hansen celebration
Greg Bartram / USA Today


Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On his team’s performance

I said to the guys in the locker room that I was really proud of them. The reason being is that we had a game plan and it was going to take a ton of discipline by them to execute it. At half-time we came in to the locker room and we were disappointed. The message was just keep going, keep going, keep going, we’re going to get it, we’re going to wear them down. That’s exactly what happened and credit the guys, to their fortitude and the perseverance to just keep going and eventually get the goal.

On Niko Hansen’s performance

I think that it’s been hard to keep Niko [Hansen] off the field, to be honest. The way he’s been training, the way he’s been performing in games. He hasn’t gotten an opportunity yet. This week he’s looked good again and we really wanted to get him involved in the game. If you take out the goal, I think his performance was spectacular. I mean very secure on the ball, defensive work was excellent. In a debut for him, it shows he’s got quality.

On responding to Portland Timber’s goal

It was great. The first goal didn’t really phase us. Obviously it’s disappointing. We went about our business and kept moving the ball around and we really responded well.

On Jonathan Mensah’s injury

Right thigh injury. We are going to reevaluate it after the game.

On his team’s attacking ability

Yeah. We rely on those guys for goal production, for making plays that lead to goals, and an overall danger level that we can produce. I think Ethan [Finlay] had a different role today and he still adapted really well and to his credit he stayed disciplined and focused on what he was supposed to do and did a great job.

On his team’s motivation

I think so. I think the idea was to send a message that we are a good team, that we can hurt teams, and I think we did that tonight.

On Ola Kamara’s performance

I thought it was good, I thought it was very good. He’s been putting in, last week against D.C. [United] he was spectacular as well. We asked him to do some different things last week and this week he was great with his movement. I mean the goal that he scored was a great move and a great finish with his left foot.

On his thoughts of the second half

The guys are progressing. We knew early on in the season that it was going to be a tall order to be 100% match fit, 90 minute fit, but we need to make progress and we’ve been doing that in these last games. I think I’m pleased with the last 15 minutes of games, how we’ve been executing it, and credit the guys for being fit.

On Federico Higuain’s performance

A little bit in terms of where he was going to be positioned on the field, but in terms of his effectiveness he’s a phenomenal player and I think that he showed that today. The ability to pick out passes, to be secure on the ball, to bring his teammates into the game was pretty good tonight.

On his team’s defensive performance

They are a tough attacking team. It’s not easy. [Fanendo] Adi is, I keep saying it, he’s one of the best strikers in the league for sure and [Diego] Valeri is very good, very good combination play. I think we did pretty well. I would have liked to have done a little bit better, but I think it was some of our positioning aspects in the first half, particularly in transition, that we want to correct in the second half.

On offensive options

We need that. I don’t think it’s fair to rely on four guys all season. We need six-seven guys that can come in and produce goals. So it’s great to see it. We’ve seen the tendency in Niko [Hansen] in our training and in our friendly games, but tonight it showed that he can do it for real.

Midfielder Niko Hansen

On his reaction after the goal

It feels great. It took a little bit of figuring out to see if it was real. It’s unbelievable, there’s so many people you want to thank in that moment, my family, the fans and the team of course.

On his goal being the winning goal

All of those guys put in the work. I think we deserved getting the win today.

On feeling ready to make his debut

I think it was waiting for the right moment. I had a good week of training and I think I was ready to go in. It was just waiting and finding the right time for me to come in.

On his goals for the last 30 minutes

I think do what I do best. There’s different strengths for different players, and they know my strengths and what they expected of me. They told me to go in and do that.

On his nerves before going in

Of course, I was trying to catch my breath for the first five minutes. It was amazing, you’re always nervous going in to a big game like that, but there is a level of anxiety that is good for you, and I think that’s where I was.

On the comparison between MLS and training

It’s faster, there’s stronger and smarter guys. The level is higher.

On his mentorship with Justin Meram

He’s been one of the big guys that has always talked to me. He sees himself in me, a lot. He’s been a guy that’s been there for me and the coaching staff as well. I take a little bit from everyone that has helped out. It’s just learning as much as I can from those guys.

On the recognition that he receives from the work off the field

You have to be patient. I know you come in as a rookie and you want to play, but you have to be patient and wait for your moment and I think I’ve always been positive about it. I think I waited for it and took care of it today.

On his defensive abilities

It’s something that I always want to work on. I came in as a forward playing in college and the defensive work wasn’t as much as my role, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to work on. I think I did well today.

Forward Ola Kamara

On confidence from the win

We have got some momentum now and that’s a good feeling. Building up to the game you could see the energy in the group. Everyone wanted to win and we wanted revenge and I think that mentality and response was massive. I think that is something to build on and that was fantastic of us.

On moving better

It was nice to get three points and the first home win so we want to build on it and it’s Orlando [City SC] next.

On his goal

It bounced perfectly and I hit it hard left footed. I am both footed. I saw early on my first goal that the goalie was a little bit out so I planned early to hit it and it was a good touch. It felt like the ball almost didn’t touch my foot. It was that kind of hit, but it was still hard.

On sending a message

I think we just want to send a message to our fans and everybody that this year we are going to do a good job and be good this year. Portland [Timbers] was a good team and we beat them and dominated them as well. It was a good game. Our attack is dangerous.

Midfielder Justin Meram

On breaking down Portland and ending their three-game win streak

I think we just executed our game plan, moving the ball and having everyone play together, we knew our moments when to go forward. We knew if we went every time that’s what they want, they’re a counter attacking team and they’re very good at it with [Diego] Valeri. So I think we executed the game plan today.

On getting the momentum back after the first goal

It was huge; it’s one of those where they scored early. But we’re mature at this stage and we understood that there was a lot of game left and we didn’t put our heads down and you could see that, we scored two goals after that.

On sending a message after a slow start to the season

Absolutely, you saw the buzz during the warmups. We were ready for it.

On the message he wants to send

This is a team with a lot of quality, and we’re going to compete with the best of them.

On his personal contribution with two assists

It was good, I had couple chances inside the box early and if this one didn’t go in I wouldn’t know what I would tell you. The ball just kind of popped right there

Importance of that goal

That goal brings us back down to playing our game, we took a deep breath and executed our game plan.

On being in the 25-25 club

That’s cool, I didn’t even know that. I just thought it was an honor to wear the jersey of the club that drafted me and help out in any way possible. This clubs means a lot to me. I’m thankful for everything this club has given me.

On the reaction to Niko Hansen’s goal

I was so proud. He’s got a lot of quality, he’s going to be a hell of a player coming soon. In a big game like this, he responded very well. Defensively he was great, and then he was in the right spot and finished them. Scoring in your debut is surreal, I’m just really proud of him. Seeing his development, he’s been exceptional since he’s been drafted.

On his words of advice to Niko Hansen when he subbed in for him

I just told him to go out there and enjoy it. He did that and more.

On Niko Hansen’s resemblance to himself earlier in his career

I’m better looking. He’s definitely got a lot of talent on the ball, he’s very good 1v1. I do see a little of myself in him. Hopefully I can be the one to mentor him going forward.

On the versatility of the attack

The attack is good right now. We’re feeling good and we’re playing good. Everyone is clicking, and it’s good to see that. We’re creating chances every game, and we’re going to be in it.

On scoring three goals today

It was good, obviously we have to keep doing that at home if we want the fans to keep coming.

On Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s message and how the team responded

It’s always tough to give up one late in the first half. It was on me, I have to be a bit better job of not letting the ball to go to the outside back and letting him have a free cross. It’s one of those where we can’t put our heads’ down.

On scoring 13 goals since August 2016

It’s obviously a great feeling, it’s one of those taken step by step. I’m never satisfied, I always want to get better and I’m going to keep doing that throughout my career.


SYNC TO YOUR CALENDAR: Easily and automatically sync Columbus Crew's 2020 regular-season schedule to your phone!