HEAD COACH CALEB PORTER
On Crew SC’s overall performance
"Yeah, I thought we did a lot of good things today. Obviously, we were playing our first game without Pipa [Federico Higuain]. And we thought that in Pedro [Santos] he could provide that chance creation we were looking for without Pipa [Federico Higuain] based on how he had been playing - with a lot of confidence and he’s got quality and I thought he delivered. He really did - he was dangerous he found great spots and moments - scored a great goal. That was great to see because we’re going to have to manage the rest of the year without Pipa [Federico Higuain] and that was definitely a worry. I think we got it right and I think he’s going to do a nice job for us in there and we can change our system as well. Doesn't mean we have to go in there with him as the 10 every game, but that it's good to know that we can keep our system and just change personnel and slide him in. And I thought David Accam was very good as well. A lot of good stuff today but the disappointment - I thought there were a few lulls in the match and there was evolution on our part. A lot to build on but what we still have - when we have our hands around the opponent's throat at 1-0 and at 2-1, we can’t let our guard down. And I thought there were a couple lulls in the match that meant we conceded the goal, but I think it is something that we can for sure build on - we just have to continue to work. I'm pleased with three quarters of the match today. I thought we should - both sides of the ball - a lot of things that we wanted to see and we executed extremely well for the majority of the match. That's a good team too, that’s a very good team [New York City FC]."
On how the team adapted to New York City FC’s number of fouls
"I didn’t think that disrupted us too much. Obviously late when we’re trying to push to win the game - the game slowed and you could see they [NYCFC] were pretty content with the draw - got a lot of draws this year. They’re a good team though, knew it was going to be soccer game. I thought we played them [NYCFC] level and with a little bit more luck, a little bit more with an official at the end and we’re in on a breakaway."
On Zack Steffen as a player
"Wish I had a longer. I only had him for a short time and he's an outstanding goalkeeper - very complete. One of the most complete goalkeepers I've ever worked with and seen. He’s got it all. Obviously, he’s young so he’s still go to continue to make steps forward. He’s also just a top pro. Great guy. We’ll miss him, we’ll miss him, but we wish him well and we know he will do extremely well in the next phase of his career."
On Pedro Santos’ performance
"I think confidence - confidence, it’s big. When you’re not getting results, it’s tough to be confident. But I was so pleased with my group that they were able to show that confidence today - individually and collectively. It will continue to build and we can build on this. It’s disappointing to not get the three points but I think our confidence will continue to grow as a team and as it continues to grow then I think we will continue to get more and more complete performances - individually and collectively.
But Pedro [Santos] I think is really showing the ability to be a big-time chance creator and goal scorer. I saw it in him from the beginning and I was pretty bold about saying ‘he’s good enough to score goals.’ So, he’s repaying that faith and I think with Pipa [Federico Higuain] out, maybe he wanted to show that he's the guy now in there. And that was good to see, we wanted to see that out of him. To play the 10 and to wear that shirt - you have to have a swaqger, you have to have confidence - otherwise there is no point in us playing that system. You don’t play a 4-2-3-1 if you don’t have a 10 that can be the straw that stirs the drink and scores goals and creates goal. We know Pipa [Federico Higuain] can do it and it’s great to see that Pedro [Santos] can do it as well."
On David Accam’s effectiveness
"I think he’s settling in, getting comfortable. It's tough to transition midseason - doesn't know the coaches, doesn't know his teammates -he knows a few of them but doesn't know system - expectations. He hadn't played in I think four or five games prior to coming here so fitness wise I think he needed a little bit of work there. I thought it was extremely dangerous to set up both goals - both in transition. So that was good to see. We tinkered a lot this week with different formations and I thought I would change the system, honestly, early in the week. In my reflection postgame and now knowing Pipa [Higuain] is out I thought “we’re going to have to change the system” and I played a couple different systems this week and it just didn’t feel comfortable. I think if we made the right decision in sticking with our system. They were comfortable in it, you could see that and it's good to know as we continue to get guys back we’ll be okay. We know after this break we got 18 games left and there's no margin for error either. So, we got to take care of business and points are going to be at a premium. We will take the break to recharge will also use the Open Cup to continue to grow and build and hopefully gain confidence. Obviously, we want to play to win it. We are in it to win it, we’re not in it to just fizzle out, we want to win it. And we have to throw ourselves into the last two games in June. They’re home games and for me those are going to be - must win."
On dealing with the number of injuries the team has had this season
"It's my job and I've done it a long time, so that helps. I’m experienced and I've dealt with this stuff. I don't think I have ever dealt with this much all at once, but I've been through a lot of wars and lost battles, lost men and gotten punched in the face. You can never ever predict what's going to happen in a season and you have to be ready for everything and you’ve got to move on to the next thing and find solutions. It's been hard because you know we’re - I think we lost our fourth or fifth outside back today – and Connor [Maloney] went in an actually did a good job, so it was great to see, but it's been interesting because ideally you want to build week after week and you want to have continuity and when you don’t have continuity it’s definitely a bit tricky.
We’ve had to craft game plans based on what we have available and based on the opponent and how we think we can find a way to win. It is definitely not the way you want to draw it up but we’re managing it the best that we can. I’m confident the second half of the year you’re going to see a lot of the stuff you saw today - I really am. I believe in this group, I believe in the guys, I believe that we can still get over the line this season. It's not going to be easy it's going to be tight. We’ve dropped points and there’s no margin for error. But I've been a part of teams that made late runs and typically the teams I’ve had peak at the right time at the end of the year, so I think you’re going to see that when we start to get guys back healthy, we can play a little bit more fluid, a little bit more balanced in the way that we want to play, and our identity will hopefully come to life a little bit more and the continuity and confidence will come. But it’s been a real challenge. I feel like I’ve taken eight bullets to the head and I’m still up and living and fighting - that’s me. But for sure it has been one of the toughest seasons with all those things that I’ve ever had to manage. But in a weird way, I’m kind of enjoying it - taking bullets and picking myself back up [chuckles] that’s the only thing you can do. Only the strong survive and we’ve got a strong group of guys."
On Pedro Santos and Josh Williams’ injuries
"Yeah, Pedro [Santos] is fine, he’ll be fine. He’s playing inspired right now. He’s got some personal things going on with his dad back home and he left - as you know - for a week and I think he is playing really inspired right now. It’s great to see - we need that. Josh [Williams] said his hamstring got tight so we will see how severe it is, but I think he’ll probably be okay."
On the formation used against New York City FC and how it can help
"I think again one of the reasons we stuck with 4-2-3-1 - and I really call it more of them for 4-2-1-3. That line of three isn’t as narrow as a normal 4-2-3-1. We definitely played Robinho and [David] Accam higher, like you said. And I think we thought - even though our outside backs are injured and we’re probably not going to get as much width, we thought that front four were going to cause problems and I thought they did. So, I thought we got what we wanted to. You saw our plan was to step up on goal kicks and press - we gave them some problems on that. We wanted to disrupt their build up and try to turn them over and then counter from there and I thought we executed well on that. We were organized for the most part - against a very good team [New York City FC]. The first goal, we gotta look at that, we got broke down there- that was one of the few times we got broke down. The second goal was a pretty incredible shot from distance, you gotta take you hat off to the guy, but there’s lots of positives. That’s a good team [NYCFC], that’s one of the best teams in the League. We got injuries and we threw ourselves in the match, we’re managing things and we were up for it day and we can build on it. Of course guys, I’m disappointed, we dropped two points but I have to look also past the short term and say ‘you know what, we’re growing here and it’s coming’ and I’m really pleased with what I saw today."
MIDFIELDER WIL TRAPP
On whether the physicality of tonight’s match frustrated the team
"I don’t think frustrating is the right word at all, I think it’s just the way they wanted to play and you kind of have to deal with it."
On David Accam’s play
"He’s so dangerous in transition and when he gets the ball at his feet, he can run a play or something, so I think he did a great job. And both goals he basically created just by taking the ball and running into the space. That’s a great asset to have and I think he did a pretty good job tonight with that."
On Zack Steffen’s last game with Columbus Crew SC
"He’s one of my best friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with him now for three years and even time before that, just cherishing the moments that you have together and that’s just one kind of last embrace, at least here, it was a special moment."
MIDFIELDER PEDRO SANTOS
On when he knew he would play in the ‘10’ role
"After training this week, Caleb talked to me and asked if I could play the number 10 and I told him [I could], because I’ve played before a couple of games and I’m fine in this position. I always try to do my best for the team and today I scored a goal but unfortunately it didn’t make the three points."
On the positive takeaways from tonight’s match
"Like I said, we did very good things in this game, so for me we played better than last week, so it’s a good thing. But we need to learn from our mistakes and be better from these moments and now we have a little break and after this we have the Open Cup and we want to win to step forward and we will play our game."
On playing at a higher level this season than previous seasons
"I feel more confident than last year, for sure, and so things are going well and it’s better for me because as things come, I feel much better every game. Caleb gives me a lot of confidence and he pushes me every day. He gives me a lot of confidence, so I am very happy with my performance."