Head Coach Caleb Porter
It’s pretty obvious for everyone to see that the last twenty-five minutes were very poor. [It was] 1-1, [we were] up a man, [and] all of the things that you need to do to manage that type of game: understand the threat - which is always going to be a counterattack and usually a ball behind - understand how you control the game and keep the ball and create chances to get the second goal; understand the balance of how much you can risk up a man to get the goal; how much you have to keep balanced to manage the threat, those are all things that we didn’t do.
Of course, I’m the head coach, I take responsibility. I made the subs as well. A couple of those were subs that we had to make. That certainly didn’t help, with [Darlington] Nagbe and [Lucas] Zelarayan having to come out of the game. They were dead [tired], they were an injury risk, they played a lot more minutes than we actually had planned. But, when we went up a man and we drew the game, we felt like the load of the game would go down, and we gave them ten minutes more, but certainly those two subs don’t help. But there are no excuses. With the group that came in - the group that we subbed into the game - we have to keep the ball better and we can’t give away the goal. We fell asleep, it’s a ball behind [us], we didn’t manage it.
This one hurts. We can’t pile it on. The players, they’re very tired. It’s not one that I’m going to be negative about, even though it hurts. It hurts them, it hurts me. It wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t good enough out of me, it wasn’t good enough out of anyone. But these guys need to get home and we need to recover, and we need to win the next game. We have dug ourselves a hole. To make sure we have a home game [in the playoffs], we have to win the next game. Otherwise, we’re going to be on the road [in the] first round of the playoffs. So, we have to make up for this by getting three points versus Atlanta [United], and it’s going to happen quickly, we have three days.
On the mood of the team heading into Decision Day
I think we don’t have time to be disappointed. We have to move forward and look ahead, and we have to - with three days now to prepare - we have to look more towards what we need to do to make up for it. So, we don’t have time to dwell or be down. Obviously this will, tonight, hurt. We missed an opportunity. We missed an opportunity to get at least a draw which would have been okay, it would have been an okay result. But up a man at 1-1, we have to win the game. We have to win the game, and we didn’t. There’s a lot of disappointment in football and in sports, and this is one of those moments, but we’ll have the opportunity three days from now to make up for it. It’s the last game of the year, it’s at home, we have everything to play for and we need to win the game to make sure we have a home game in the playoffs.
On challenges in the first half and changes made at half time
I thought the last 15 minutes of the first half were better. It’s just, again, finding that balance in the back half of when to play through the pressure and when to play behind. We have some guys that aren’t getting those decisions right. We talk about it, we train it, we refer back to overplaying at times and we have to look at those situations. I have to look at how I can give better messages, but, we have a few guys that are getting caught on the ball, caught playing the wrong ball, over-playing and giving away chances and we gave away a goal. The plan was always - in the back half - to play behind the back four. Once the back four dropped off, then we would look to play through the lines to Lucas [Zelarayan] or Pedro [Santos] if it [the play] was on. But for some reason, we’re playing square balls into our holding mids under pressure. We knew that would be the case that they [Orlando City SC] would look to jump those passes. I know Oscar [Pareja] very well. I’ve played against his teams a lot and one of the main points of emphasis we had prior to the match was “do not play balls into the holding mids,” because that’s a clear trigger that they look to step on. For some reason [tonight], we did it. I have to look at it again: how are we missing the right decision in that moment? Because that’s not what we wanted to be doing. So I think at half-time the adjustment was what we said before the game: we get the ball, we needed Lucho - Luis Diaz - and Gyasi [Zardes] running behind the line so we can look to play them behind. If they don’t drop, we’re rolling guys in. If the back four drops on that, then we’re finding Pedro and Lucas in front of the back four. We have to work the space in front of and behind the back four. I think the movement wasn’t bad. It’s just that the decision on the ball wasn’t the right one several times. But I think the second half was better; [the] end of the [first] half was better. Then, I think defensively we weren’t compact enough. The back four were dropping when the front two were stepping and we just weren’t on the same page enough. When we were compact and we squeezed the back four up - and we pressed high and kicked the ball - we won the ball, and that’s our style.
I have to attribute, and this isn’t an excuse at all, but I do think a lot of it is attributed to fatigue. Mental fatigue. Some of the decisions - these are cognitive things that happen - the individuals that are making those decisions, aren’t really like our team. There’s no excuse and everybody is in the same situation, but some of those disjointed things are head scratchers that I have to attribute to fatigue. That’s the only thing I can understand. I told the players that they need to recover and put this behind us. I’m not going to pile it on them. We know we have a good group. I believe in my players, I really do. So, I am not going to be negative. They were tired. We have three days, we have to go get three points.
Goalkeeper Eloy Room
On what Crew SC could have done to limit Orlando’s chances
It’s difficult because you try to organize everything. Everything was fine until the moment of the goal. I didn’t see it bad, but I think you always have to know if you are one-man up. You have to take one long ball, and you always have to focus on the guy who is running. At this time we were not focusing on the guy, we were focusing on attacking. But, you always know you have to be ready for the long ball, and not letting the ball bounce is also a big thing. We didn’t win the challenge a couple of times in the box also. I saw [the ball] coming a little bit. We gifted simple balls away and that’s why Orlando got the ball back. I felt that sometimes we didn’t play like we usually play. I don’t know what it was, but it was difficult.
I think at the end we have to go on and still have to be confident. This game we lost, obviously, and I told [the team] that we have to win now. We have to only think about the win. So we have to look forward, for now.
On whether fatigue is affecting the team
It’s difficult to talk about other players, I don’t know how they feel. But I think that’s not an excuse. Other teams also have the same problems, the same traveling and the same rest. I think that’s not an excuse. I think we have to look to the other side and just be better. We cannot gift the ball away in those positions. We have to do better, we know we’re better, so I think it’s not an excuse to point at that.
Midfielder Pedro Santos
On the team’s performance in road matches
Honestly, I don’t know. We always try to play the same way, because we have our style to play, but it’s always better to play at home than away. We are a good team, and we always try to win every game, but sometimes on the road, it’s tough. But we need to be ready all the time, because every team plays away, and we need to be better away for sure.
On whether players think about getting a win on the road
No, like I said, we always play to win. So, our mentality should be “win every game,” away or at home. Obviously because we have not been getting results away, when the game started we talked and we gave everything to get the victory, but unfortunately we didn’t get the three points tonight or the other games that were away. But now we have to keep our heads up and focus on the next game at home. We want to win.