Quote Sheet: RSL 1-0 Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar

On GK Nick Rimando’s role in preserving the win:

“Nick and I have built up an unbelievable relationship over the last eight years.  Now Daryl [Shore] has come in and is doing a fantastic job.  I’m just so happy for Nick [Rimando]. The saves were world-class, and kept our team in it at, well, timely times. Just couldn’t be more happy for him, especially with everything that’s ahead of him – just so happy for him.”

On the club’s unbeaten record through the first seven matches of the season:

“It feels good.  I felt that we did a lot of the right things to win the game today. It was an awesome feeling in the stadium today with a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd. You could feel that we were building up to score a goal when Ned [Grabavoy] put that in. The energy in the stadium was unbelievable.”

On his previously stated mantra that “the soccer will come:”

“I think, without a doubt, that we saw a lot of it tonight. I thought there was a lot of really nice combinations, guys were in the right positions, even when the ball turned over they were in great positions to then win it back and stay on the offensive. I was really proud of the guys because we wanted three points in this game and we were pushing and pushing and pushing. We left ourselves exposed a couple of times, and Nicky [Rimando] was unbelievable tonight.  During the game, I thought our back line and Kyle [Beckerman] were fantastic throughout the game.”

On the importance of getting the win, instead of another tie:

“Even more importantly, I just wanted us to come out aggressive and play with that mentality at home. Obviously, getting three points against a Western Conference foe in front of our fans. We’ve built up a nice little rivalry with Portland.  It’s always good to get a win against them and try to put as much distance from them as we possibly can because they’re a very, very good team.”

On Rimando’s injury late in the match:

“I think he took a knock to his back. I’m sure he’s going to be very sore tomorrow. I can’t remember the play exactly, but it looked like he kind of got undercut a little bit and he came down awkward. He’ll take care of his body, fill himself with some ham tomorrow at Easter, and get back to work on Tuesday.”

On the franchise getting back to a .500 all-time record:

“It’s extremely meaningful.  Every time we step onto the field, we want to win. To get back to .500 feels good – I hope we don’t ever stay around there anymore – but it definitely feels good.”

On FW Joao Plata’s return from injury:

“I thought when he and Sebastian [Velasquez] came into the game, it brought a lot of energy – it brought a lot of energy to the stadium and a lot of energy on the field.  With Joao [Plata], I thought he was very sharp. I thought his movements were good. He was telling me the other day that it all started when he started doing his rehab in the gym, and getting fit and strong, so when he stepped on the field, he hadn’t missed a beat. I thought he was sharp tonight.”

On the club’s continued dominance in head-to-head matchups with Portland:

“It seems like this club’s always up for the big games. They really enjoy that battle. With some people picking Portland and some people picking us, they guys feed off those kinds of things.  Obviously, it’s at home, but they’re a good team – a fantastic team. Our guys are always up for that.”

Real Salt Lake GK Nick Rimando

Thoughts on his last save of the game:

“It was just keep it zero. We’ve been letting in some late goals. Keep it zero, even if we’re winning, keep the shutout. Just stay low, be ready and was able to expect the ball.”

On his multiple big saves:

“It felt fresh tonight. Two weeks of taking care of my knee, I just felt good out there and felt fresh. I guess I up to the task tonight and a little luck on my side and we can look at the defense as well, and the players in front of me. They played well and helped me out a lot. But it feels good to contribute like that, even with a couple weeks off and get three points in front of our fans.”

Thoughts on being one shutout away from tying the all-time record:

“I think it’s a really great accomplishment, but I think when it comes, it comes. I’m not banking on it coming next week or the following week. I’m just thinking about getting a win and keeping this game moving forward. If it comes, it comes and when it comes I’m sure everybody will make a big deal about it.”

Thoughts on why RSL is so dangerous against Portland:

“I don’t know. I think we’re always just up for them. They’re a good team – they like to fight, we like to fight. It just seems that whenever we play against them, we’re up for the task especially at home. We want to win; we go forward. We’re not happy with ties and tonight was another example of us really stretching the game and trying to get at them, and trying to go for that goal. We left the back a little open, but we got the win and they’re zero.”

Real Salt Lake MF Ned Grabavoy

Thoughts on GK Nick Rimando’s big saves and the energy level of the game:

“It seemed like we were kind of fighting our way through it and trying to battle our way in to their goal anyway that we could. Obviously, at the end about the last 20-15 minutes, Nick makes some unbelievable saves to secure the three points. So almost two or three of them, I’m literally getting ready to turn back with my head down and back to the half line, then it’s a corner kick. He grabs onto it and snags it. Once again, I thought our energy is great. Our energy and commitment has been great the last four or five games. I think that’s why we’re picking up so many points.”

Thoughts on chances and eventual goal:

“I had one in the first half where I was maybe a little bit further out and maybe have a chance to strike one on goal from a longer distance. But I decided to try to split the guys and he [Beckerman] is the one guy who looks at me and says, ‘you got to hit that. When you get a chance to hit it, hit it.’ I think [Joao] Plata makes a great run to really take that outside back. I think it was Jewsbury – he just basically starts to run with him. At that point, I have nowhere to basically pass the ball. I feel comfortable striking it with my left more than my right, so at that point I just thought I’d give it a hit.”

Thoughts on the team starting to get healthy again:

“It’s great without question. Not just for selection for the starting 11, but to get guys into the 18. We’re getting guys healthy up top as well, which is really important because we can get some different looks up there whether we bring [Joao] Plata off the bench, or Devon [Sandoval] came in tonight. Sebastian [Velasquez] has looked pretty sharp the past week in training – he comes in again and makes an impact. So competition is important without question, and then it becomes form and sharpness. And they’re some good players who don’t make our 18-man roster. They’re good players on our team who weren’t in the 18 today, and that’s all part of the competition to hopefully make the team better.”

Real Salt Lake MF Kyle Beckerman

Thoughts on why RSL is so good against Portland:

“I don’t know. We just play hard. It’s always a hard game. They’re a good team – we just got another one over them. I can’t really explain it. We expect to win every game at home and after getting two ties on the road, we felt it was important to win the third game of three games. If you can do that, it really puts you into a good position, so I think focus was there tonight and we were able to get a win.”

Thoughts on GK Nick Rimando’s saves:

“He’s amazing. I just think it’s normal now. He’s a national team goalkeeper and that’s the type of things those goalkeepers can do. He was a big part of us getting three points tonight.”

Thoughts on MF Ned Grabavoy’s performance and goal:

“Ned did great as always. I keep telling him, ‘get your shot off, get your shot off!’ And tonight he finally got it off and sure enough it went in. I think this could be huge for all of us because he could score one and maybe he will get a couple more and will get him to shoot more, because he’s got an incredible shot. This is great for us.”

Thoughts on midfielders getting shots off:

“I think it just takes a little stress off the forwards.  They’re going to get their goals, but if we can help chip in from the midfield, I think it will just help the whole team and just take pressure off of them. And it feels good to score. We do a lot of hard running in the midfield, so I think when some guys gets some goals, it feels good and makes you run even harder.”

Thoughts on the team getting healthy again:

“It’s great, but we still have a ways to go. Robbie’s [Findley] getting closer and that will be a huge boost for us. A couple others, Plata maybe isn’t 100 percent, but I think he’s close, so if we can get healthy it just makes us a better team.”

Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter

On if this was one of Portland’s better performances this year:

“Yeah. No doubt about it. We had better possession against the best possession team in the league. We had the better chances on the day. I thought we smelled blood in the water a little bit sixty-fifth to seventieth minute. We had three or four chances that should have been goals, and if we score one of those goals we probably walk out of here with a win. At the end of the day, they win the game because of Nick Rimando. He stands on his head. And they should give him a big bonus or make him a DP because they win that game because of him. He pulls the ball out of the upper corner [on] Gaston Fernandez, saves a point-blank save. On Alvas Powell. Those are goals. And we had more. [Darlington Nagbe] had one first half he made a save on. And then we missed some breakaways, too, where we didn’t get it on frame. We have to do better with those. The silver lining, even though we didn’t get the result, is we were the better team today. We deserved more. We didn’t get it, but if we keep playing like we did tonight, we’re going to be fine. We’re a only couple wins away from being over the red line. Lot of draws [in the league] today, the race is still very tight. Things will turn and it’s just going to take us getting that monkey off our back and getting that first win. But I’m very pleased with how the players executed the plan. I’m very pleased overall with how we defended. They didn’t get very many chances. And I’m pleased that we had the better of the chances as well. But, we’ve got to make the plays to win the game. But you also have to credit their goalkeeper, it wasn’t always poor finishing, it was a few world-class saves that preserved the win for them.”

On if he felt this was a complete performance:

“Yeah. Especially on the road against a really good team. When you’re on the road playing a team like Salt Lake, you don’t want to be in an open game. You want the game to be tight. And the game went exactly how we wanted it to go, but like I said in the sixty-fifth to the seventy-fifth minute, before they got their goal, we had them on the ropes and we need to finish our chances when we get in that position. That’s ultimately the difference in the game.”

On the chemistry across the back line:

“Salt Lake’s one of the better attacking teams in the league, they’re very good at home, they’re used to opening teams up, they’re used to being on the ball. They didn’t get many chances and they weren’t on the ball as much as they’re used to. And that’s a real positive because we play this team another two times and for our guys to know that the game went according to plan outside of the finishing, we can certainly build on that. Not just playing them again, but playing any team, in any situation. Even though we don’t leave with a win, we should leave with some confidence and optimism moving forward.”

On the message he’ll send the team after a fine performance but frustrating result:

“It’s going to come. I’ve been around this game long enough, I’ve been around teams long enough. I’ve seen games. I’ve seen teams that don’t get results. We’re not not getting results because we’re a bad team, we’re just not making a few plays here or there. You can see our team’s organized, you can see they have a good chemistry, you can see with the flow of the game that we’re playing well enough to win games. It’s going to come. There’s no doubt about it, it’s going to come. We’ve dropped some points, but a couple results in this league and things change quickly and we’re going to keep plugging away.”

On why he subbed off MF Diego Valeri early:

“I think you always make decisions based on the flow of the game and what you feel. I just felt that was the right move at that point in time. Seemed like he took a knock and was carrying that a little bit. So, I thought Gaston [Fernandez] went in and was really, really effective and Michael Nanchoff as well. Those two guys really gave us some energy and so it was a big reason why we got so many chances late in the game. But again, Nick Rimando was the man of the match and they, like I said, should give him a bonus for giving them three points today.”

On if he was surprised with Rimando’s performance:

“No, not at all. That’s him, and hey, over the years, he’s a big reason they’ve won games. Big reason, and others. I mean, you look at the group they have, and again, for us to play them toe-to-toe on their home field and have the better of them – chances and possession – that doesn’t happen very often. You guys will look back at that, but I don’t think that happens very often against Real Salt Lake on their home field.”

Portland Timbers MF Will Johnson:

Overall thoughts

“It’s all about results and we’ve got to step up and make plays. They’re plays out there that are there to be made. We have to face the reality that we have to be better.”

On if their tactical approach to the match succeeded:

“Defensively, we kept the ball, we frustrated them, but attacking-wise, it’s not good enough. You’re never going to win a game if you can’t score goals, so we’ve got to find a way to do even better than we did. For me, it’s not good enough. Saying that, we did well, but seems to be the case every single week now. So it has to change. It’s just quite simply not good enough.”

On Nick Rimando’s performance:

“I thought we had half-chances that were at him. You know, he’s a good goalkeeper, he makes the saves he’s supposed to make. For me, I don’t think he made any saves tonight that weren’t out of the ordinary for Nick. When you get in those chances, you have to get up there and bury it. You can’t just hit an inside-of-the-foot shot and hope it goes in, because it doesn’t work like that at this level. You’ve to go up there, with confidence, put your foot through the ball and score the goal. It doesn’t matter who’s in goal. If you hit the ball like you’re supposed to, it doesn’t matter.”

Defender Pa Modou Kah:

On if he agrees with Will Johnson that he’s tired of hearing “good performance, no points

“Absolutely, because sometimes it’s about the win, you know. It’s about getting goals and about getting the win. It doesn’t matter if, sometimes, you can have a bad performance and win, and that’s what happened to us today because I didn’t feel like Salt Lake had something. But you know, at the end, they got a goal and they didn’t play well but they won and sometimes that’s the way football is. So we cannot just keep on saying, ‘yeah we had a good performance, but overall, even though, it’s not looking good,’ but the hope is still there and I refuse to give up.”

On what he’ll say to his teammates, as a leader, after this game:

“For me, you learn from every game and seeing the way we played today, we played good, we had them on the ropes, we got our chances, and in soccer it’s always simple: when you get your chances, you’ve just got to make your chances, you cannot wait because on the other hand they might not have something. And there was not actually something, but [Ned Grabavoy] made something out of it and it became a goal, so at that part, we have to be more focused. But still, it is a long season. Our luck will definitely come and I believe in this team and I know that it will change – our luck will change for sure.”