SAVE: Zac MacMath, HOUvRSL: February 27, 2022

Quote Sheet

Real Salt Lake 0-0 Houston Dynamo FC

PNC Stadium; Houston , Texas

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni

On the overall game plan:

“I thought it was a fantastic performance from the guys. Real gutsy, they dug deep, and like you said they’re pretty dynamic in the attack and they asked a lot of questions of our back three, kind of forced us into a back four or five at times. But again, first game of the season you want to come out with something, especially on the road. Houston is a physical place to play, so I couldn’t be more proud of the effort, the commitment. There were some fine plays that created some opportunities that we thought we might get one there, but we’re really satisfied with the performance.” 

On attacking through the middle

“I think sometimes the quickest way to get forward, especially in our set up, is when we find a front man, we set and it is really a third man running. Whether it's someone out of the midfield running or it's one of the wing-backs. That is something that we will look at, and have to work on going into next week. I think we did a good job finding Bobby [Wood] and sometimes it took two touches, three touches to kind of secure it. Maybe the entry ball wasn’t the cleanest, so he had to clean it up. So, just little details really. But those are expected in the first game, and we will get better at that and find ways to get our group higher up the field and create those opportunities.” 

On new player debuts

“I thought Tate [Schmitt] played a really good game. Again, a difficult group that is always going to try to look behind, so he had to make some really tough decisions, and I thought he handled most of those really well. I thought Sergio [Cordova] brought a great presence up front, good hold up play. I would like to see him hold it, set it and spin, and get in the box a little more. And that is something that we will talk about more moving into next week, but I thought he had a very good performance. And [Scott] Caldwell, I thought him and Pablo [Ruiz] really did a steady job in the middle of the midfield against, again, a really dynamic midfield. So again, all across the park, with Damir {Kreilach] leading the guys and doing a great job. Doing the little things, connecting the group, like I said, really satisfied with the performance.”

Goalkeeper Zac MacMath

Thoughts on the season-opener

“It was a really good defensive performance. We would have liked to have been a little cleaner on the offensive part of the game, but anytime you go to a place like Houston for the first game of the season and keep a shutout, that is something to be proud of.”

Thoughts on the performance of the the wingbacks

“They did a great job. Probably the toughest position on the team. They have to stay on their front foot, and sometimes they are wingbacks, and also cover defensively. Both those guys along with everyone out there put a great defensive shift in.”

Thoughts on communication in the middle of the field

“I thought Pablo [Ruiz] and Scott [Caldwell] did a great job. That is kind of why we brought Scott [Caldwell] in. He has a lot of games under his belt where he can come to a place like Houston with a new team and really hold it down with a new teammate in Pablo [Ruiz].” 

Forward Justin Meram

Thoughts on Sergio Cordova’s MLS debut

“I thought it was good, busy being on the ball. He had an injury in preseason, so working through that. I think for his first action he was good. He’s a fantastic guy, so hopefully we watch him build off this performance and see him in action next week.” 

Thoughts on improvements in the attack

“Just got to get more bodies in the attack. I think when we have creative players and the more numbers we have in the attack then we can overload on the sides, or play through them and create chances. But I think we were pretty defensive today, which is what Pablo [Mastroeni] asked. I see it as a good defensive effort, and we had some okay attacking moments. But the more numbers we get next week, the better it is going to be for us. It gives the chance for a Damir [Kreilach], or Bobby [Wood], or Sergio [Cordova], or whoever playing up top chances to score.”

Thoughts on getting a road point compared to three

“I have been playing in the MLS for a long time, and getting a result on the road you can’t ask for more. It is very difficult in the MLS to go on the road, and get points. So, whenever you can go on the road and leave with something I think it is a positive. Obviously you want to get three points in every game, but you are not going to be disappointed about one in the season opener, on the road and getting a shutout.”