Pedro vs. DC United
Alena Schuckmann / Columbus Crew SC

POST-MATCH QUOTES: #CLBvDC

Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On the importance of tonight’s match...

"I think we embraced it for sure. When you look at the start of the game, it had a lot of intensity in it and I think we made a statement early on in the game that we were here to play, so I’m really happy about that and I’m happy to get the early goal. Throughout the course of the match, I think it was on and off. I think that we could have been better at times, but the way I classify this is a real professional performance. We didn’t give up much, win 2-0, get a shutout. I think it was, with everything on the line, I’m happy with it."

On the danger created by Federico Higuain and Pedro Santos on set pieces...

"So I think we talk about this every week, but to say it again there’s two things. We have great service in Federico [Higuain] and Pedro [Santos] and we have guys making committed runs. When you have that, there’s a high likelihood that you can get on the end of balls and that’s what’s happening."

On the importance of earning home playoff matches...

"It will be important. I’m proud of the guys, that’s a good accomplishment. How many years Crew SC has been here and to have that record I think is special for the guys. I think to show that we want to keep pushing. We set an objective, we set a goal in the beginning of the season to be an elite home-team, I think our record stands for itself and now we want to keep pushing. We know that home-field [advantage] in playoffs is big."

On his team sustaining their current momentum...

"We have some challenges in front of us. We go to Orlando in a difficult place to play and we have to test ourselves, we have to see if we can get something out of that game. Then we go to [NYCFC]. In all likelihood they are going to be playing for something as well. For me, I’m looking forward to it and I think that the guys are as well because we have two very good tests before the playoffs and that’s what we are going to need to prepare."

On Artur’s performance tonight...

"So with Artur, we think it’s important to get guys that could potentially play roles minutes, game minutes. Mohammed [Abu] has performed well, but this was an opportunity for Artur to get a full game in, get used to the speed again after his injury layoff."

On the importance of returning to the playoffs for the veterans of his team...

"I think, I know it’s closing the door on great disappointment of last year. No one was satisfied with last year. The tone was set pretty early on in preseason about how hard we were going to work, of what we were going to do to get back to this point. Give the guys all the credit in the world because they stayed disciplined and focused enough to actually achieve it."

On his team picking the right moments to strike against opponents...

"I think so. They made some changes, so they had some fresh legs on there, but there was fatigue and I think that was a good example of things we want to execute in the game. Having said that, when I look at the score line, when I look at us playing out chances, I think it could have been better. We could have been cleaner, we could have had more opportunities, Steve [Clark] came up with a couple good saves, but we needed to test him more."

On the importance of Harrison Afful’s and Pedro Santos’ connection...

"There’s no secret that our wing-play, our wide-play is a part of our game and we need that presence to disorganize the opponent and today I think they had it working."

On Josh Williams’ performance this season...

"We knew that he was going to help us with veteran leadership. Having conversations with him in the off-season, I can tell that he has matured, he’s learned and he was primed to play an important veteran role in our team, being a young team. I’m happy for him, I’m happy for the way that he’s been contributing and competing in every game."

On Zack Steffen’s performance this season...

"I think Zack [Steffen] is steady, Zack’s a steady influence on our group. For such a young age, he does handle pressure very well. He doesn’t get flustered, he hangs in there and he makes the big save when you need it, so I think that Zack’s been good this year."

On moving on from last season...

"It was never stated. Half of these guys weren’t around last year, so you don’t need to talk about that. I think the mentality from preseason was very good, there was a renewed energy to fight and to compete and I think that partly why we’re in this position that we are now."

On the importance of getting Niko Hansen back on the field...

"When you talk about guys like Artur, Kekuta [Manneh], Cristian [Martinez], Niko [Hansen] is a guy that in a couple of weeks, in a month we want to have him back in the same form that he was in. What it does is give us options and those options are going to be important."

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen

On his team being in the position that they are at this point in the season...

"It feels great. The boys worked really hard tonight. It was a really good night for us, especially after last years end of the season and to clinch with two games left and to be able to get a better spot in the playoffs is good for us."

On evaluating the season...

"I didn’t really know how the season was going to go. I was kind of just focusing on training and working with Pat [Onstad] and the guys in front of me and just taking it day by day and game by game and getting better each day and I’m happy with how the season has gone but we’re not done."

On having more to play for this season...

"Yeah, for sure. Like I said we’re not done and the season’s not over but tonight is a good night."

On tying Steve Clark for most shutouts by a goalkeeper in his first year of play at Crew SC...

"It was good to see Steve [Clark]. He and I had a good relationship and it’s also hats off to the guys in front of me. They did really well."

Midfielder Wil Trapp

On his team’s performance...

"Yeah, I mean I think overall, it wasn’t our best by any means, but at the end of the day, a shutout, two goals, clinching a playoff spot, breaking the record for home wins for the club – a lot of positives came out of it. I think, we’re happy for the goals we achieved tonight, but I think we still have a long way to go if we really want to achieve more come the playoffs and getting a home game in the playoffs. So, it’s a good stepping-stone, but we are certainly not satisfied with the performance."

On his team’s subdued celebration after clinching a playoff spot...

"I think a big part of that is the fact that, yes, clinched a playoff spot, but we don’t want to be five or six in those spots. These next two games really are still massively important for us. The difference between hosting a home playoff game instead of going to Atlanta or Chicago is a big difference. So, that’s maybe why the locker room is a little more tame."

On bouncing back from last year and clinching a playoff spot...

"I mean, that’s what’s expected; we are expected to make the playoffs. Our quality, and our style of play, we feel like we should be one of the teams competing for MLS Cup every year. So, last year was obviously a major disappointment for all of us as players, the coaching staff, for the fans, for the club as a whole. This is where we belong, that’s what we feel. Like I said, it’s still a long way to go."

On how tough MLS is as a league...

"There are a lot of consistent inconsistencies I guess you could say, but for us right now, we’ve been consistent. We’ve been consistent with our mentality and in our training. The performances we’ve put out, even in a performance like tonight where it wasn’t the cleanest or sharpest, we still won 2-0 against a team we should beat. That’s a positive note for us."

On Artur’s return to the starting lineup...

"Each guy brings something different, we all do. It was good to get [Artur] back in the lineup and see his range and his ability to win balls. I thought he did a nice job tonight."

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