me I think I can always improve my game all around.
On the win
It’s great for my confidence; it’s great for me to start getting games under my belt and hopefully I keep working hard and keep contributing for my team.
You looked like a confident team toward the end there may be in years past it might’ve gone the other way for this team but you guys look like your gaining confidence in those situations do you feel that way?
Yeah, and it’s not only confidence in ourselves but confidence in our teammates. I think on every line we have multiple players that have to believe that they can provide an impact and also willing to do half of the next man’s job, so I think its filtering through the whole team quite nicely and we just have to keep building on that.
Orlando City postgame quotes
On the result since Orlando was missing four players
I’m disappointed because I thought we should have taken something out of the game and then the good opportunities we had on the break. I thought they played with a lot of intensity, a lot of energy, again, we had to weather the storm. I always thought at some stage we were going to get a break in the second half. We were very naive with some of our defending, giving away cheap free kicks. And when you give a free kick away probably two or three minutes earlier, and they had the same
opportunity, and then we go and do it again, but I thought we were very naïve. If we want to achieve what we want to achieve this season, then we have to be better when we have the opportunities like we have tonight.
Do you take a little something from the fact that your players come right down the field fifteen seconds later and almost tied the game?
Not really, I think that, all evening I thought we were dangerous enough to have scored with a little bit of quality. I said it a few weeks ago, I thought we were, we really got around the box. It was very close on too many of occasions. When you look back at the game, you look at the chance that [Adrian] Winter had at 1-1, when he is one on one with the kicker, it was a really good opportunity for a finer ball, we didn’t really do it. I thought they were dangerous from set pieces all night and put quality in the box. They have good size and guys were very determined to get in the end of it so… If we want to achieve what we want to achieve this season, then we have to take something from the game, and that’s the disappointing things.
Why did the subs come on only after the goal, why so late?
I didn’t want to disrupt the shape of the team the personnel I had, but you know, obviously, when we are chasing the game so late we just decided to put them on. We had a good chance he made a great save the keeper to be fair. It’s a great save. You know it wasn’t enough.
Do you think the formation choice you went with tonight successful?
Yeah, I think, well after the game when you lose, you always thing something different… unfortunately, I’m not the master of hindsight… I can’t always predict what would happen. I though we certainly had enough chances on the break and that we would come away with something that we would probably be justified with the team that we had no doubt people will now say well we should have got more forwards on the field but that’s always, nobody can be aware of that after.
Playing Kaka No. 9 a matter of circumstance?
Well we wanted to try but obviously the Cyle Larin situation, we had to do something, and Julio [Baptista] normally in different circumstances will probably start but … I thought it would have been a gamble to start him when we can ill-afford to have somebody else go down a game, so it’s really been a week later he probably started.
On the overall performance of the game
Yeah, it’s always difficult away from home, and this is a tough place to play in. It’s a hostile crowd, and if we come away with a draw, then we thought that was a decent result. Looking back at the game, we had some terrific chances where we could have won the game in the end, so it’s disappointing to leave with zero points at the end of the day.
It’s tough going from Sunday to Friday, it’s a quick turnaround, but’s that the MLS. Playing at home and then going away in such a short time and we didn’t start the game very well. Obviously 1-0 down after I don’t know, 10 minutes is always tough, but we managed to get back in to the game. Like I said before, we had chances to win the game in the second half. We’ll move on and we’ve got a home game coming up so we’ll be ready for that.
On the overall game performance
All credit to them, they started well and had us on the back, and then we got the goal to boost our confidence. We had a spell in the game in which we could’ve have taken to go forward but it didn’t happen, but at the end of the day all credit to them. They came back and won the game in dying minutes, but we had a couple of chances we could have taken, but so be it, it’s not the end of the season. We have a home game and we are looking forward to that game and hopefully we can get three points there.
On the weather and if it affected the performance
No, both teams have to play in the same weather, 11 for 11. As I said before, all credit to them, scoring a late, fantastic goal, hats off to him [Barnetta]. We just have to look forward to the next game and build gradually from beyond.
On the overall performance of the team
Yeah I think most of us were good tonight. After they got so dangerous offensively, we were giving the ball away in very dangerous areas. Of course, at the end of the game, with a free kick like this, cant say nothing about it. It’s a great free kick. Some nights, we would have won that game, tonight they won it, so good for them. Now, we need to get back to work and we could have won that game tonight, it’s just a bad result, but we keep moving forward.
On the weather and if it affected the performance
Great weather, great night, great field, honestly that was a great night for football.