Head Coach Caleb Porter
We’re real pleased, first and foremost, to, after two games, to have six points. Our goal coming into the tournament was in the first three games, to have nine points, because we knew those points would apply to the regular season and our ultimate goal of making the playoffs and winning MLS Cup. So, we’re happy to be two-thirds of the way there. We still have one more game to take care of, and then from there, we’ll start thinking about the rest of the tournament and the Round of 16. But it is nice to be through in the tournament. It takes a little bit of pressure off this third game, but, like I said, we’re not approaching it in any other way than we want to get the three points to close out the first three games.
On Sebastian Berhalter getting his first start for Crew SC
I thought he did a great job today. I think it was a good first start for him, a good first step. He’s a young player and it’s really important that young players make steps, and ideally you want to make steps forward. Sometimes a young player makes steps backwards, but he’s making a lot of steps forward right now. It’s great for him to get that first debut the last game, it was great this game for him to start and for him to gain confidence. It’s really important when you have young players that are cracking in to your team that they get opportunities to play, gain confidence, develop but, also you have to be really careful with young players, because if you throw them into the deep-end, they drown, they lose confidence and go backwards. Mostly, I was pleased that he made steps forward and gained confidence today, because that’s really important for a young player when they make their first start.
On Lucas Zelarayan adapting to Columbus Crew SC and being a cohesive piece of the Club’s attack
He’s a tremendous player, and I think he’d be a tremendous player on any team. As much as I’d like to take credit for what he’s doing, he’s doing it because he’s a quality player. We signed him to run our midfield, be the brains of our team, be a true 10, a chance maker, a goal scorer, and he’s really fun to watch, he’s a special player, and he’s going to be a special player for years to come in this League and in our Club.
I think what really makes him unique is that as good as he is, he’s really humble. When you’re making Designated Player signings, that’s a key thing, because when you’re bringing a guy into your locker room, he has to warrant the DP tag, but also, if you want a quality locker room with your guys, you need a DP that doesn’t think he’s better than everyone else, and so we’re really pleased that he’s not only a great player but a great guy, and that’s just as important to us in this Club.
Midfielder Hector Jimenez
On the importance of his connection with Gyasi Zardes
We got two games, two clean sheets and it’s something we’ve taken pride in. We’ve worked really hard during our time here. Our communication been well. Everyone’s been up for the challenge, and like coach Caleb Porter said today, I totally agree that Jonathan was also our MVP of the game today. As you see, he cleared everything off and he was a warrior. At the end of the day, we all step up in big moments, and we’re extremely happy to have six points, two shutouts and obviously we look forward to the game against Atlanta. By no means are we looking past them. We want to take nine points away from these first three games, and we’ll be ready for that test five days from now.
On how Crew SC dealt with New York Red Bulls’ style of play
Sometimes these games against New York Red Bulls are scrappy. It’s a game of first and second balls, and I think we were really good in those areas. We’ve shown we can play really beautiful soccer in some games, and some games, we just have to battle and be warriors, and that’s what the team did today and we stepped-up and got a good result.
On whether the team feels a sense of pride winning the first two matches in the tournament
We’re really, really happy with the two performances. We’ve been playing some really good soccer. It’s important that we keep our feet on the ground and keep moving forward. We cant look too far ahead, but we’re happy where we’re playing and hopefully we can move forward with Atlanta, get another three points, and go far in this tournament. The coaches have done a really good job preparing us week in and week out, and the most important thing is that we’re going out there and executing, so hopefully we can carry that momentum into the next game and further in the tournament and get what we put in.
Defender Jonathan Mensah
On the Club’s confidence on Lucas Zelarayan and his role
The Club actually looked at him for a long time before they brought got him on board. We’ve seen just a glimpse of what he can do. We’ve seen things he does at training, and we know he’s got more inside. We’re just happy to have him here. He’s such a great player and even a better person off the field. We’re in a great spot having him with our team.