Head Coach Caleb Porter
On bouncing back from D.C. United
I said it last game, I really thought in some way the D.C. [United] game went down that it could maybe galvanize our group, give us a bit of an edge. I think we came to fight for the club and the city, respect, and we knew we were playing a top team and I think we earned the result.
On Federico Higuain’s performance
He’s a really, really special player. I’ve said it and on top of that, he’s a really special guy. Great character. One of the best pros I have worked with. Top notch. Honest. Works hard, shows up every day and that’s pretty rare for a talent like him. A lot times the talented guys aren’t the ones that are always bringing in their lunch pail every day and fighting. He’s just such a humble guy. Really happy that he’s broken the record and couldn’t come to a better player and a better guy.
On Crew SC’s overall performance
I think our team and our players showed a lot of resiliency in these last three, four weeks. It’s not easy to go through the run we went through where you just, say ‘How do you not win?’, ‘How do you not get that bounce, that call?’ I heard the statement came out and those are things that unravel teams. There is one of two things that happen in this situation: you either get broken [and] the wheels fall off or you become unbreakable and our group chose the latter, and I don‘t think probably even they realize how much stronger we are now from going through that. I know I’m stronger, never gone through a run like that – in my life. It wasn’t fun and I hope I never go through that type of run again, but I think the biggest thing is the growth that this group made and the resiliency that they showed. Listen, this was by far our best performance of the year – by far – and to do that following the run that we had, I think is a tremendous statement about the group’s character. You saw once we scored, the confidence grew and so, for me, we were kind of scratching the surface and it was good to see the kind of football we want to play. We’ve got to turn around and do it again. We knocked off one LA giant and now we got to knock off another [Los Angeles FC]. We’ve got to keep it business-like, get back tomorrow, recover... But I think the group was excellent, they deserve all the credit. I thought it was a really complete performance. As far as the goals, I do believe in this sport that eventually if you are creating chances and playing well that you will be rewarded. That’s always happened for my teams and I told them before the game, this is the one – this is one where the flood gates are going to open guys and I also told them that I’ve been in this sport a long time and that they have as well and you get your heart broken in this sport – and we’ve had our heart broken quite a bit already this year – but I also told them, the reason we keep coming back is because we will fall in love again and there is nothing better than tonight. We were seduced again by this game and the football we played, scoring goals. The feeling you get with the three points – that’s what keeps bringing us back and I was really pleased to see the smiles on these guys faces because they fought through a lot and like I said, a lot of teams – I’ve seen it happen in this League, I think some people are thinking ‘that might happen.’ Not this team, not on my watch – not these players, no way.
On PRO’s Statement
I mean, exactly like I knew it was. It’s good by them to take accountability and to admit that, that it was not the right call. We don’t get the three points back, feels a little better that what we said wasn’t fluff.
On Crew SC taking their foot off the pedal
I think the complete performance, complete mentality, the grip on the game, the control we want to play with like we showed at the latter stage of that game, we just passed the game away and that’s just the type of thing I want to see out of my teams. That control level – to be able to manage a game and I just think again, when you’re not winning every game you don’t always have that confidence the whole time. I thought there were moments in the first half where we needed to fight through it, be a little stronger and put our foot on the ball and that will come in time but I think the key is, as simple as it sounds, we have to stay aggressive and we started the game aggressive – both sides of the ball. We were pressing, we were tackling and when we got the ball, we were cutting through them with possession – purposeful possession. That’s the football we want to play, it’s not just eye-candy possession, it’s ‘can we cut through the opponent?’ by breaking lines, getting at the back four and I thought we did that. It was effective. It was good to see but yeah, I think we took a little bit of our foot off the pedal and then second half mindset again – be aggressive and they came out aggressive and you see what happens when we’re aggressive.
On playing David Guzman
His fitness is good, we had two days. We thought about starting him, but I was comfortable with the group at the start of the game. You see we basically played the same team against D.C. [United]. I wanted to make a statement a little bit with the confidence I had in that group. I thought the continuity from one game to the next really showed, and that’s me. I learned a little bit of a lesson with this group – maybe at times rotating too much and I think this group can manage this window and do it. I think the confidence and the continuity that we went with two games in a row, also inserting Gaston [Sauro], let’s not forget about that. We talked a lot this which one Josh [Williams], which one Gaston [Sauro] is starting and we always thought this would be a great game for Gaston [Sauro] to be able to battle Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] and he is very good on aerial duels when [you] look at analytics. I think it was the right choice. You saw the group looked fresh. I think sometimes it is overstated and overrated – the rotation. You look at LA [Galaxy] the played the exact same group also and I think we learned we can do it. Can we do it the third game? I think so. Will we play the exact same guys? Who knows, we’ll see. We’ll keep our cards close to our vests on that [chuckles] but will we rotate four, five guys like we’ve been rotating? Probably not.
On smaller market teams vs. bigger market teams
I know the team I have, and I know the players I have and I’m very proud of them. I’m very proud of being a part of this club and I’m giving my heart and soul to this club - that’s what you’re going to get with me. You’re going to get everything I have and I’ve been giving everything I have, even in those five losses, I’ve given everything and I’ve made some mistakes cause I’m still learning the group, I’m still transitioning back in and learning the east a little bit and some little nuances of some of the past things that have happened to these guys and figuring out all the little stuff and I’ve made some mistakes in this transition, but I usually don’t make the same mistake twice. My point is, with this group, you’ll never hear me talk about not having talent, you’ll never hear me disrespect my guys, but in saying I know the team I have we’re not going to have more talent than LA [Galaxy] and LA’s [LAFC] and so how do we win? We have to win with the team. We have to win with the team and I said it to the guys before the game, a team that’s together 11 guys in soccer, can beat individuals and I thought that showed today and I’m very proud of the group and I like being in the underdogs, I’m an underdog guy as well. Not many guys have come in the path that I’ve taken. Even though probably a lot of supporters were wondering is this the guy, I mean I can tell you I’m the guy, I’ll figure it out and I will get the bus to where it needs to go, but you have to give me a little time to transition and learn, and I’m not going to be perfect either. But if you want a coach that is going to roll his sleeves up and work and fight for the club and the city and understand the team that I have and how we need to play to knock off LA, you got the right guy and you’ll see that more and more with the moves we make and how we evolve.
On facing Los Angeles FC
It doesn’t get any easier, I’d say they’re probably the best team in the League, in just the way they’re playing, the way they attack, the talent that they have, top team so it’s going to be a difficult test and they didn’t have a midweek game so it’s a real challenge, it’s going to be David vs. Goliath for sure. We played a game midweek and gave a lot and we’re a small team, we’re a small budget, we’re a small market and we’re going against the super-power in LAFC and so we know we will have our hands full, we’ll remain very humble about that but my players will not take the field with fear, just like we did not take the field with any fear today.
On acquiring David Accam
I like in my system to have one winger that’s a pocket guy and one winger that’s more of a penetrating 1-V-1 game changing winger, more of a true winger. For me that balance and how I like to shape my teams up, play narrow on one side and play wide on one side and threaten. He brings that type of guy, he’s shown he can score goals and get assists, he’s electric one v. one, he’s very clever, he’s creative, he’s got a lot of juice as I call it, he brings a little bit of that different type of threat than we had. So it’s nice to have options on the wings and have different types of guys, he’s definitely a different type of guy that we’ve had and I’ve watched him quite a bit when I was at Portland, tried to get him and were happy to have him and I think he’ll mesh in really well with Jonah [Jonathan Mensah] and Harry [Afful], they know each other well so that little bit of chemistry there I think will help and it will take some time, just like me to transition in. It’s good to see Guzman get into the game and you saw his quality right away, he wanted the ball every pass and I don’t think he lost the ball other than the one where he put it out of bounds, but the quality you could see right away. That was an interesting look. Kind of that four-three-three where we could basically pull three midfielders low and all those guys can keep the ball, they could all win the ball, so he gives us a little bit different dimension and look when Pipa [Federico Higuain] is out of the game and hopefully he’s not out of the game much. When you don’t have a second 10, I always feel like why play a four-two-three-one unless you have a special 10 and so I think what we’ve learned is that when Pipa [Higuain] is out we need to look for different options of formations to fit the next 11 in, otherwise there is no real reason to play four-two-three-one in my opinion.
Midfielder Federico Higuain
On Crew SC’s mentality as a team
I think it was a good performance from the team. Again, this is football, you know? You don’t have too much time to celebrate it, so we move forward. We are thinking in LAFC, another great team. We want to compete and we want to win that game too.
On whether he feels honored to hold Crew SC’s all-time assists record
I mean of course, it’s an honor, but I never go very deep in the stats, you know. I believe more in an idea of collective football. I really believe in the confidence that I have on my teammates, the confidence they give me to play football. That is football for me. Again, we were talking a lot this week because we don’t like what happened the last five games.
On whether it was important to score a second goal
“I mean, not because I scored that goal, but because it was important. You come from, a bad last three weeks, you want some calm[ness], you know? So, scoring a second goal was very important for all of us, and much more the third one. So, I’m happy, very pleased. Again, we were talking a lot this week, it’s nice to see that we still believe in each other. Because it is very easy to trust in your teammate when things are going in your way, but when things are not going your way, it’s much [more] beautiful to keep trusting in your teammate. That’s what happened tonight. I feel very proud of this group.
On what will be the key to defeating Los Angeles FC.
You know, MLS is not an easy League. You don’t know what is going to happen. It is very unpredictable. So, this is football. You have to go Saturday’s play compete, play your best football and win. Every weekend, you have a chance to be better than last game. So, MLS is a lot of up and downs. It is all about being consistent, being together, working hard, and playing good football.”
Forward Gyasi Zardes
On how important the first goal was for Crew SC
I said getting the first goal is extremely important because it forces our opponent to step out and press more, which will leave more vulnerable spaces for us to make passes that break the line. It’s always important to get that first goal just to get a team out of their comfort shell and we can try to get the second and get the third.
On the relief on getting himself a goal tonight
Yeah, it’s always nice to score goals, and through those difficult moments, your true character comes out. I stayed faithful to training extremely hard and my teammates had a lot of faith in me, and I respect my teammates for having a lot of faith in me, through the good times and the bad. It’s very motivating to know that and I’m just going to keep working hard to keep being a better player.
On what he has to say about what kind of player Higuaín is
Yeah [Federico Higuaín] is incredible, he knows where all of his teammates are every time he gets the ball and I’m just thankful to be here for that huge accomplishment of his. I’m looking forward to more, more of his assists and goals.