Columbus Crew SC
Head Coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter
On the momentum this win gives Crew SC heading into the playoffs
I think so, I think we got lulled into a different game state where we had some opportunities, we were pushing in front of goal but the quality wasn’t there and the urgency to score wasn’t there. Once they scored the 2-2 it was like “here we go again, wake up guys” and you saw the urgency. We stepped it up into another gear and got the goal six minutes after and were able to hold onto the lead.
On playing through bad weather conditions in today’s match
It was weird. With the wind and the rain, it was an odd day. The only benefit was that when we came in at halftime we knew what the score [in other matches] was and that helped.
On Crew SC advancing to the playoffs despite having poor form in recent matches
This was a challenging year. I am really proud of the guys for staying focused and battling through adversity. It wasn’t the easiest scenario that we had to deal with and the guys hung in there. They focused on themselves and they focused on growing together as a unit and as a team. It is nice to compete now in the playoffs and our focus is now on going to D.C. (United) and playing a really good game.
On whether Zack Steffen was injured
Yeah, he has a contusion on his forehead.
On the resiliency of Crew SC’s players
I thought it was strong. Again, with the conditions of this match, we came out the first nine minutes with high intensity and then you get delayed so you kind of have to calm yourself down and regroup again, but overall the guys did a good job in that and to come back in the game as well was nice.
On starting Niko Hansen as opposed to Pedro Santos
I think in this case we looked at the matchup and looked at how we thought the game was going to go and we looked for someone who could stretch the back line, and I think in the first half Niko didn’t do that enough, but as the second half started and more on he was better. You know, the type of speed that Niko has and the strength [he has] can really unsettle a defense.
On if former Crew SC players provided any motivation heading into today’s match
They did not. We had a chance to meet with them on Friday informally. And it is nice to see them back, a lot of them were a part of the original group that played here, and it is always nice to welcome them back and talk and reminisce about the past.
On managing the weather delay
We were dialed in sitting on phones and checking every minute and you’d put it down and be picking it back up. It was difficult, but I think when we talked about “when we come in at halftime we are going to know the results of these matches” then you get over it and you focus on performing in the first half.
On whether Crew SC needs to play better in the playoffs to be successful
That’s a good question. I think we have the capability of playing much better than we have showed in some of these matches, and I think now as we know elimination is on the horizon, if we don’t win I think there is a different mindset. And again, I think for us getting into this false sense of security being in fourth place basically three quarters of the season and never really attacking the top, it lulled us asleep a little. We have another gear as a team and [if] we want to win we have to hit that gear.
On Gyasi Zardes’ performance against Minnesota United FC
To me, it’s just a mentality thing. He was aggressive, and when he’s lively, when he’s aggressive, when he’s using his physicality – his strength, his speed – I think it makes a huge difference on the game and he certainly did that today.
On facing D.C. United at Audi Field
Well, I’m excited to see the stadium. We haven’t been there yet, so I think that’s a positive. D.C. [United] is a good team. I think they have good players. We’ll be prepared there. When you look at the match-ups, I don’t think there’s any one where you say ‘Oh, that’s an easy match-up’. I think all of the games are difficult. We know we have a tough task ahead of us, but we also know we’re a good team.
On the feeling heading into the Knockout Round
It’s going to be nice. It’s going to be nice to see that stadium. They have a different look than they’ve had in the past. For us, it’s definitely going to be a good game, and we’re excited about it.
On managing Crew SC’s back line
I think the way we’ve managed the center backs is interesting. I don’t think we’ve given the group the best rhythm by alternating them often, but what you see is that they are all fit. So now we have four center backs that are capable of playing, and against D.C. any four of them can play in the game, so we’ll see what happens
On Crew SC’s preparation this week
Recovery, rest, nutrition, game-planning, video and then a little bit of training.
On playing a D.C. United squad that is in a good run of form
The conventional wisdom says that the team that enters the playoffs in the last 10 games the hottest, usually wins. So, it’s going to be difficult for us.
On if there are parallels from last year’s Knockout Round match against Atlanta United FC and the upcoming match against D.C. United
A little bit. Every year is different. Every group is different. Every experience is slightly different. The crowd in [D.C.] will be a little bit different. It’s on grass obviously. And the team – the compositions of the team are completely different, but we’ll be ready to play. We’ll be ready to play.
On if Crew SC’s Starting XI is sealed
Well, I think everyone’s in contention. I think our job is to look at our options and pick the right option for that game, and I think that the guys who have been working all year, training all year, are in contention to play. Whether it’s that position or other positions, we have competition as well.
On if it feels good to score three goals
Definitely. I think it’s nice to hit the back of the net. At home we have been scoring. We’re going to have to change our goal-scoring record on the road, but we’re looking forward to it.
Midfielder Wil Trapp
On finding a way to win despite losing a two-goal lead
I think what we’ve been harping on the past couple of weeks is scoring goals, and then you get a guy like Gyasi [Zardes] scoring goals; that’s what you want. Your striker scoring a hat trick before the start of the playoffs was great for us.
On the team’s focus during the weather delay
Just keep doing what we were doing. I think the start of the game was excellent. I thought our approach, our focus, our intensity was really, really good to start the game. Then, obviously, you have that 45 - 50-minute break, but then we come out right after the break and score off the corner kick, so that was really good to see. Then, it was just about continuing that focus.
On the importance of getting Gyasi Zardes going before the playoffs
I think it’s huge. To continue to harp on what our issues have been the past couple weeks, it’s getting G [Gyasi Zardes] into good spots to score, and I think tonight, granted two of them were off set pieces, but the last goal was exactly what we want, a cross into the box and him scoring.
On Crew SC’s resolve and making the playoffs
It shows that down the stretch here we’re starting to come together, and that’s important as you’re starting the playoffs.
On Gyasi Zardes’ play throughout the year and his hat trick
Yeah, Gregg [Berhalter] challenged him before the game to show his athleticism, to make the centerbacks work, and when you come out with three goals it’s always a good sign. He’s a tireless worker with a fantastic attitude, gets himself into the right spots, and when he is on, he scores. That’s exactly what we want, and we want to give him confidence stepping into these games.
On being back in the playoffs
Anything can happen. It’s a new season.
Forward Gyasi Zardes
On his approach to tonight’s match against Minnesota United FC
Just listen to what the coaches expect of me. Gregg made a point before the game directed at me and I felt motivation to get the job done.
On Crew SC’s ability to use him and find a rhythm early
Yeah like you said, it was vital that we played a bunch of balls across the goal, on the face of goal. We have been working on it in training for the past 3 weeks.To be successful in today’s game is just great.
On Crew SC’s momentum heading into the playoffs
Oh yeah, I personally, I think that it is great that we end the season on a win. We move on to our next opponent and we keep progressing. Cause’ that has always been our game model, just progress every week.
On when he scored his last hat trick
Ah… College, four goals against Seattle University. In Seattle. Yeah, that’s the only one that I remember.
On the weather delay early on in the match
So, after nine minutes due to weather, we had to come inside for about 45 minutes. That’s always difficult for a team to have to cool down and warm up right away. I personally felt like we did a great job. Our physio staff [and] our captain [Wil Trapp] had us going mentally and prepared for what was at stake. So as soon as the whistle blew I felt like we seized our moment and our opportunity.
On the energy at MAPFRE Stadium
Before the weather and we had to come in I thought the stadium was rocking. Just seeing everybody on the field lines and the touch lines. It was amazing, it was incredible. Great atmosphere.