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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Curtin at the mic: Looking ahead to San Jose

For being atop the Eastern Conference standings, it’s a relatively sedate week around Talen Energy Stadium, with just a few odds and ends to wrap up from manager Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference Wednesday.

First, let Curtin take you down memory lane with his recollections of Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski from their days in the defunct MLS Reserve League.

With Fabinho suspended this week,
Union manager Jim Curtin will likely turn to Ray Gaddis
at left back. (AP)
To no one’s surprise, Curtin likely will turn to Ray Gaddis Saturday against San Jose (4 p.m., 6ABC) to replace Fabinho, who is suspended for yellow-card accumulation. I spoke to Gaddis Tuesday, and much of what he said was echoed by his manager a day later:
“I thought it was good for Ray to get the 45 minutes. I thought he did very well in that. He’s a guy who’s a great professional. He’s been itching to go. A little injury went against him early in the season and Keegan (Rosenberry) was in good form, so as challenging as that is for a pro, I’m very happy with how Ray’s handled it. He has his opportunity now. He’s not a guy that I get too nervous about because I know how good of a competitor he is, how good of a player he is and he’ll be up of the challenge to slot in this week.”
The other injury is Ken Tribbett, who trained fully Wednesday as he recovers from an ankle knock. Curtin has options regardless of Tribbett’s fitness, thanks to the strong play of Josh Yaro:
“Both are playing very well. Ken is, in his own words, not 100 percent yet, but at the same time, he looks pretty darn good in training. Josh is playing good as well. I’ll let Dom (Kinnear) have to think at least what we’re going to do.”
Curtin delved into the decision to lift Fabinho at halftime of last Saturday’s 2-0 win over New York City FC. The Brazilian drew a yellow card in the first half, and twice this season, early yellows have turned red in the first 10 minutes of the second half, putting the Union in a lurch.

Curtin’s staff convinced him of that danger:
“It weighed in the decision. It made it a little easier to make the adjustment with Fabinho getting the yellow card, knowing that he’s going to have to sit the next game, the fact that we’ve given up two red cards in the 50th minute, it all weighs into the decision. There is something to Ray getting that full 45 under his belt so it’s not his first action on the weekend against a really good San Jose team. …
“(The 2-0 lead is) another factor that weighs in. To be honest, I give my staff credit for that, because I was against it. I didn’t want to do it. There was enough voices, my assistants – Oka (Nikolov), Mike (Sorber), BJ (Callaghan) – in talking with all those guys, I thanked them after the game, too, because we’re all in this together.”
Saturday was Curtin’s first chance to interact with NYCFC manager and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, who made quite an impression on Curtin:
“I’ve crossed paths with him in the preseason, but the first time I actually met him was before the game, and then after the game as well, we shook hands and had a quick chat. First and foremost, you never know with guys that are literally walking legends of the game, what they’re going to be like. And he was humble, soft-spoken, nice guy. And I did say to him after the game, when I shook his hand, ‘you guys outplayed us today and probably deserved something from the game.’ From that regard, I did see things similar to him.”
Finally, last week we discussed Curtin’s chance to become the Union’s all-time leader in victories in all competitions, which he accomplished Saturday. Any joy over that accolade will wait for another day:
“It doesn’t do anything for me. We’re a team that’s trying to get better. We’re a team that’s trying to get back in the playoffs. I think the regular season is team-based. At the end of the year, we can reflect on individual accolades, whether they be for our staff, for our players when they get rewarded for hopefully some best XI or all-stars or different things like that. But I think the regular season is for team. The postseason, the offseason is for individual recognition or whatever comes along.”

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