Photo: Paul Rudderow
Some highlights from Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference (full transcript here at PSP):
- Asked if some players could be rested on Sunday against NYRB, Curtin said, “There’s discussions; the guys that are banged up. You have to do what’s best, obviously, to get out of the funk that we’re in, right, and find someone in the group to spark the group. Maybe it’s a new face, a change or a tweak. We won’t change our formation, we won’t change the style that we play, but maybe there’s a new body that comes out on the field and gives us a little bit of a lift.”
- So, who’s banged up? Curtin said CJ Sapong suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s loss to Orlando but he is “progressing quickly through the protocol.” Concussion aside, Curtin said of Sapong, “CJ’s worked hard but, yeah, it’s no secret that he hasn’t got goals in recent weeks. When I talk about that spark and finding something that lifts us a bit, yeah, that’s an area that we would look for a possible spark. How we handle it is still to be determined. He does have the head injury so you have to have in your mind a possibility of a change.”
- Josh Yaro also continues to recover from his concussion. Tranquillo Barnetta did not do full training on Wednesday in order to receive “maintenance” on his knee. Chris Pontius left last Sunday’s game early in the second half with hamstring tightness but Curtin said, “I don’t foresee him being limited this week.” Philly Voice notes Ken Tribbett did not participate in training on Wednesday but Curtin was not specifically asked about, nor did he discuss, his absence.
- Curtin said “it is a possibility” that Maurice Edu will be available for selection on Sunday, adding, “it’s a possible option to have him in the starting XI for the first time.”
- Curtin was noncommittal about whether Charlie Davies has gained enough fitness to be available to start.
Curtin said there was a team meeting after Sunday’s “unacceptable performance” against Orlando in which accountability was the prime topic. Curtin explained, “I spoke a little, because the staff takes accountability first, but everybody does have to look in the mirror. A lot of the players spoke up and, to their credit, took blame as well, which is a good sign, it show that we are a group that’s together in this thing.”
Alejandro Bedoya was one of the players who spoke up in the meeting. He said on Wednesday,
We had a day off (Tuesday), but on Monday, when we all got together again, we were able to go over the game. It doesn’t take a genius to look at that game and say that was a lackluster effort at best. For us, it’s just staying optimistic. We know we have a great group of guys. We know we have a good team. When we’re playing well, when we’re on our game, we can compete with anybody in this league. It’s just about putting our heads down. I was able to give a talk to the team Monday and let them know we’re all in this together, this is the end of the season, guys are playing for their livelihoods really. We don’t know what’s gonna happen next season. Some guys are gonna retire, some guys are gonna leave, get traded, go somewhere else. This is a great opportunity we have in front of us now with the playoffs and trying to win an MLS Cup here in Philly.
Kevin Kinkead reports Bedoya “is still recovering from a rib injury and was not 100 percent healthy on Sunday afternoon,” adding, “Bedoya explained that he still feels a bit of pain when turning his body in a specific way, or opening up to play longer passes.”
Curtin said in Wednesday’s press conference of having to travel to play a knockout round playoff game on Wednesday or Thursday, “Is it an impossible task for us to go on the road and win a soccer game? It is not, and this thing can turn around quickly.” It may not be impossible but history is against the Union. As Matthew De George notes at Union Tally, “Road teams in the MLS Cup Playoffs have not traditionally fared well in one-off games. In the five years that MLS has used this formulation, road teams are 2-10.”
Curtin said on Wednesday he expects NYRB will not rest players on Sunday. Following comments on Wednesday from NYRB head coach Jesse Marsch, Big Apple Soccer reports, “[W]ith one game left in the regular season and then the playoffs, the Red Bulls won’t be sitting too many players with the conference semifinals only a week away.” Marsch said,
There’s still something to play for in the table in terms of hosting MLS Cup. If Colorado slips up and we win, anyone but Dallas we play at home. So that’s a factor.
And we want to keep pushing, we want to keep our foot on the gas and down the stretch we’re still sharp and fit and ready to go. You’re not going to see us take the foot off the pedal. We might make a couple of changes here or there but we’re going to put a good team on the field and go after it.
Big Apple Soccer also notes that NYRB’s Bradley Wright Phillips is looking to clinch the Golden Boot award and Sacha Kljestan is one assist away from becoming only the second person in league history to record 20 assists in one season.
At the Union website, a look ahead to Sunday’s game against NYRB.
At MLSsoccer.com, Andrew Wiebe looks at the Eastern Conference playoff field. Wiebe gives the Union a B after reviewing the good and the bad of the 2016 season:
Playoffs, baby! It hasn’t been perfect, but the Union didn’t need perfection. They needed a club reboot, and Stewart and Curtin have revamped the culture from top to bottom. The youth setup looks primed to churn out talent, the USL pipeline is established, the first team strikes a balance between young talent and players in their prime and the facilities are top notch. A playoff run would be icing on the cake before another big offseason.
Keegan Rosenberry comes in at No. 3 in the Audi Power Index rankings of MLS right backs.
Brotherly Game has a roundtable discussion on whether the Union can be successful in the playoffs if CJ Sapong’s goalscoring drought continues.
Here’s an early transfer rumor for you: Goal.com says that, according to the Irish Daily Star, the Union, along with Colorado Rapids and Ipswich Town, are interested in 24-year-old striker Daryl Horgan, who currently plays for League of Ireland side Dundalk. I cannot the report on the Irish Daily Star website that Goal.com is referencing (the Goal.com article contains no link) other than one that says Horgan is looking forward to another year with Dundalk. Reports here and here mention the Rapids connection.
Bethlehem Steel has announced an open tryout on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Lehigh University’s Kaufman Soccer Fields. “The open tryout will be limited to 240 spots, with those interested needing to be at least 18 years old to participate. All participants must pre-register at here. Along with registration, all attendees will have to check-in with staff on the day of the event beginning at 8 a.m. An early registration training fee of $175 will be available with the cost rising to $195 from Nov. 7 until registrations closes…Upon the conclusion of the tryout, select spots will be offered to players to join the club, at no cost, for an additional tryout during the opening week of preseason camp next February.”
NBC Philadelphia reports on the official opening on Wednesday of the new mini pitch in the Juniata section of North Philadelphia, a $100,000 project built through a partnership between Street Soccer USA, Comcast, and the Kensington Soccer Club. The pitch is located at at 3781 Jasper Street, between between Castor Avenue and Buckius Street. More on the opening at Brotherly Game. The Kensington Soccer Club Facebook page has photos of the construction of the mini pitch, which consists of interlocking plastic tiles and took volunteers only one day to complete.
Blue Bell, Pa. native, and La Salle alum, Joe Farrell is one of three finalists for USLsoccer.com’s Rookie of the Year.
In the latest NSCAA/USA Today High School Boys Soccer rankings, Conestoga (Berwyn, Pa.) remains at No. 2, Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.) remains at No. 6, Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown, Pa.) comes in at No. 22, and Hempfield (Landisville, Pa.) comes in at No. 25.
In the NSCAA/USA Today High School Girls Soccer rankings, Neshaminy (Langhorne, Pa.) comes in at No. 24, with Pennsbury (Fairless Hills, Pa.) also receiving votes.
Several area players were named in this week’s NSCAA/MaxPreps High School State Players of the Week awards. For Pennsylvania, Matt Reilly (M; Somerset High School; Somerset, Pa.). For New Jersey, Jayson Fields (F; Cumberland Christian High School; Vineland, NJ).
In CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday night, Kansas City, already eliminated from advancing out of their group, defeated Central 3-1. Portland will not advance out of their group after drawing 1-1 at home with Saprissa. Former Union man Jack McInerney scored the Timbers goal.
Champions League play continues tonight with Dallas is in Guatemala to face Suchitepequez (8 pm, Facebook, UDN). A draw will see them through to the knockout round of the tournament.
Toronto has re-signed midfielder Marco Delgado to “a multi-year deal.”
Jermaine Jones could return for Colorado on Sunday after missing 16 games with a knee injury.
Orlando Business Journal has a slideshow looking at how the construction of Orlando City’s new stadium is coming along.
Deploying a 3-5-2 formation, the USWNT defeated Switzerland 4-0 after a scoreless first half in Wednesday night’s friendly in Utah. Lynn Williams making her USWNT debut at the start of the second half, opened the scoring 49 seconds after stepping on the field. Earlier this month, Williams was named the NWSL MVP, won the Golden Boot, and scored the last gasp extra-time goal that led to Western New York Flash winning the NWSL championship, making her the first league MVP to score in the league championship final. Not a bad month.
In addition to Williams, four other players earned their first cap with the USWNT: Casey Short, Andi Sullivan, Abby Dahlkemper, and Ashley Hatch.