SPORTING DIRECTOR AND HEAD COACH GREGG BERHALTER
On attempting to break down a compact opponent…
I said at halftime, to us, it was a challenge. To us it was ‘can we rise to this challenge’ and still create goal scoring opportunities against a team that’s extremely compact. And that was the objective. We knew they were going to be really compact, and we had to try and break them down. And I think there were key moments, offensive transition moments in the first half where we got after them. Then there were moments when we turned them over and went after them. And (there were) some spacing issues where we got the ball into good spots and it was just finishing it off.
On if coach expected his team to win…
Well, first of all, I forgot to congratulate Harrison (Afful) on his first goal for the club. He’s been close all year and it’s great to finally see him get on the scoresheet, because he’s had a lot of attempts and it shows what an offensive threat he is. Regarding the question, I would say that those are always tricky situations to be in because you know that the guys they have are extremely motivated. You know they have a very conservative game plan, so we knew we had our work cut out for us.
On what he takes from the game…
We need more. We need more, no question. I think the guys dig in and they give a good effort, but I think we need to get more and then you win that game. Again, I think Toronto was very focused on getting the shutout, very focused on being very defensive, and I’m more disappointed with us giving them that goal. We got our objective, we scored the goal, and then it’s about being smart, staying in shape and for that one minute, we really lost our shape.
On if the margin of error is gone for this home stand…
As tough as it seems – and it is tough, I clearly wasn’t happy, I thought it was a game we should win – we’re five points back. We’re five points back. There’s a lot of soccer to be played and our objective right now, our focus, is on the next game, is on DC. And that’s all we’re focused on.
On what can be changed for improvement…
It’s tough. I’m not going to say it’s been a smooth ride. I think there’s a combination of factors that have led us to not playing our best and not getting the results that we feel we should get. For us, we think we’re a better team than where we are right now, but the table doesn’t lie. It really doesn’t. We’re in a situation where we focus on the next game and try and win a soccer game on Saturday.
On if a disproportionate amount of bad moments occurred because of the backline…
That’s not fair. I don’t think it’s fair to say that. The team shape wasn’t good on the goal. I wouldn’t point out anyone in particular. I think the team shape wasn’t good. We were way too stretched. That’s a moment where we knew we could hurt them on transition. So, give them a little space, let them come to us a little bit, stay nice and tight, stay organized, and we can get a counter opportunity. So, it’s not fair, I don’t think, to single out a unit like that.
On Ola Kamara’s chance right after the first goal…
I thought we were going to open it up. Strange turn of events, they actually get an injury and it helps their shape by the changes they’re forced to make. So, they were in trouble with the shape they were playing in and then they had to sub two guys out, and their shape became much better. They switched to a 4-2-3-1, a much more threatening shape and more compact defensively as opposed to the 5-2-3 they were running in the second half.
On if Toronto’s subs helped them get more chances near the end of the game….
We’re pushing; we were going for the win. We are committing guys forward and there is always that opportunity for the break, but we were not satisfied with a tie in this game. We wanted to go win the game.
On what was addressed at halftime to break down Toronto’s three centerbacks…
We identified some pockets of space at halftime that we thought we could exploit and that’s what we were going after. Having said that in the first half I think we had opportunities on the counter attack with Justin [Meram] and Dilly [Duka], but just missing the moments.
On the disappointment from the players….
The issue is we play on Saturday again. So how much are you going to destroy when you have to build it up for Saturday? We’re very conscious of that. These guys have to go in and put in a good and hard effort on Saturday with little rest, so right now it’s about getting 11 healthy bodies on the field.
DEFENDER HARRISON AFFUL
On his first goal…
It feels great, but I’m not happy with the result. For me, I always want to win. So, even though I scored, I think the result is more important than scoring. So we just have to step up our game and focus on Saturday.
DEFENDER MICHAEL PARKHURST
On his thoughts of tonight’s match against Toronto FC . . .
We take one point in the standings and it’s obviously better than zero, but we are disappointed not to take three, of course. That was the focus tonight and we came up short again. That’s disappointing, but we need to take a look at the video and figure out how to break down teams that are so defensive against us. I’m sure that’s not going to be the last team that comes in to our stadium and defends deeply like that and we need to see how we can break them down a little bit better.
On the short time between this match and the next . . .
It’s all about recovery and mentally getting ready for the game. Watching video from this game, learning from it, and then quickly turning around and watching DC [United], a team that we are a little unfamiliar with this year. We always know that DC [United] teams are physical, they play direct, they battle and they hang in there for 90 minutes. It’ll be a tough challenge for this team and one that we need to rise up against.
On his expectations of DC United’s strategy . . .
It’s possible. I don’t know for sure. Without a midweek game, maybe they come out and press us a little bit, but normally they get compact, make it difficult, and play on the counter attack. We have to make sure we are prepared for both.
On his team’s intensity during this match . . .
I thought for the most part it was good and Toronto [FC] made it difficult. Obviously straight from the first whistle they had 11 guys behind the ball and the desire was there. We were trying to break them down and we were trying to win the ball back quickly. I think that the mentality of the group was good. It was just disappointing that we conceded.