Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter
On what he was thinking in the final moments in the match:
Yeah, and to see it potentially all fall apart, but the guys hung in there, give them credit. Give both teams credit for a well fought match. It was a lot of give and take, a lot of different opportunities for the teams and you saw what our intentions were from the beginning. We wanted to score a goal and unfortunately didn't do so and then we let them hang in there and then they get the goal in the 93rd minute and hit the post in the 95th minute, that's soccer, but I'm proud of my team, I'm proud of the way the guys managed this game, but we're not finished.
On the tactics of beating the Red Bulls:
Well you saw how we played, it wasn't the typical performance by us, but we identified their strengths and we wanted to turn that against them and you've got to give the Red Bulls a lot of credit; they had a fantastic season and the way they play it works perfectly, they create chances off of their pressure and we wanted to eliminate that and I think we did a good job.
On how much last year's playoff experience has helped them this year:
If you guys have been following our team the last eight weeks I've been saying the same thing: we're tested and we're ready, not only because of last year, but because the end of the season the games we had to play and they're very difficult games, a lot of them away from home and we came through them ok so that prepared us for the playoffs.
On hosting MLS Cup next weekend:
Well you guys know Portland, the best team in the league away from home, so they've been good and it's going to be a very difficult game. They have some good players, I think I like [Diego] Valeri and [Darlington] Nagbe in the middle now working together so it's going to be challenging, but what I'm most proud of is that we get to bring the MLS final to the city of Columbus.
On if the last few minutes were the only moments he felt his team was in danger:
We played well, we didn't give them many good looks, many good opportunities, great defensive effort and what I was missing was the finishing touch on the goal, you know I've been telling you guys all week that I want to score and we wanted to score a goal so maybe that we could've been better, a little bit cleaner in front of goal, around goal, but I think by in large we controlled the game well and that's a good team Red Bull, they should be proud of their season that they had, but we did a good job tonight.
Forward Kei Kamara
On what he thought of the Red Bulls' chance in the 95th minute:
It was definitely one of those moments where I was saying, 'that's impossible, that cannot happen. There's no way they can get another goal.' Ref already said four minutes of overtime so there's no way another goal could come and then that ball hit the post.
On if he felt completely in control of the game before the Red Bulls' goal:
It was back and forth in the game, I have to be honest. They wanted to press us so they sent a lot of bodies, but we had our transition going forward because we know we're a possession type of team and we controlled the ball so much better than them.
On the importance of playing physical against New York:
It's good, it's funny because that's not our game. I played in Kansas City where it was really about being physical and going off the team and here it's about playing really good soccer and that's what we want to do, that's what we've done all year and they came in they wanted to be physical. We had to keep our composure and just be focused because we wanted this, we wanted this celebration. That's what we wanted more than anything else.
Midfielder Justin Meram
On the end result:
Defense was incredible for what, all 89 minutes, or whatever it was, so things like that happen. Give credit to them, they were fighting for it until the last whistle, didn't want to give up. So that was on their part. But you know, we held our ground and we're going through.
On Columbus' low key celebration:
You know, we took care of business, what we needed to do here, but you know the ultimate goal is not there yet. So there's no reason to celebrate, you know, we're going to stay humble through this win and next week is when everything you've played for, everything you've trained for, every game leading up to it - this is when it counts. Eastern Conference Championship - yeah it's good, but MLS Cup is when, as you said, the champagne will be out.
On whether Columbus felt any nerves after controlling most of the game:
No, [the last few minutes] was it. The defense was incredible, the midfield controlled the tempo and, you know, we kept them to minimal chances. I think we had better chances than they did in this game.
On momentum going into MLS Cup:
Of course, you know, we're pleased because we're going on. So it doesn't matter if it's the ugliest win or the prettiest win - or well, it wasn't a win, but it gets us through. So to come here and put us in a position for MLS Cup at home, and we did that.
On playing Portland:
You know we played them once, at home, and they had the better of us, but we're two good quality teams that play good football so it's going to be interesting. It's going to be an interesting match and we're excited as much as they are.
On Columbus' flexibility of play:
It helps us because we can switch from one identity to the next, you know. We're going to keep it on the ground and when we need to go long to Kei [Kamara] we'll go long, and so we're excited. Can't wait to be home with our fans.
On how last year's playoff result impacted this year:
It helped us a lot because, you know, we had an unbelievable stretch at the end of the season and that's what we had the year before and we knew, well, we can't be too high on that. We put ourselves in great position being the third seed last year and we're like alright, here we go, and we came out with a stinker. This year, we do the same thing, put ourselves in the same position and we knew that all that's behind us. Now it's time to really focus and you know we played against two really incredible teams.