Quote Sheet: 7/3/19

QUOTE SHEET

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Columbus Crew SC

Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
 

Real Salt Lake

Head Coach Mike Petke 
 

On back to back clean sheets and wins:

“My thoughts on the match are exactly what you just said, it’s on the positives. Six points in two games, four days apart, two shutouts. It’s a compliment to my team I think we could have played a hell of a lot better. Three points, great shutout and grittiness to keep the shut out and get the result, but it is far from what we were tonight. And again that is a credit to my players, not an insult.”
 

On the sentiment of not playing as well as expected, but still finding a way to win:

“That is one of the most important things. My first year that I was here, parts of last year and even a year or two before I was here, this team would have not gotten the result and that is a positive. The mentality and the grittiness, the determination, that is very important to building a team that you want to accomplish things with. It’s not always the tactics and it’s not always the beautiful play, it is about getting the result. Tonight we certainly did that and parts of Saturday we did that.”
 

On it being such a congested week, and team players knowing their roles:

“It is very important. If you look at our roster right now, healthy, we have two outside backs, that is it. Brooks, we consider an outside back hybrid winger, so that is a necessary change tonight and he stepped up. It has got to be a rotation with just three outside backs. It was good for Aaron to have familiarity with the left, even though that is not his natural. He played there last year. I thought they did well, they held it down, along with Nedum and Justen defensively, and Nick of course to get the shutout. It is comforting to know we can put someone like Brooks in, because he is familiar there and can get the job done.”
 

On Corey Baird:

“I think highly of Corey, as I do all of my players. I think it goes into what we said earlier, we just didn’t have a rhythm. I’m not talking about just Corey, I am talking about the team. So when you ask about Corey, I felt Corey had some very good moments, and just like everyone else, he also had some not so great moments on the ball. I thought our passing tonight was not very in rhythm, not very clean. We go back to what we said earlier, we got three points and the shutout and we found a way.”
 

On Sam Johnson’s speed:

“Maybe he was a track runner earlier in his life, he is deceptively fast. When you look at him, he doesn’t have quick steps, he has really long steps and he just glides. It is pretty cool to see it from the sideline. A long ball and blow past those two guys and great finish.”
 

On possibly practicing the goal:

“We’ve never practiced that play, I’ll tell you that. Part of our DNA, part of our philosophy is we want to find the highest option under control. That maybe wasn’t so under control, the clearance, but the look should always be the highest and then you build back from there. If it’s not on highest, then you look for the next progression of play. They followed the philosophy, and that’s what they did purposefully. It was a long, great curling clearance, and Sam timed it perfectly up front, and put it away with a great finish. Not an easy finish.”
 

On Columbus’ first 30 minutes:

“It’s two-fold. Part of it is on us, not being sharp, but also Caleb’s a good coach. I said it all week. Everybody kept talking about their results lately. He’s a very good coach and he knows the game. He had them set up in a way to disrupt us building out. He didn’t sit back as much as I thought he would because a lot of teams do coming in here, with the altitude and 3 game weeks. That’s the difficult part. Breaking down deep blocks, which they did get to. I thought that their pressure, stepping out and breaking lines and at times dictating where we were going to play through their pressure, was very good. When it opened up a little, I thought we were very good. We were a little sharper in the second half, but I also thought it got a little bit too back and forth. There were moments in this game that there were three or four transitions from box to box. It just became a really wide open game, but we got a bit sharper in the second half. I think we could have possessed it a bit more the last 15 minutes in the attacking half to kill the game off. But it’s three points and one-nothing.”
 

On finding form:

“I found it. We found the form that I’m looking for this year many times. Over the last three years many, many times. But when we don’t have that form, it gets ugly sometimes. We found a way tonight. We found a way to do it and we found a way last game. I thought we played better last game, but we found a way last game too. I don’t want to be mistaken here, and please disagree with me if you don’t agree with me, let’s make this an open conversation, but we have played some fantastic soccer at times over the last 3 years. This is not something I’m looking for, the first time we’re doing something. What I’m looking for is more consistency, and that starts with the coaches. The first day I went back after this game, I said, “What are we not doing to get ready for our off-ball movement, for our sharp passing. What are we not doing?” It’s not what we’re searching for. These guys are capable, and that’s why it’s a compliment that I’m saying this. They’re capable of so much more, but the end result we got the three points and we got the shutout. So I probably shouldn’t be this down.”
 

On Sam and Ned’s injuries:
 

“No I don’t, Sam happened very quickly at half time. Training Staff said he needed to come off, something perhaps with his quad. Nedum, I haven’t gotten the final word but, Nedum isn’t someone who goes down unless something happened. I'm sure we will have that update tomorrow at the earliest, Friday at the latest.”
 

On Everton setting tone:

“Everton we brought him in for a reason, we really research him and identified, he’s a true number Six. He's not a play maker, I almost look at him as how I was as a center back. My job was to win the ball and get it to someone who could make something happen. Everton does that, he was big tonight.  The reason why we didn’t just do a swap when we brought Sam out for Tate or push Corey up and put Tate or plata out wide was because they started to have some success centrally, because he was alone sometimes and really working. We decided to bring Nick in to help him out, but he was big tonight”
 

On balance of play:
 

“I’ve got to work on my body language because I agree with you, I show it a little too much. Yes, I wasn’t happy how much we played back tonight, but I think we have played back a little too much this year. Initially its on the guy with the ball  but when you look higher ahead there are things we are identifying, like who’s moving into space and when they move into that space if the ball doesn’t come how quickly are they moving out and somebody else is transitioning into that space. A lot of it, it’s not just the guy at the ball, perhaps you can say most of its not the guy on the ball. It’s the off ball movement, it’s easy for me from the sideline to see it and it's even ten times easier to go home and pause and rewind and see the gaps they can play into. I was a player, I know that when I went home and looked at the video and said “damn, I should have played that ball”. It’s a lot different in the moment when there’s pressure coming from all over. My point is I don’t think we played through the lines enough tonight, I think we played back too much and it’s something we have been pushing and it’s why you can see my body language on the side of the field. We are going to continue to push at that, continue to work on that because I feel we do have players that are capable of playing through those lines and we have player ahead of them that know what open space is. “
 

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando
 

On the group’s performance from Kansas City to tonight:

“I think the Kansas City game we were a lot sharper as a team. I think the back line again, the effort was there, the communication, the grit, and the fight was there. We weren't as sharp as I think we should have been. I think we might have a little bit of heavy legs with having so many games this week but to pull off that win and another shutout shows something about this group. I’m excited to get the shutout obviously, but the three points were most important.”
 

On the ball reaching Sam for the goal:

“Sometimes you need lucky bounces like that to go your way and I think we all can say in that locker room we didn't have our best performance tonight but again, we fought and the bounce went our way on that play. Sam ran through and did everything he can to put us up.”
 

On Nick’s upcoming 500th game:

“I’m not even thinking about that right now. I’m thinking about the win that the boys put in, the three points that moves us up a little, and preparing for that game now. When that game comes, if it's next game, there'll be a special moment for me but enjoying the three points and being happy for the guys in the locker room.”
 

On missing the game when he’s retired:

“Again, I'm taking one game at a time. I think we'll have a press conference in the near future, but again one day at a time and one game at a time for me. Tonight, yes, I take it in and I take it anytime we get three points in front of our fans in our stadium. And back to back wins is always good.”
 

On the team finding ways to win games when they’re “not as sharp”:

“I think it showed the last two games. It’s up to us to continue that grit and fight and just find ways to win or to tie. Two games isn’t showing that we’re a team that finds a way all the time, we have to continue to prove it, and the last two games, we did, so we have to continue that, continue the fight and we have to know that we have a lot of tough games ahead. Winning the games at home is important. If we weren’t as sharp the last two games and we still got the win, it shows something for this team.”
 

On what winning two games in a row does to the team’s mindset:

“It’s great. Good for the confidence. I think the focus now is getting our bodies back and our legs back. Two wins, six points, at home, in front of our fans is definitely a confidence booster.”

 

On Columbus catching RSL by surprise in the first 30 minutes:

“They were in a tight block. Anything we tried to play, we couldn’t advance and I think halfway through, me and Nedum (Onuoha) were talking, ‘We just have to go direct,’ and we ended up getting some chances playing ugly and just hitting the ball forward and fighting for that second ball. Credit to them, they were in good blocks, they ran, they knew when to pressure us. We weren’t sharp, our movement wasn’t as good as I think it should be, and we stress that every week. Again, it’s a win, it’s three points, and if we’re not moving and still getting three points, it’s a good thing for tonight. I think we have to be sharper in the future and especially in San Jose, where they’re a very good team and showing well the last several months. We have to be sharper, our movement has to be better and, again, we have to be strong in the back.”

 

On what Justen Glad brings to the team: 

“For me, Justen is still a young player and still a lot of room to grow. I think he compliments Nedum (Onuoha) well because Ned does give a lot of direction, so when we have two centerbacks on the same page, it makes things easier. I think him complimenting Ned and him complimenting the outside backs around that side. He does well, he listens, he understands the language, he’ll fight for everything, he’ll give everything he has. He’s someone that knows and will put his hand up when things go wrong. He‘s eager to learn and the kid won’t stop fighting.”
 

Defender Brooks Lennon
 

On the grittiness to get the win:

“I don’t think we played our best game tactically and in possession of the ball but sometimes in MLS you have to grind out results and we got a good goal from Sam in the first half. We were able to hang on to that 1-0 lead. The back four was good tonight, Columbus didn’t have a ton of clear-cut chances. Sometimes you just have to grind them out and that’s what we did.”
 

On getting the ball through the initial line:

“We weren’t moving the ball fast enough. We were taking too many touches on the ball and the movement wasn’t the best. But we addressed that at halftime. It got a lot better in the second half. It’s just one of those games that you have to grind out. It’s six points in the week now and we are looking for nine.”
 

On getting to peak form:

“We talked about this week that we are at the halfway point of the season. Now that we are halfway in we have to have that playoff mentality. We need to do everything we can week in and week out to climb up that table and get a good playoff seed. We are taking it one game at a time and trying to get three points out of every game. Going to San Jose on Saturday night is another great opportunity for us to get three points. Hopefully we can get nine points in one week and carry it through into the next week.”
 

On finding the way to the playoffs:

“We’ve had to grind out results in the last week of the season to get into the playoffs and we don’t want to do that this year. We want to be in the top of the table come playoff time. Grinding out results or playing well, it doesn’t matter. We need to get three points no matter what. As you saw tonight, we rotated the squad. We have a better depth this year than we have had the past two years I’ve been here. No matter who we rotate in, everyone is going to give us 100%, come in with quality and give us three points.”
 

Columbus Crew SC

Head Coach Caleb Porter
 

On the game:

“Should have been 1-1. It’s a penalty, and I’m tired of officials not giving us calls. This is actually the first time we’ve had one reviewed recently. We’ve had handballs, so it was good to finally get one reviewed. I don’t know how a guy who’s officiated 3 games in this league overrules a VAR that’s officiated over 200. It’s shocking to me, the game should have been 1-1, and it’s a penalty to me. 100%.”
 

On being up against tough results:

“We can’t be victims, but I need to stand up for my team. We get no calls, absolute no calls. We have not gotten any, all year, all season. Guaranteed if it’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the box versus J.J. Williams, a rookie, they’re not even looking at it, they’re just calling the penalty. The fact that an official who’s only officiated 3 games overrules a VAR, who recommends that he looks at it, is unreal to me. The official had a complete disaster. We can’t have officials who have officiated 3 games doing these types of things. It makes an absolute mockery of our league.”

On the young players on the team:
“I thought we had some good performances. Sosa performed extremely well. Bouba, he’s only 19 years old, played extremely well. On the goal, he probably could have recovered a little better, but I’m really pleased with him. I thought my group gave all they had, honestly. We’re going to have our heads up as we move onto the next game, but I can’t stand for this type of officiating and bias, and for me, I’m tired of it.”

 

On managing the frustration:

“Maybe I need to talk about it more. There have been a lot of games where we didn’t get calls and I didn’t complain about it. The one I did I got an apology from the league, because they agreed that it was a definite goal that they took from us. This is another one that is a definite PK, so I’m going to be the squeaky wheel and we’ll see what happens. I have got to stand up for my guys because that’s a PK.”
 

On the response:

“The response is just about moving on to the next game. I saw some good things individually today with some guys that hadn’t played. The first time was excellent. Again, it should have been at least 1-1. The second half was a battle, the guys gave all they had. We fizzled out a little in terms of chance creation. We could have been a little more patient. I thought we got too direct at times, but when you look at the group that’s in there, in the game, there’s not a lot of experience. You’re going to get that as time goes on, but that’s a 1-1 game.”
 

On the squad put on the field tonight:

“I think when you’ve got guys in the back that are inexperienced, they start to force things they don't stay patient. And obviously, we’ve got the guy up top with a couple guys with Sosa and JJ, . These guys are young kids and haven't played a lot of games. So there's a little bit of that. And when you learn from that, because we started the game really well, we executed extremely well, the better team in the first half: We should have gotten a PK. We hit the post, we had other moments where we should have scored, and Sosa had a really good chance. So those are some of those things. We're not scoring in those moments, I've been saying that, but I'll say it again. Same thing defensively, it's one ball over the top. It's a pretty routine play, and we have to make those plays. But today, we got a goal taken away from us.”
 

On if he thinks everything is going wrong for the Crew:

"I think everybody knows we're close. If you've watched the last three games to see how we played first half to see the chances to see how we limited the movement. You're not seeing that close, especially with the group that we have, which is a lot of the guys that don't normally play and without key guys––designated players. Two of them––obviously guys that are at the spine of the team that bring a lot of confidence and help us play the way that we want to play. And but I'm pleased with the group that we played overall with how they've worked. I can't say enough about their effort. I want them to live longer with their heads high. I'm assuming you get back to work and get some quick turnaround. We can't linger on this game. We can't have a hangover tomorrow. We have to put it behind us. We’ve got to get ready for Seattle. And we're going to have obviously the same group of guys that played in the last several games that we're going to have to select from. So we’ve got to pick ourselves back up and get ready to win the next game.”
 

On what to do to prepare for Seattle:

“There's no training really. We'll do a little on the pitch on Friday. Tomorrow we're traveling back a little bit. It's mostly sleep, rest, and nutrition. And we're going to do walk throughs and watch the video and figure out who's going to start. We have six rotations. Some of those guys did really well. You know we have a lot of fresh bodies as well that we can go to.”
 

Defender Harrison Afful

 

On the takeaways from the match:

“We had some positive moments, which is good. We had a penalty and the referee didn’t call it. We just need to take our chances. It’s over now so we just have to go home and correct the things we didn’t do well and make sure we stay positive.”

 

On what it takes to start scoring goals:

“I think we’re doing things right. We’re sticking to our game plan. Putting the ball into the back of the net is something we need to start doing. It’s something we need to work and improve on.”

 

On his fellow defenders:

“I think everyone on this team is doing their best. They’re doing their best to put the club at the highest level. We just need to stay together and stay united.”

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