Ola Kamara vs. Chicago
USA Today

POST-MATCH QUOTES: #CLBvCHI

Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On his team staying patient and how important this win was...

"It’s important. I think – obviously – Eastern Conference opponent, good opponent, second in the East; we knew it was going to be a very difficult game and it was a big win. What I’d say is that when you look at the first half, they had control of the first half and when we got control of the ball, I thought we tried to counterattack too quickly at times. I think the obvious ones you want to go after, I think the times when you can keep it and make them run now was going to be important in the game. Overall I think that we withstood a lot of pressure, we ran a lot, but the guys are fit and I think towards the end of the game they [Chicago Fire] wore down, they got tired and we were able to come and have a great ending to the game."

On Justin Meram’s performance...

"I thought parts of it were really good. We know what type of quality he has, we know what type of ball security he has and we know what type of elusiveness he has. When you look at him, Kekuta [Manneh] and Ola [Kamara], those three are a good three. All of them were on the scoresheet tonight, but also involved in some good plays."

On the importance of scoring a quick equalizer...

"I thought we actually controlled the beginning phase of the game and had some chances and looked like we were going to score. They got the goal against the run of play. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t control the second part of that first half, but I thought we started really well. I don’t think that the goal hurt our confidence, we kept going, a fortunate bounce and we were able to get the equalizer."

On the referee playing advantage before his team’s first goal...

"I think the referee did a good job tonight. I don’t want to get in the habit of commenting on the performance of referees, but I think overall it was a difficult game and they did a good job."

On the importance of his club scoring 1,000 regular-season goals all-time...

"It’s great. I think you take for granted what Columbus Crew SC means to this league and its history. To get the 1,000th goal is special, this is a special club, I think the fans have been there from day one and it’s nice to get that 1,000th goal."

On Waylon Francis’ performance tonight...

"I thought he played excellent tonight. He’s a guy that has had an up and down season, he’s always remained positive, he’s always remained team oriented and when guys get opportunities like that, it’s great when they’re able to perform. We’re really happy for Waylon and I’d give him a good performance."

On his backline’s performance...

"I think they did well. Chicago had a few chances, [David] Accam gave us some trouble, a couple of times in the penalty box we could have dealt with balls better, but it was a difficult game to play the way that they were set up. Bringing [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Dax] McCarty back, build up pushing the wingbacks high and then the other attacking players just alternating between the lines. It became a difficult challenge. The guys had to stay disciplined because if you moved and got out of shape, it was going to open up some big gaps and they’re able to stay disciplined and give a solid effort."

On the importance of beating a team ahead of them in the standings...

"I don’t know how much breathing room there is going to be after tonight. All of these teams are probably going to win. It’s nice. We want to show that we can beat good teams that are higher than us in the standings and I think that’s important. We didn’t beat Chicago yet this year, we tied them and we lost to them, and it was good to come on our home turf and get a victory."

On Ola Kamara’s time at Crew SC so far...

"I think Ola is a very clever player and his movement off the ball is exceptional. If you see the movement when Cristian [Martinez] passed it to him, it was great. The defense shifted to the left and he opened up on the right and was able to get the ball. I think his movement is exceptional, it’s great for him to have played in 50 games and the scoring rate that he has is an accomplishment."

On having Josh Williams in the middle of the backline...

"How many combinations is that? Seriously? 18 combinations man, that’s amazing. We’ve been searching, we’ve been searching for consistency, we’ve been searching for I think the right combination of the guys in the back and it’s been exhausting to be honest. The guys have hung in there and I think that’s the important thing. We gave Josh a challenge this week and said that you’re going to have to be vocal, you’re going to have to be leading them and I think he did a great job. Together with him, Lalas [Abubakar] and Jonathan [Mensah], I think the center backs played strong tonight."

On what happened when his team conceded the goal...

"The general rule is that when a player has time on the ball, you have to be prepared to drop. That’s the general rule and I think we weren’t prepared to drop. Dax [McCarty] had time on the ball, he was able to look up and we didn’t drop. That’s a fundamental error."

On Lalas Abubakar’s performance tonight...

"Disciplined. The message to Lalas is that you’re a rookie, you need to be humble, you need to work hard, you need to give everything you’ve got. The kid has amazing heart, he’s a competitor and it’s just controlling those emotions. I think he did a very good job of that tonight."

On if this victory will give his team momentum...

"I think in this league, any victory gives you some type of momentum, but you can’t get carried away because you know that the next week is going to be another dog fight. You’re going to be matched up with a team that can beat you and you have to be prepared. I think as you start stringing wins together, that’s momentum. One game is a performance."

On how his team counterattacked in the 3-4-2-1 formation...

"We need to find the balance, we need to find the balance. We are still a team that likes to control the game, Chicago had quality tonight and it’s going to be difficult to control the game against the quality of [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Dax] McCarty. That’s still our intention. We have to find the right balance between being deadly on the counterattack and controlling the game and making the other team work."

On the reasoning for Harrison Afful’s substitution...

"If you had to guess, what would you say? Yeah. So it wasn’t injury based, it was preventative. Harrison has been coming back from a hamstring injury, we pre-planned this sub before the game, only going to give him 45 minutes and not risk anything. I think these next nine games are too important to risk any type of further damage potentially."

On Harrison Afful’s performance...

"I thought he was solid. Harrison was locked in from the warm-up, you could see it and he was focused. He played a good game."

Defender Waylon Francis

On his up and down year in the lineup...

"My own performance was good, it was important. Because of all my teammates, I can perform well."

On making a big tackle in second half...

"It was important to have everyone on the team focused. Everyone was feeling the same. It’s important to get three points and will help us get more confidence."

On the importance of winning against a tough team...

"They are a really good team, so for us to win tonight it was really important."

On his assist of Justin Meram’s goal...

"I was feeling it tonight, I was really positive to perform well in this game. When the game started that’s what I was thinking about."

On continuing to play well after positive a performance...

"Yes, of course it’s going to give me good momentum. It’s important to continue to work hard and stay focused."

Forward Kekuta Manneh

On getting the equalizer tonight...

"I thought it was important. Every goal is important for us. It came real quick we didn’t expect it and I saw it in front of me so I was quick to react to it, I was fast to react to it, and I got to it and I hit it and fortunately it went in the net. It was good I thought it was a little bit of confidence. We believed that during the week we knew that we could get something out of the game. We played really well against San Jose, we’re very unlucky not to win that game and we believe that this carried a momentum, you know quality and that combination we would carry that to this game and during the week it was unbelievable. We think if we can continue that we can get the results and we can help them in the transition. I thought we did that today, everyone fought and we got the result and that’s what we need going forward if we want to achieve what we want to achieve."

On feeling comfortable in the system & Columbus...

"I think I am more comfortable since the beginning of being here. I love the way this team plays. I thought in the beginning it was a bit of a struggle, we did not adjust to each other. The team did not adjust to me, and I did not adjust to the team. And now I think we are figuring out the balance in between. We are playing more of my style and I am adjusting to all the guys on the field. I think it’s going well. I feel a lot more comfortable and I feel like I am a better player than when I first came in. That’s credit to myself and to the coaching staff believing in me and giving me the opportunity. Every single player wants an opportunity. Once you get it you get a run of games and you feel confident and you feel a part of the team and I feel like once I started playing that’s what the coaches gave me. They gave me the confidence they gave me the opportunity and they believed in me. So I feel very comfortable and I feel like I could help this team going forward achieve the goals and hopefully we can do that."

On what the win meant for his team...

"Winning against the best team in the league not having lost in a while, we scored two goals at home and we scored lock-in goals and we scored two goals at home and that’s mighty for us and only builds our confidence. And we think if we can do it against Chicago, the best team in the league, we can do it against anyone. Going forward everyone is excited. Like I said it started in the week on Monday. We came in and everyone wanted to win this game and the belief and the passion and competitiveness during the week was unbelievable. I think we need that week out if we’re going to be successful, so I thought it helped us a lot this game." 

Midfielder Justin Meram

On staying patient at halftime and waiting for chances...

"They [Chicago Fire] are a good team man, they had a lot of the ball and its patience knowing we are going to press. We did a great job in the second half when they dropped their numbers down and we were forcing our goalie to kick it and that helped us win the ball."

On the buildup to his goal...

"Great ball to Waylon [Francis], he’s really good at serving that final pass and finally my ass gets in the box and puts away a one touch finish."

On scoring the 1,000th goal in club history...

"Maybe now people will start thinking of this group here instead the team in 2008. We have a lot of quality guys and it means a lot to be up there with some of the key players in the past."

On tonight’s home win...

"Passion, desire, commitment collectively as a group with the will to win and get back on track. We have a lot of home wins here and we have to make them count. This was an unbelievable atmosphere and it’s so special when you score a goal and you here the eruption. It also makes it tough on the opposing team. Collectively it was a great win against a really good team and I’m very happy of the boys. I thought our defense was outstanding, I thought Josh [Williams] dictating the pace, communicating to the guys around him. I thought Lalas [Abubakar] and [Jonathan] Mensah were monsters tackling coming up to the line. [David] Accam, one of the best wingers in the league and you didn’t really see him. You give credit to Jonathan [Mensah] who shut him down almost all game."

On Chicago not losing when scoring first...

"It reminds the will to win and we put a solid performance together. It’s wasn’t easy, you have to chase a lot, make tackles and run back and you have to run back and when you win the ball you have to counter attack."

On his team’s fitness late in the game...

"Honestly, it was a hard week and this is what makes us good. Usually we’re a team that has the ball a little bit more, but the way they play dropping [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and having Dax [McCarty] back it made it a little more difficult on us, you saw our fitness without the ball." 

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