COLUMBUS CREW SC SPORTING DIRECTOR AND HEAD COACH GREGG BERHALTER
On if he got what he was hoping to get out of tonight’s match
Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost, [we] thank Valencia for coming over after a fantastic season and qualifying for the Champions League [knockout stage]. It was a great season and they come over here a couple days later and put in a good, honest performance and I think you see the quality in their team. Playing against them, to give our guys that experience was great at this moment because we’re going to need everyone in the season. You get to evaluate guys and see what they’re up to and check their form. Overall, I think it was a good exercise.
On how Brad Stuver played tonight
He was good. He saved the one-on-one with [Alvaro] Negredo and had a couple other saves. He was good and it’s nice to see. Obviously, he hasn’t been playing that much and it’s been difficult for him at times, but it’s great to see when a player gets an opportunity that he takes advantage of it.
On what stage of development Stuver is at
I think he’s made a lot of progress. I think if you look how comfortable he was with his feet, playing out of the back under some pressure, that was really good to see. And then coming up with some big saves, that’s what we ask our goalies to do. Steve [Clark] has been doing it all year, or since he’s been here. It’s great to see Brad step up and have a good performance.
On how Romain Gall and Ben Swanson played tonight
I think that we’ll evaluate it and speak with them individually. What I would say is, by in large, I was pleased with a lot of the guys that haven’t received a lot of game time. Whether that’s Adam Bedell, Romain Gall, Ben Swanson, Chad Barson, Ben Speas, I think that they did a good job. Sergio Campbell and Kalen Ryden. It’s not easy to come into an environment like this and play in a game like that. I think that they did a good job and I’m pleased with the progress they’ve been making.
On what he said to Ben Swanson before he went onto the field and how he handled playing
He was certainly excited. Part of his job is to calm his nerves a little, be able to perform and I think he did that well. You didn’t really see the nerves and of course there were times when he made mistakes. But, overall the willingness for him to get on the ball and to want to make passes, that’s what I’m most proud of. It’s not easy for a 17-year-old to do that and he didn’t show any fear. I think that’s a good step.
On how Swanson will contribute to Crew SC this season
We’ll see. We’ll take it day-by-day. We wanted to get through the end of the school year for him. Let him finish that up properly and we’ll evaluate that in these next coming months. But I think it was a good step for him, especially for him to gain confidence and start believing in himself a little more.
On what stood out from Valencia tonight
So for me the most interesting thing is the way they change the tempo. They’ll go from a standstill to full-speed in no time, and that’s the major difference. If you look at the two teams, they’re able to really change their tempo and be effective, and that was good to see. I think that’s something that we are lacking; the off the ball, the guy on the ball who passes it and then changes his tempo to get into space and receive the next ball. It’s a high quality opponent. It’s a good team that we just played against.
On if Michael Parkhurst was a healthy scratch for tonight’s game
On the challenges of choosing tonight’s lineups
It was challenging. We wanted to get everyone game-time. That was the first priority. Steve Clark was the other healthy scratch. We wanted to give everyone game-time and we wanted to mix the lineups up a little bit, so it was challenging. Piecing it together wasn’t easy but I think both groups did okay.
On Adam Bedell’s placement as an attacking midfielder
He’s got good feet. I think that it gets overlooked because he’s so big people expect other things from him, but he certainly has good feet. We don’t shy away from putting him in those positions. What I would say is that we also had a different look when he was up there; moved him a little higher, then moved the wide guys inside a little more, so it gives us that flexibility and I think that was an interesting look that we had.
On Ethan Finlay’s health
[He’s] doing great. I would almost characterize him as a healthy scratch, although we know he’s not healthy – he has a broken toe. But if he had to go today, he probably could have.
On if Ethan Finlay will be available this weekend at Orlando City SC
He’s day-to-day. It’s also [a matter of] working with the doctors to assess, ‘is there potential for more damage to other parts of your foot?’ But, we’ll work through that in the next couple days and come to a sensible conclusion.
COLUMBUS CREW SC MIDFIELDER BEN SWANSON
On his first appearance with Crew SC
Yeah, it was really exciting. I knew Gregg [Berhalter] said earlier in the week that everyone was getting 45 [minutes of playing time]. So I kind of prepared during the week knowing that I was going to play. Throughout school today, I couldn’t really focus, I was just kind of excited just to be on the field and play against a top club like Valencia. I had my friends and family [at the stadium], it was incredible.
On what teammates were saying before he entered the game
Just ‘good luck, play with confidence, I know you can do it’ type of stuff.
On how he felt on the pitch
The first five minutes, I was a little bit nervous, but as the game progressed I just kind of flowed right into it. I kind of got adapted and touched the ball a lot and I thought it went well.
On focusing while at school today
A couple of kids saw that there was a friendly tonight and asked if I was playing and I was like, ‘maybe.’ But the whole day, I was just kind of wanting to get here.
On whether or not it feels different preparing for a first team match
I’ve never experienced anything like it. I just go to school Friday and on Saturday play an academy game, or something like that and afterwards go home. Where today, I have a pro game and I have my pro debut, and then tomorrow I go to school and take a final. So it is a pretty neat experience.
COLUMBUS CREW SC GOALKEEPER BRAD STUVER
On what he thought of his performance:
Overall, I think it was a great exercise for all the guys. A lot of guys that don’t normally get minutes were able to get a good 45 minutes in and I was able to play the entire game, which was great for me. Last year going on loan, getting games was a big thing. So, getting 90 minutes tonight is definitely something I needed.
On his big first half saves
Every big save like that, it’s definitely a confidence booster. Getting the first one, definitely was able to build off that, definitely get the confidence up. I had great guys in front of me that made the saves a little bit easier for me.
On if Alvaro Negredo said anything to him after one particular save
No, he just looked at me, just walked by and said ‘dang it.’
On the corners at the end of the match with everyone in the box
I guess that’s the good thing about friendlies, you can pretty much do whatever you want, nothing will go wrong. I looked over at the bench and Gregg [Berhalter] just kind of nodded his head and I was like ‘okay, so I’m going to make a 120 yard sprint’ and luckily the ball fell to my foot. I’m really, really sad it didn’t go in.
On if his shot attempt felt good off his foot
It felt really good, I mean, I thought I took a really good touch off the chest and I thought I hit it well, but there were just so many guys right in front of me that it didn’t go in.
On what he thought of Ben Swanson’s play
Ben Swanson looked good. He was playing the Tony Tchani role with [Mohammed Saeid] coming in playing his normal role and I think Ben did really well. I think he has been working a lot on his fitness and 45 minutes in a game scenario is definitely going to help his fitness out, but I thought his touches were good and I thought he bodied the bigger guys pretty well. He was able to use his body to shield the guys off and be able to turn there in the midfield. I thought he did really well.
VALENCIA CF HEAD COACH NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO
On the atmosphere of playing in Columbus at MAPFRE Stadium
It was very nice, very good for us. [The people of Columbus] received us very nice, [they are] friendly people. I think it is the idea of La Liga to approach those competitions, MLS and La Liga. I think it is important for MLS that big teams come here to play. Being so well received and [the people] being so nice to us, I was delighted, and we will come back soon.
On Crew SC’s style of play
I liked it. I think they are well organized. They try to make good possession of the ball, but it’s hard to play against us with this kind of possession. We are a team that presses very high and all our chances came from there. I think that’s a point, but I liked it. They tried to play football; they tried to reach the box, good players. It’s growing; I think MLS is growing. I hope it keeps going this way and one of these days, they reach the same level as us.