SPORTING DIRECTOR AND HEAD COACH GREGG BERHALTER
On how it feels after tonight’s victory:
It feels good. I think it was a strong performance from the group. When you look at the fact that we’re missing Federico [Higuain] and Kei [Kamara], the guys who stepped in did a fantastic job. And then Kevan [George], coming in doing a fantastic job. So overall, it was a good performance by the group.
On if tonight’s game was their best performance all season:
It was a good performance, I think, in a game that we needed to win. We showed up. But I’ve been telling you guys for a month now that the end of the season’s preparing us. We talked about how we’ve had a tough stretch, the games we’ve been playing are preparing us for these types of games, and then you finally get in a game that you have to prove yourselves and we did it.
On tonight’s defensive performance:
What I’d say to that is we play the way we play, and I think the defense, including the midfield, was very concentrated on pressing the ball when we lost it, immediate press after loss of possession. And then our balance – I think there was one time I remember in the first half when we lost a little bit of the balance and they were able to get on the counter-attack. Other than that, it was a very strong, balanced first half and game.
On the status of Mohammed Saeid:
I think it’s a slight hamstring, and we’re concerned for it. We have to take a look at the MRI tomorrow morning and figure out what it is, but we think it’s a hamstring strain.
On forward Jack McInerney’s performance:
Well he was great, his movement was great. I think it was causing D.C. [United] a lot of problems. The opening stretch of the game, we were pressing and pressing and pressing and getting close to getting that goal and it wasn’t coming, and I was starting to get a little worried because the chances were there. So, it was nice to finally get the goal, and Jack, that’s what he does. It was a fantastic finish after a good move, and that’s what we saw when he was in Montreal and it’s great to see that here again.
On if the current roster has developed to its optimal level:
We’re more developed I think. We’re probably deeper than we were last year, but having said that, after we leave this room, and after tonight, this game’s history. We’re focused on the playoffs. We’re not going to talk about this game next week, we’re not going to focus on it, we’re not going to celebrate it. It’s over. And the cruel thing about the playoffs is you lose and you’re out. So you have to be concentrated, you have to show up every game, every minute.
On if Crew SC is a MLS Cup contender:
I think we have a good team, I think we have a good team. What I would say, and correct me if I’m wrong, but every team in the playoffs has a chance to win the MLS Cup.
On evaluating the symmetry and performance of tonight’s lineup:
It was a little different today, how we arranged the midfield, but I liked it. I thought it was really good, and when you talk about symmetry and spacing, it was certainly there today. And credit a guy like Kevan for coming in the first phase of when he entered the game, he’s still adapting, he’s still getting his feet, and in the second half, he just exploded. His movement was fantastic. His ball control – getting it from one person to the next – was great. And look at the game Tony Tchani had, and Wil Trapp. When those guys play like that, it’s very difficult to get a hold of them, because you add a guy like Justin [Meram] and then Ethan [Finlay], who can stretch it, and our forward and it becomes tough.
On Michael Parkhurst earning the Kirk Urso Heart award:
Well what the team saw and what we see is Michael’s a guy that it’s a fitting award because he is the heart of this club and he is the heart of the team. He goes about his way in his own way, but he gets a ton of respect from everyone around him and he’s always there, he always shows up … we’re happy for him.
On the decision to substitute in Kevan George for Mohammed Saeid:
That was one of the options we had, and I feel bad for Kevan because you guys don’t see how much he’s improved. I see it every day, and he’s behind a strong midfield. His game has improved so much from last year to this year and he’s much more confident. It’s not a surprise that he’s starting for the Trinidad [and Tobago] national team. There’s no surprise there, and what we wanted is to give him a showcase to prove that and he did certainly tonight. He was fantastic.
On if there is any fear that the team may become overconfident going into the playoffs:
I don’t know. I think that there is a fine line between overconfidence and confidence, but we certainly want confidence. That’s a good thing. I’ll say it again, this last month and a half, with the opponents we’ve had and the road trips we’ve had and going into tough stadiums, hostile environments, this team is battle ready and battle proven. I think this was a good test for us again. We did a good job.
On if it is hard to plan and train when you do not know your next opponent until possibly Thursday:
It’s tricky, certainly. Our normal rhythm is we start opponent preparation, most times, on Thursday anyway. So, it will be in line, but we are going to have to prepare for a couple different scenarios, I think three different scenarios.
On what changed from the one-goal first half to the four-goal second half:
We talked about a slight adjustment in defensive shape and offensive positioning at halftime. But, it was the mentality, the mentality of the group was they didn’t want to lose this game. They wanted the second seed, it’s something we talked about, we’ve been talking about this for a while, getting the first or second seed. We had a chance today, an opportunity, and we didn’t want to let it go.
On the team preparation without Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain:
We didn’t talk about it much because you can’t change it. We knew we had to prepare new guys to come in and do their job and they did that. They fit right in and it was not much of a transition needed.
On if the belief of the players and supporters played a big factor in the win:
I think this was the best atmosphere all year, I don’t know what you guys think. But, it felt like it on the sidelines. It was a very intense atmosphere and I want to thank the fans for not only tonight, but also all year, because they’ve been behind us all year. I remember tying Toronto and it just being an awful feeling and you have a pit in your stomach and guys’ heads down and you walk over to the Nordecke and they’re cheering. That’s the type of support we have here. We appreciate that because it’s not always the case if you look around MLS, but these fans have been great.
MIDFIELDER ETHAN FINLAY
On how much he would have liked to complete his hat trick:
It would have been great. Credit to Bill [Hamid], and he made a lot of big saves tonight and he made another one in the 91st [minute].
On if he thought the team had this performance in them before the match:
Absolutely. I think the best part about the performance is how many guys we used tonight, whether it was starting or off the bench, they came in and played some huge minutes and played well. It’s playoffs atmosphere and for those guys to just step in and maybe didn’t have many minutes under their belt before, they played tremendous today.
On if this performance makes him feel as if Crew SC are MLS Cup contenders:
I think anytime you can go into the postseason winning and playing some of your best soccer, you’re on a good track. We’re extremely happy about it, but playoffs is a whole other beast, it’s a home and away and we have to be able to manage that. We didn’t do a very good job of that last year, so, if we could do better this year we’ll be just fine.
On how much Crew SC wants to avenge the tough New England Revolution series from last season:
We’re conscious of it. We’ll see what happens, who we play in the next round. Whoever it is, we’ll be ready this time.
MIDFIELDER JUSTIN MERAM
On how it felt when the momentum got rolling:
It’s a lot of fun. After the second one, I mean that’s the most important one. They’re going to come out, maybe make adjustments at half. They’re down on the road so they’re going to push numbers at us. So the second one was extremely important and then after that they just kept on coming and sealed the game up.
On how beneficial McInerney’s goal was:
It was great. His movement is great. It helps especially me to have more room so he did a great job. He should be proud, we’re all proud, and this game is behind us now.
On if he feels like if he’s playing on an MLS Cup caliber team right now:
Of course, that’s the only thing you’re thinking about. Last year was the farthest I’ve been since I’ve been here 5 years and here we are, we got second in the east, so it’s pretty exciting. This is the best time of the year so we just got to stay focused, be excited and get ready.