Quote Sheet: RSL 2-1 Portland Timbers FC

QUOTE SHEET

Real Salt Lake 2-1 Portland Timbers

Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah

Wednesday, October 14, 2020
 

Head Coach Freddy Juarez

On winning and going forward:

“It’s really important. Those three points are important. They’re critical, and also with the Colorado game not happening right now, we’re going to be able to have a long week of training that we haven’t had in a while. That will be good for the mentality and the vibes to lead into the Dallas game, so I thought it was very important. I honestly thought we could have been up by a couple more goals and put it away earlier, so it was nice to see that the guys have a good first half, and start the second half well too. We were creating chances and they made it tough on us. Overall, I’m happy for the guys. They put in the work, and I think they deserve the three points.”

 

On what you’re most proud of:

“The response from the guys. You’re playing a top team in Portland and we know specifically what they’re good at. They’re good in transition from defense to offense and I thought we did a decent job at that tonight. The response of us creating opportunities and being aggressive. The game tilted a little bit, we relaxed a little bit in the second half because we had the lead which shouldn’t happen and we’ll talk about it but in the first half we were 9-1 in shots and in the second half it went towards them and they were a little more aggressive on that. But you saw a little of everything there. We got the lead, then we had to fight for it. We got scared there for a few moments with set pieces but we dealt with it and all of the situations make you a better team. I’m proud of the guys. Portland is never an easy team for anyone to deal with. They have some very good pieces and exciting players. It was a very good team effort. We had to make three switches there at the end to close off the game. We had some back and forth and then we brought in Tate to close out the game and right away you saw some energy from those guys. They bought in to help the team get the result and that's all we can ask for. We ask that the group is all in until the very end and then see how it goes at the end of the season.”

 

On Damir’s set piece goal:

“I believe that's our eighth set piece goal. It’s one of the things at the beginning of the year that I wanted to really take advantage of, because I think it's a big part of the game. It's 100% Matt Glaeser. That's why I brought him in and he does an excellent job with the guys. That's the one-time in the game that you can, like American football or basketball, draw up a play and if it's run right and the ball is there, then you give yourself a chance and it was a great ball. Everyone set the pick that needed to, and the movement from the near post to the far post for Damir was perfectly timed and he scored. He was free in front of the goal and that's Damir. At the same time we need to get better at defending them because that's two games in a row where we allowed a goal and made it scary for us. Matt Glaeser is huge right now in the attacking area, but we need to get better at the defensive ones.”

 

On the long break ahead allowing the team to play harder:

“I don't know you would have to ask the players, but I think we were going to get the best out of our guys today. We had a very good talk a few days ago and I'm so proud of the group that they responded with this. At moments it's tough when you're in a situation like ours where you haven't gotten a good result in a couple games, you're a little uptight, you don't want to make mistakes. I was just asking the guys to free themselves. You know, ‘free yourself, you're a good team.’ I was very proud of how the team responded today and I don't know, I honestly don't think it had anything to do with the Colorado game. I think the guys were going to come out anyway. They know how important this game was. Great result from the guys. Unfortunately right now I'm looking at some of the other results that aren't going away, but we have to continue to go after it. If we do what we did tonight and come out with a good mentality, we give ourselves a good opportunity in the last few games. I’m so proud of the guys. They’re going to get a couple days off, they deserve those days off and then we have a good long week to train for an FC Dallas team that I respect a lot because they’re a well coached team. And then we see how we can take points from them. That's going to be the goal.”

 

On Martinez scoring:

“Love it. I told him today, just right now, he continues to get better. Today, I'm so proud of the way he held the ball. I thought in Vancouver, he struggled with his back to goal and really holding the ball up for us. Today, he fought for it and the result, he gets kicked and we have to take him off. People don't talk a lot about nines and how they have to be brave because playing with your back to goal is not easy. You're playing against center backs that are typically the toughest players on the team. They don't care about kicking people, so we saw a lot of maturity. I was asked the question the other day: What's it going to take for him to continue to develop? These games. That he embraces situations like that. I talked to him last week about being able to hold the ball for us and today I see him hold the ball. He gets a goal and he's confident, he's running in behind. You're playing against one of the best teams in MLS, and he shows that he's capable. Love that about him and that's how he's going to get better. It means a lot. He was disappointed in himself last week. I didn't have to go talk to him about it, because I could see it in his face. No need to bring it up. Any response with the way he played today is awesome. That's how you have to respond as a good footballer, as a good person, and as a good teammate.”

 

On Herrera finding room against the winger:

“No, we didn't bring that up to be completely honest. We did bring up that if we could freeze them up with playing central and then wide, that he was going to get time. Then I think he started spotting the guys making runs and to backtrack is that our guys made the runs in the first half. On three occasions, there were three diagonal runs where we came from the interior and ran across diagonally where you can just put in a ball. The way Aaron serves the ball, as long as you move for him, you know that he'll do a good job and he'll try to put it there. At halftime, we talked more about it. When Aaron has time and space on the ball and the forwards continue to give those movements, it's really complicated for them to defend. We didn't give as many in the second half but I think that shows the quality of Aaron and his tactical awareness. You see that they’re giving me this and these guys up top are making the runs, I should deliver it, and he did.”

 

Defender Aaron Herrera

On the quick start to the game:

“I think that is our game plan every game -- to be on the front foot. Our goal is to always score first, because whenever we score first we always play better. This time we were able to score and then keep going forward and that was the plan going in.”

 

On long passes into dangerous spots:

“It’s tough with a slick surface for sure, but those sort of range balls are what I’m always working on in training. Obviously today we were getting great runs in behind and their winger wasn't really pressuring me, so I was able to sort of pick those out. It’s a ball I’m comfortable hitting and as long as they keep making those runs I’ll be finding them.”

 

On shutting down Portland’s offense:

“Defending as a team, handling our 1v1s. They are a team on fire lately, I think they won their last five in a row or something. For me they are one of the best teams in the league, they show that year in and year out. They are a very deep team, so they can sort of keep guys on rotation which makes it a very tough team to deal with, but everyone just has to handle their 1v1s and as long as everyone does their job we give ourselves a chance.”

 

On treating the game as a must-win:

“100%. It's been a tough season so far. We’ve been sort of unfortunate in a lot of results, a lot of stuff hasn't been going our way, especially the last couple of games. We haven’t done well the last four or five and also like you said we’re getting into the final stretch here with five or six games left so yeah we’re treating every game like a final going forward for sure.”

 

On wearing Onuoha’s jersey in reverse:

“Oh, this old thing? It’s just so nice having this guy back. He’s one of our leaders in the locker room and on the field. Anytime we have him out there, we know we’re going to be a better team when he’s out there. He’s a big leader for us so he’s important and yeah, it's definitely a little fashion statement. I might wear it next game.”

 

On upcoming long break due to suspension of Colorado match changing the game plan:

“Coaches didn’t have to worry about any sort of rotation. We could just put anyone out there and know that they could leave it all out on the field and then we’ll have at least a week to recover. We got a couple of hard sessions in but mostly just gave ourselves a chance to rest because that was our only game. That was part of the talk before the game, Freddy just told everyone to empty the tank, don’t leave anything out there and it paid off.”

 

On personal development over the past couple of years:

“I think just continuing to build my overall game. Keep getting better defensively, keep getting better in the attack. That's something I’ve been working on a ton. Working on crosses, working on sort of going at guys 1v1 with confidence and just helping our team in the attacking third because I think I’m needed there. Just trying to be more of a leader out there and whenever guys sort of start getting down, try to bring the level back up. 70th minute, 80th minute, just keep guys going because that’s when the legs start to go and then your mind starts to go so just being on our guys, keeping them in it and just doing everything to keep the team moving forward.”

 

Midfielder Nick Besler

On executing the game plan:
“I think they might have been on a five-game streak there, and they’ve been playing really well. We played pretty well in the first half, we created some pretty good chances and then in the first five minutes of the second half, we created a couple of chances as well. If we maybe had scored those it might be a little bit more of a relaxing game, but those games are hard. They’re a good attacking team and those are the kinds of games you just have to battle. We probably didn’t play our best game of soccer the last 30-35 minutes, but sometimes you don’t need to do that to win. We just battled really hard and we gave ourselves a two goal cushion. Everybody put in a really good effort, and we managed to hold them off.”

 

On what he was trying to accomplish tactically:

“We set up in our traditional formation, and I think we wanted to play similarly to how we have been. A big point of focus though was to be aware of their transition. They’re a really good counter attacking team and they’ve got very talented attackers. The plan was to be aware when we lose the ball for the whole 90 minutes, to be aware of where their attackers are and to try to slow them down on the break, because that's what they're really good at and have been good at for many years now.” 

 

On slowing the transition:

“Well, it's definitely never as simple as just slowing down their attack. In the first half I feel like they didn't create as many chances partly because we kept the ball a little bit more. If we could have kept the ball a little bit more in the second half it probably would have been a little bit less stressful and we could have gotten control of the game. One part of slowing them down is to have the ball more and we struggled with that. It's a combination of everything, winning your headers, winning your tackles, maybe fouling them early before they can start a transition. There's a lot of things that go into it, but it really starts with buying into effort with a team like that, you have to be ready to battle for 90 minutes against them.” 

 

On the competitiveness of the league:

“In this league any team can win, especially this year -- It's been such a crazy year. There have been so many, I don't want to say random results, but it really is anybody's night, home or away. To answer the question regarding us, we did feel a little bit like our backs were against the wall. We know what position we are in right now. We know what our run of form has been up until tonight, so we almost treated this as a final tonight, where it was a must win. That's pretty much how we treated it and I think the first half we came out with a lot of energy and we were happy that we got the win.” 

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