Real Salt Lake 4-3 San Jose Earthquakes

PayPal Park; San Jose, California

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Interim Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni

On getting the result in a must-win game: 

“There’s been so many variables within this group in the past two weeks. When we huddled up in the locker room, Albert [Rusnák] grabbed the guys and said, ‘Fellas this is a must-win game. Whatever it takes, whether that’s taking the lead or coming back, this is a must-win game and we’ve got to do whatever it takes. It’s up to all of us here.’ For me the most important thing has been the leadership of both Albert and Dami [Kreilach]. When you have those guys on the field that believe that we’re going to win, everyone else follows suit and everyone has the same belief. Then to have it manifest in the way it did tonight, coming back a couple of times, but still having that belief that we’re going to get some. Moving forward with this group, we’ve got to tighten a few things up defensively, but the belief is that if they can score three we can score four. Albert has been thriving in the attack, Dami has been thriving, Anderson [Julio], Rubio [Rubin]. We just have to make sure that we tighten some things up, but there’s a lot of belief in this group and it's really important as we move into the latter part of this season.”

On the formation: 

“I think what it does is that it allows us to really play from the back, something that I think we’ve struggled with in the past. In regards to San Jose, they do a good job pressing with two center backs and keeping their outside backs higher. They do a really good job of not allowing teams to build out. Because of the work of their nine and ten, they can’t take up as much space as quickly as they do. It kind of fit what we were trying to do. The other part is not having Aaron [Herrera] available to us tonight. Because then we’re either putting a left-footed player on the right side or we’re giving a guy like Bode Davis his first start in a must-win game and that’s not fair to the young man. There’s a lot of different factors at play, but I really feel like this group has taken on this formation on both sides of the ball. The goals that we are conceding don’t have anything to do with the formation, they are random acts that we have to continue to stay focused on in the moment and continue to improve on as we move forward.”

On the ways goals are being conceded: 

“If you look at the goals, in LAFC of the three goals that they scored there was one that was in the run of play. One was off the kickoff and the other was an own goal. Tonight, we conceded one where we have three guys that aren’t across the half field and they take the kickoff early. Now could we defend it better? Yes. If we’re in a four, if we’re in a three, if we’re in a five, it doesn’t matter, we still have to defend that moment better. But the fact that that goal comes off a kickoff, we have three guys on the other side of midfield and they don’t allow us to set up. It was really baffling to me and then the other one was a corner kick goal. Again, I really believe that in the run of play we’ve done a really good job of minimizing quality opportunities. The back three have done really well, the wing-backs have taken on some great positions and I think our deep-line midfielders have really done a good job pressing the ball at the top of the box and minimizing quality chances. It’s really tough to say when you’ve conceded five goals in two games, but the flip side of that is that we’ve scored six goals. It’s something that players like Albert [Rusnák], Dami [Kreilach], Anderson [Julio] and Rubio [Rubin] thrive on and we just need to put that all together and make it less anxious-ridden for lack of a better word. We’ll go back and look at some tape and definitely look at how we can remedy those moments.”

On being the interim Head Coach:

“I had a meeting with the executives and what I said is that at this moment it's not about me. It’s about taking the group and making sure that we’re moving in the direction that the club wants to move in from a play perspective and a results perspective. If all of those things manifest in making it something that is long term, I am grateful for that. But the most important thing for me is not to focus on myself, it’s not about me keeping the job, it’s about giving these guys something that they enjoy, something that we can flourish in, and more importantly giving the guys the leadership to take this team and run it. I think in the last couple of games the guys have been fantastic. They are owning every aspect of the game and as a coach I think that’s the most powerful thing.”

Forward Rubio Rubin 

On Pablo Mastroeni’s leadership: 

“I think overall Pablo has done a fantastic job making us take ownership and putting other teams on their heels, completely going forward more and taking the game to them. We showed it against LAFC and obviously the result didn’t go our way, but then tonight we got the three points which is the most important thing. I am just happy that we were able to get on the front foot and be on the attack and be able to create chances. We’re excited to host Seattle on Saturday, we’re looking forward to that matchup. It means a lot to all of us and we’re looking forward to it.”

On facing Freddy Juarez’s new team: 

“I mean we all want to win the game, all of the players. We want to take it to them and show that we are not only a good team, but a playoff team. We are looking forward to playing at home in front of our fan base and going for three points.”

Midfielder Albert Rusnák

On his emotions after the match:

“We need points. We dropped points in LAFC after a good performance, but I thought today we did more than we did in LAFC. Our performance was better. Still a couple of mistakes that cost us goals, but we scored two goals at LAFC and four goals today and if four goals today wouldn’t be enough to get three points then we’d be very disappointed.”

On the mentality of the group:

“There is no point in us sitting back and letting the game come to us on the road. Just like at home, we want to dictate the tempo of the game. We want to be on the front foot whether it's home or away. It’s a little bit tougher to do it on the road, but we played Sunday and we had two days to rest and then we played again and we played like this so it goes to show that it doesn’t matter if you play three games a week or six games a week, if the mentality is there it is possible.”

On his message to the team:

“We’ve been behind many times this season and we’ve come back to win the game. We were twice down at LAFC and we managed to come back to the game. Today we were down twice again and it shows that we are a good team. We are fighting one for another. The message before the game was one for another and everyone for the team and the result is the most important thing.”