Jim Curtin would like to apologize to Major League Soccer headquarters, if it’s not too late.
Amid his team’s raucous celebrations after Jakob Glesnes’ 123rd-minute playoff game-winning goal against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Curtin didn’t just run down the sideline, he ran onto the field for a moment. Which he knows isn’t allowed.
But if commissioner Don Garber could perhaps be a bit lenient with the fine, just this once …
“I apologize to the league — I might have been on the field for a little bit there, but it was just, again, the moment,” Curtin said in his postgame news conference while the echoes of one of the all-time roars in Subaru Park history were still floating around the stands. “I hope that they understand that that’s a moment that is good for everybody, is good for the league.”
He doesn’t have to worry about that part. Twitter-savvy soccer fans saw to it that the play went viral in an instant.
In fact, if anything was surprising, it was that Curtin remembered the celebration as clearly as he did after saying he “blacked out as soon as the ball hit the net.”
He was back to attention promptly enough to head off toward the mass of his players who swarmed Glesnes in front of the River End — all while being sure to protect his glasses, as seen in a video taken from the sideline by one of the Union’s social-media staffers.
‘We all lost our minds out there’
“I think I ran as fast as I’ve ran in probably 10 years, which is embarrassing,” Curtin said. “I think we all lost our minds there. But when you work so hard in a season, you work so hard through 119 minutes, I think that that’s the real emotion of the game that comes out, and we wanted to share a moment with our great fans.”
On top of that, Curtin wasn’t at all sure the shot would go in. That might surprise observers who have almost gotten used to Glesnes doing this sort of thing. But this wasn’t a free kick, as his long-range goal at Los Angeles FC was last year; nor a moment when he could settle the ball in open space and take a few steps before shooting, as he did at Atlanta United in June.
In fact, this goal might have been harder to nail than both of those. This was a chest-trap of a ball coming down toward him in the air, then a first-time hit that curved up over New York midfielder Youba Diarra, then down over goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel.
“Pretty surreal when you really go back and look at it, how he waited for the ball to drop,” Curtin said. “So many people would swing early on that, and it’s basically landing in the river. But he had the patience to let it drop, to hit it in a way that it tails away from Carlos, who was excellent on the night.”
When Glesnes followed Curtin at the podium — joined by his young son, who quite enjoyed the spotlight — the player seemed just as surprised as his manager that the shot went in.
Asked what possessed him to shoot, he said: “I don’t know, to be honest.”
“It was just happening in the moment there,” he continued. “I saw the ball was coming out, and I was just thinking from the start, ‘OK, I just have to end this.’ And then I was getting a great touch, and maybe it was a little bit lucky also, but in the end it was a great goal.”
But that wasn’t quite true, and he knew it. Because “the moment,” as he also said, came just seconds before the game was to head to penalty kicks. And when Cory Burke spent a long time down injured a few minutes before Glesnes’ goal, the consensus was growing around the stadium that the Union would run out of time.
“When Cory was down, then I was thinking, ‘OK, [bleep], now it’s going to be penalties,’ ” Glesnes said before promptly adding to the night’s list of apologies. “And, yeah, to be honest, I’ve never taken a penalty, not in my professional career.”
Fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to for at least another week. And because of it, the Union will host a second-round playoff game for the first time in their history. The winner of Tuesday’s Nashville SC-Orlando City game (8 p.m., FS1 and Fox Deportes) will come to Subaru Park on Sunday for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff, nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
“I couldn’t understand that I had scored that goal, but I just saw around me, like, all the people that were so happy,” Glesnes said. “And I didn’t know what I should do, and I was celebrating, so I was just running around like a clown. I was so happy.”