Postgame / US Open Cup

US Open Cup postgame video and quotes: Union 2-1 NYRB

Photo and video: Daniel Studio

Mike and Kevin’s postgame wrap

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Note: Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference transcribed by PSP, all other quotes provided. Questions have been paraphrased.

Jim Curtin

Opening statement

I thought a tale of two halves. It was not us in the first half, we were disappointed with it, and the players responded really well in the second half, pushed the tempo of the game. If you go back to the first half, I think maybe Fabinho, maybe you could say Yaro, checked a positive box. The rest of the guys, it wasn’t them. And to all of their credit, in the second half they played as a team, they fought as a team, they got around every second ball, had Red Bull pinned in from minute No. 1 of the second half.

So, very happy with the performance, this group has a way of winning in this tournament, surviving and advancing, and I thought that there was some darn good soccer that came out in the second half — we’re happy with it. There’re still things we can do better and clean up and be a little smarter in closing out the game, but overall, incredibly proud of my guys. That’s a big-boy win because that’s a good Red Bull team, OK? That’s one of the top teams in our league, they move the ball as well as anybody, and I thought we stood up in the second half and showed that we’re a darn good team, too.

At halftime, did you tell the players to start shooting more?

It has nothing to do with me, the halftime stuff. I feel like players win games, coaches lose games, and referees ruin them. That’s kind of words that I believe and it’s all credit to my players, it doesn’t have anything to do with me. To be honest, what I said to them was, “I could come in here and throw stuff and break things, but we’re past that. We know what it looks like when we’re a good team, when we’re playing like ourselves, and that wasn’t us.” And that was as simple as I put it, that’s as simple as they needed to hear, and they responded — and that has nothing to do with me. They were the ones that have to be out there fighting for every ball, get the crowd behind them right away. That’s all the people here want, that’s all the fans want to see, is a team that will fight for everything, go down together, roll-up their sleeves in the tough moments, and not back down, and we showed that tonight. Again, we’re not scared. It was good.

On second half attack and placing Leo Fernandes at center

With Fabian being hurt — we lost him actually going over restarts in the last part of practice yesterday so a little bit caught off-guard. Seba’s [Sebastien Le Toux] the one guy that’s done it in the past at the Major League Soccer level; Leo’s [Fernandes] done it in college and he showed that he can do it in Major League Soccer, I thought. Very good holding the ball, fighting for things, strong. The last two games now he has come into, he’s left a real mark on. It’s the sign of a young player that’s growing up and getting confidence. I say it in front of my whole group in training: “Leo’s our best player.” Almost every day, in terms of getting goals, setting-up goals, he does an excellent job and now it’s translating to the field in the big moment. That’s a hard game to go into for a young player, up top at a position that…He knows it but it’s not his, probably, first choice and he did a great job for us. I thought that all of the guys that came into the game, BC [Brian Carroll] and Walter Restrepo did a good job, as well. Again, we’re a team and everybody’s contributing.

On Mike Sorber’s ejection and conversation with Jesse Marsch after he was also ejected

No, Jesse and I are really…we’re good friends from old times. But I like to beat him, and he likes to beat me, so we’re competitive. I think it’s the heat of the moment. I don’t know what happened with Mike [Sorber], I think the ball just might’ve deflected off of his knee and went back out on the field, I don’t know what happened there. Jesse was upset with the referees, obviously, and maybe lost his temper a bit. But I have seen that face before in training sessions and when you’re on the other side, I guess it still does make me smile.

On what instructions and changes that were made that led to second half success 

Yeah, I think it’s fair. We were…The biggest thing was…What Red Bull is very good at is all ten of their field players will be in literally a 30×30 segment of the field, and they press in such a way that they bait you into playing passes. And if you try to dribble out, or try to beat one guy, you’re going to get your pocket picked by the next guy. And they have a good way of squeezing you on one side. I think it started when Chris Pontius plays the one left-footed ball — almost blind — where you just clip it to the other side because there’s literally no one there. And we talked about that at halftime; guys executed — we did it about five or six times — and what that makes is their whole group now has to run 70, 80 yards and now there’s holes that open up. And when Ilsinho and Alberg can find holes, it’s dangerous. I think in the first half it was too much just direct long-ball that we’re not even giving our guys a chance to move our line, it was just straight out of bounds and then we’re in a cat-and-mouse game. And they have a good team, they’re a very good team. I think that was probably the biggest adjustment, though, the confidence to just almost hit a blind ball to our outside backs to get us off that side of the field. It lets us breath, gives us everyone a break.

But again, we play them three more times and they’re all going to look like this. Little plays will make the difference in the box.

On difference between Ilsinho in the first half and in the second half

You’ve got to ask him. I mean, he was incredible in the second half, him and Keegan. And I think in the first half, though it was a combination. You can tell when one of them…They’re usually in sync; when they’re in sync together it’s a real handful and I think in the first half tonight they were both off, so it looks like the first half looked. They both got it going in the second half; they’re best when they’re playing balls to each other, to feet.

Ilsinho is great when he gets in open spaces. He’s a guy that can play a perfect pass off of a full-sprint, which is again…People say, “They’re pro athletes, they should all be able to do that.” They can’t. He has the skill. At full-speed he can do things with his feet, he can clip a ball softly to the back post while he is running 100 miles an hour so, special talent. Chris did great, too, to get on the end of them in the box. But from the first to second half I’ll let him comment on what changed, but he definitely had more bite and life to him.

On update on CJ Sapong’s status for Saturday

Fabian, I have don’t have a timeline on it because it is so fresh. CJ, again, ran fully, he will be a factor in Saturday’s game, I can say that with confidence now. Minutes? I don’t know yet, but if I know CJ, he’ll want to start, for sure. We have a good group, we have a deep team, we have a lot of guys who’ve stepped up in tough times, whether it’s losing players, whether it’s injuries, or national teams, or international duty, we’ve managed to have the next-man-up mentality, and we’ll continue to do that.

On importance of Ilsinho’s impact on the score sheet

Incredibly important; at the end of the day it’s about scoring goals and preventing goals. I understand, there is a lot of flash sometimes, but you want it to add up to chances. I’m trying to get him to shoot more than he does, [but] he’s a pass-first guy, which is a good characteristic to have. But, at the same time, I still think there’s moments where he…because he hits a heavy ball when he shoots and, again, you see how many goals we have even this year just guys shooting and it gets deflected and it’s a change of direction and then, the next thing you know, it’s in the back of the net. So, getting him in that mindset to have a little more killer instinct around the goal is important, but two great balls that he plays tonight that could get us a win.

On Sebastien Le Toux’s potential head injury

Yeah, I don’t want to speculate on it but obviously head injuries you want to be very cautious. He’s seeing our doctors right now, so I won’t jump to any conclusions but it sounds like he took a pretty good knock. Hopefully he is able to recover quickly. We’ll see.

Postgame comments from Chris Pontius, Andre Blake, and Warren Creavalle

Chris Pontius

On the mentality switch in the second half

We knew the first half wasn’t us. The way we came out and dominated the second half, and took over the game, that’s what we are about. It’s expected of us, but I’m glad to see the response from the team. The first goal, Ilsinho was able to pick up his head. He was dribbling at the back line and I see he has some space. I saw they were pretty flat footed so I made a run across and he plays me a great ball. At that point, I know Meara is coming out on me so I chipped it over him to the back post.

The second goal, pretty straight forward. I just saw the space in front of me, made the run, Ilsinho puts it on my foot and I just put it away.

On what changed after the break

I think the big thing for us was starting to pick up second balls in the second half. In the first half, they won everything. They started their attack like that. Obviously, we weren’t clean on the ball in the first half, so that didn’t help us. I just think a little bit more fight in the second half. Guys tucking in and helping out defensively started creating offense for us.

On the offensive effort in the second half

It’s not that we were made a more concentrated effort, we were just a lot cleaner in the second half. In the first half, we weren’t clean on anything – our combination play, our passes when we did break out of press. We just made the wrong decision. Red Bulls do a good job of pressuring you, so you can tend to be tired when you get on the ball after a few minutes of working for the ball. We just didn’t make the right decisions on the ball when we did get in that spot.

On being more aggressive in the second half

Yeah, we were far more aggressive in putting them in bad spots, pressuring them. They resorted to kicking the ball a bit. Like I said, in the first half, when they did kick the ball big, they won the second balls. In the second half, it changed, we were there to pick up the seconds. We made the right decisions on the ball and were able to get out of their pressure. They make the field very narrow, so if you’re able to get from one side to the other, it’s usually pretty open.

Andre Blake

On keeping the team in the game in the first half

Definitely, we went down a goal and I just knew that we were still in the game, so I knew that I had to work harder to try to keep it at one. I knew that at some point, we’d get some chances. That’s the way it worked out tonight.

On surviving and advancing

Yeah, survive and advance. The first half wasn’t our best game, but second half we went out there, played much better, and got two goals.

On his save against Mike Grella in the first half

He’s a confident guy. He’s been scoring a lot. So, I just have to know my opponent so whenever I see that he’s on the ball in a good spot, I am also in a good spot to make a save if he tries something.

Warren Creavalle

On the turnaround in the second half

It was definitely good to come out in the second half and turn it around like we did. The boys stuck together and showed a lot of character.

On what changed after half

I think we were able to break pressure. That was the major turning point. Once we were able to break pressure, it forced them to expend a bit more energy than they did in the first half. We were able to kind of put the game back on our terms.

On if breaking pressure was a key at halftime

Absolutely. He wanted us to come in to the second half and break that pressure, initially. They had a lot of guys on one side of the field and if we were able to get that switch, then we were able to break on them.

On starting with Barnetta and Alberg

It was good. Those are some of the most creative guys on our team, so it’s attacking wise, for me, I don’t really think about it much. I can rest easy, get those guys the ball and let them create.

On stabilizing the defense with allowing only one goal

Overall, it was definitely progress from the break. We are never going to be completely satisfied unless we have a shutout [but] like you said, it’s definitely progress. Now, we just have to sharpen up on our set pieces a bit.

On the challenges of playing in Houston’s heat

I mean, away teams usually do have tough times coming in to the heat, but after breaking through that initial period, you kind of get your wind and adjust. Then it becomes just like any other game. You just have to manage the game well.

New York Red Bulls postgame quotes

Jesse Marsch

On tough loss

Yeah, it is.

On what caused his emotions to show near the end of the game

I had to try and induce change with the referee somehow because he was basically calling every foul for the Union. So laughable.

On letting up in the second half

No, it was a case of mentality and not being up for the challenge in the second half and thinking that because the first half was totally on our terms that the second half was going to be easy. We knew Philly, I tried to inform our team that in the second half Philly was going to pick it up, that they had to, that they were going to get laid into by their coach because they got their butts whooped in the first half and then they came out and whooped our butts in the second half. So, incredibly disappointing. And another horrible way to give away a game on the road.

On getting his guys ready for the next game

Going to have to gather our ourselves physically and get ready for a big game on Sunday. It’s a Sunday noon game too so the turnaround is quick. Going to have to evaluate where guys are at physically and figure out to put out a good team on the field.

Mike Grella

On the second half

Yeah, for sure, took our foot off the petal. In the first half we had 13 shots to one, it was a comfortable game for us and somehow we find a way to lose the game. It’s painful, it’s terrible, we need to look at the video and find out how to correct this and can’t continue to dominate first halves, get early leads and just give the game away.

On the road game affecting the team’s form

No, I think that has nothing to do with it. I think those are all excuses and they are not the real problems. I think we need to look at ourselves and have to stick together as a group. Obviously, there is some great times during the season, and this is the one that sucks. And we need to not get low on this, we need to correct the problems, get stronger and keep moving forward. Just make sure we correct it as quickly as possible. But this is one of the low points of the season. We are down on a cup that we really wanted to win and in a game that we were all over and we had control over.

On bouncing back for Sunday’s game

Yeah, like I said, we can’t get too low on this and we have to correct the problem as quickly as possible because we have a big game Sunday. We still have very important things to play for, we still can build something great this season and I truly believe in that. But for sure we’ll be mentally and physically prepared for that game on Sunday. And hopefully stronger, learning from these past few games where we have given away leads.

On playing a tough match after a tough loss

Yeah I think, it’s sort of the best medicine for something like this is getting back out there and putting things right. And hopefully if we get a lead, we need to kick off from there, something we need to work on. And our form away from home, we need to be better away from home. Except for the NYCFC game, we have been very poor away from home; so it’s definitely something we need to work on and nothing better than a game away on Sunday than to get ourselves back up.

Ryan Meara

On playing in this game

It’s always good to be out there with the guys, especially in a big game like this, against a rival. Not the way we planned it but we just have to move and another big game Sunday.

On the difference between the two halves

Yeah, first half, we were all over them. We stuck to our game plan perfectly and I think we are unlucky to not have 2 or 3 goals. Second half, we just came out a little flat, got away from our game plan and they punished us. They are a good team and that’s what good teams do.

On the tough schedule

It’s not easy with these midweek games consecutively, but it think it’s easy to get up for a game like NYCFC, you know our big rival. They’ll be hungry after the job we did on them last time. So that’s an easy game to get up for.

On the team’s poor road form

Yeah, the road hasn’t been too kind for us this year. You know every game is an opportunity, and Sunday’s a huge opportunity. They are right next to us in the standings and you know a win will put us further towards the top and we can jump them. Yeah, Sunday’s a new day, that’s the way you have to look at it.

On playing a tough match after a tough loss

I think so, yeah. We’ll go back and watch film tomorrow, Friday about this game and before you know it, Sunday’s here. So you know you have a good performance on Sunday, obviously as much as this stings, you know, three points on Sunday would make this all feel better.

Sacha Kljestan

On the two different halves

Yeah we should’ve finished off this game in the first half. It was a very lopsided game in the first half. We were attacking and we couldn’t put the game away. Second half I think we played too naïve, didn’t stick to our Game Plan, we lost too many balls in the midfield that really gave them some confidence to start hitting us on a few counter attacks, creating some chances. Then from there we just couldn’t keep them out and a really poor performance from us in the second half after a really good first half so really disappointing.

On the tough schedule and the impact of that

I don’t think so; I think it was more of just us from a footballing standard, and from a mentality standard. It just wasn’t good enough and not at a high enough level in the second half. We could see that from the first five minutes of the second half and we just weren’t good enough and that’s on us. We have to play better.

On playing a tough game after a tough loss

It’s always good to play big games after a disappointing loss so especially when you get knocked out of a cup and you have a derby game against NYCFC to get us back in the thick of things in the MLS, I think it will be good for us. I think we’ll be up for it.

On the Red Bulls fans coming out to Philly

Yeah I think that’s always nice, you know Wednesday night games aren’t easy for people to get to because of work and all that. But to have so many Red Bull fans in the crowd tonight, especially in that corner section, that was pretty awesome and I appreciate the support they gave us.


  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    Jesse Marsch… so bitter 🙂

    • Andy Muenz says:

      One thing that really impressed me was listening to Curtin calmly answer questions about his strikers health, not mentioning the fact that they have to travel 1500 miles to play in the heat at Houston Saturday. Contrast that with Marsch who was whining about having a short turn around with a game at noon on Sunday about 130 miles from Philly.

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