post-match quotes - 7.21.20

POST-MATCH QUOTES | Columbus Crew SC vs. Atlanta United - July 21, 2020

Head Coach Caleb Porter

On assessing the second half of the match against Atlanta United

Hey listen: First and foremost, we were only team to date that was able to come into this tournament and get three wins. That says a lot about our group after being off for nearly four months. And so I’m really proud of the guys. That was the mission coming in for the first three games, and we’re very pleased to obviously to be 4-0-1 in the regular season. As far as this game, yes, second half, I thought we bent, we didn’t break, I was very pleased with that. We defended the box extremely well. These two guys, Harry, Andrew Tarbell, Bouba [Aboubacar Keita], Jonah [Jonathan Mensah], even Hector [Jimenez] coming in the game late, I thought they did an excellent job, along with Artur of defending the box, which in this game, we had to late. I would have liked to keep more of the ball, but we got tired. I thought we had a sub which changed the game a little bit. The way they played as well, they were aggressive. Clearly they had nothing to lose, they started throwing numbers forward, they have some dangerous players. But we managed it really well, but the mark of a good team is even on a day where maybe in the second half you’re not at your best, you still have to find a way to win, and I was very pleased with that.

On his confidence on the team’s bench

We have a lot of confidence. We’ve played a lot of guys in these three games. Nearly every single guy on the team has factored-in at least for one minute or more for every game, So that’s a great thing, you need that in MLS, I’ve said it time and again.  We’re going to continue to need it. We’re going to continue to need guys to come into games because in these conditions with the heat, a pretty short runway coming in, you’re seeing that we’re taking a few injuries which I think if you look at most every team it’s the same and that’s not surprising. You knew that would happen with the shortened runway and obviously coming off the four months. We’ll see what Youness [Mokhtar] looks like, Eloy [Room] is out for the next several games minimum, obviously Vito [Wormgoor] is gone. But we’re not missing a beat and that’s great to see. That’s why we have a squad and that’s’ why we have depth.

Caleb on the number of passes that led to Crew SC’s goal

My video guy thought it was about 18, 19, maybe it’s 17, I don’t know. It’s a great team goal. It’s something we talk about, we work on, it’s a part of our DNA. We want to dictate the ball in the front half but not just pass to pass, we want to pass with a purpose. We want to be very effective in breaking lines and creating chances on goal and getting in the final third and being effective with passing. And I thought we did that to start the game. We were good with the ball, I thought our pressing was excellent, we turned Atlanta over time and again, we made them kick and we played our game. And that’s why we scored the goal. We need to do more of what we did the first 25 minutes because I thought after that it was a bit more choppy than we wanted it to be. I thought the second half we could have kept the ball a little bit better, we could have squeezed a little bit higher at times. But you have to give a lot of credit to Atlanta – they were desperate, they threw numbers forward, they threw balls in the box, the went 1-v1. They’re a tough team to deal with. Like I said, we dropped in too deep at times but we were able to find a way. And even in a game that was a little bit ugly and it was survival at the end and there were some things that maybe could have got in our head -  as far as field conditions, we had to make subs we didn’t anticipate, even the official – those are things that we’re not going to make excuses ever. This team is too good to have excuses. So, I was really pleased we didn’t have to. I’m glad I’m not sitting here going “it’s a 1-1, that’s too bad.” Our guys know how to win, they know how to find ways to get the job done and that’s’ great to see.

Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell

On Crew SC’s ability to bring different guys on the field and have them step up

I’m new to the group this year, obviously, and all I can say is everybody’s ready to play. Day in and day out, everyone believes they’re going to play. So, just as a group, our mentality is so strong and we’re just ready, you know, from every man wants to step on the field and perform. And then when we get into games like this where we need to use everybody, everybody’s ready, and everybody supports everybody, and we’re just a good group like that. It helps that everybody is –  we’ve got older guys, younger guys, a good mix. It’s a blessing to be part of such a good group. Everyone’s ready to play, everyone’s a winner and we just proved that anyone can step on the field and play, so it’s a great group.

On how he stayed focused and ready for his moment and on how Jonathan Mensah commands the backline

Yeah, as a goalkeeper, you’ve always got to be ready. I train every day, I’m ready to go. It’s sad to see Eloy out with an injury. Obviously, he’s a big part of the team, but it’s my job to be ready when I’m called upon. So, I had a good week of training and stayed focused, and do my job.

I’ve got so much confidence in the guys in front of me, I mean Jonathan’s such a leader back there. His communication’s just so good, he just takes charge of everything. Same with Harry [Harrison Afful] on the right, Bouba [Aboubacar Keita] in the middle, Milton [Valenzuela] and Hector [Jimenez] on the left, communication’s so good, the movement between them is so good. They coordinate with the guys in front of them. Darlington [Nagbe] and Artie [Artur] get us out of trouble, we can find them whenever we need to. So year, I just had a ton of confidence playing behind this group. So, they definitely helped with our with communication and made me feel like I’m part of the team, and getting out there today was great, and it was nice to be back on the field.

Defender Harrison Afful

On his perspective on Darlington Nagbe, what he brings to the team

If you talk about Darlington, he’s on a different level, and he makes the game easier for us. Whenever we are in trouble, we make sure we find him. He makes things easier for us. So, as I said earlier – he’s on different level. We always make sure we find him when we are in difficulties.

On why the Crew SC is working so well this year

I think we are always confident initially. We stay compact, we don’t want to take any risk on the ball. I mean, we are always good on the ball, and also, we listen to what the coaches have for us, then we deliver on the pitch. I think that is keeping us going. We learn and we improve. And Jonathan as our leader, as our captain, we always try to help each other and encourage each other. I think that is keeping us going.

Harrison on wanting to get goal but also wanting to see out the game

I think the first thing is we came into the game with the right mentality. We always listen to the coaches. Talking about goals, whenever we get a goal initially, we go out there and try and also get another one, but if it doesn’t happen initially, we stay compact and we keep the ball moving.

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