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POST-MATCH QUOTES | Columbus Crew SC vs. Minnesota United FC - July 28, 2020

Head Coach Caleb Porter

Opening statement

Obviously, tough result. You could see with the lineup we put out how strong it was and how much the group gave the entire match, and certainly at the end how much they gave, that we wanted to win this game. We wanted to advance in the tournament. I’m really proud of the team for the effort that they put in today. There were some things certainly that we need to look at and do better, some areas we need to improve in. Obviously giving up the early goal to a set-piece, we knew that was going to be an area that they were good at, where they looked to score on, and we go beat in the moment there. We’ve been very good on defending set pieces, but in that moment we got kind of stunned and when you’re playing a team like Minnesota that can now sit back up 1-0, the game becomes a lot more difficult.

We controlled the majority of the game. We had more shots, we had great positions to score. I was pleased that we just kept going, we kept pushing, we kept being patient. It’s difficult to break down 10 guys 30 yards from goal. That’s the toughest thing to do in our game. But I was pleased that we were able to finally break through and level the score. Really proud of that. We kept pushing and we found that goal. In a normal situation, we get out of here with a point. Obviously in a tournament it’s a 50-50 flip of a coin, and we would advance with penalty kicks. But we leave here with our heads high. You can’t take away from this group, what they’ve done in those first three games and how hard they played today. I don’t want to take anything away from Minnesota as well. They fought hard, they defended extremely well, they made it difficult. They didn’t have a ton of the ball, didn’t have a ton of chances, but they did what they needed to, and obviously on the penalty kicks, they made all their kicks, so that’s why they’re advancing and we’re not.

On the adjustments made to break Minnesota United FC’s backline

Yeah, I think we had a lot of good positions. We wanted to play through the lines, we did that, I think, at will. We were able to overload Ozzie Alonso with the shape that they were playing – they played a 4-3-3 – and they were looking to disrupt our build-up, Artur and Nagbe in particular, which allowed us to play through lines and find Lucas. We got in great spots. I thought we were a little antsy at times when we got in good positions. In the first half we over-crossed, second half I thought we were extremely patient, we circulated the ball. I still think we missed some crosses and I have to look at the runs and the position of the strikes and the other players in the box.

Listen: we gave up a goal, we came back, we leveled it and we lost on penalty kicks. So we go home, we rest up, we reset, and we throw everything into the season. We’re going to attack this season, this group is extremely hungry. We’ve got a quality group. I don’t really look at it as we lost – we ran out of time. And, of course penalty kicks, it’s a flip of a coin, so we’re going to leave with our heads high. I’m proud of the group. I do think we need to address some things, and that’s good. This is the first time we’ve tasted any disappointment since this season started. We didn’t lose one preseason game, we haven’t lost a regular-season game, so this is the first feeling of disappointment. That’s good. That’s good for our group to kind of taste a little bit of disappointment, to know we have to improve. We’re six games in, and as I said going into this game, we’re just scratching the surface of the team we can be, and there are some things we can definitely improve in. But by and large, it was a great tournament for us, we leave overall without too many injuries. We have a couple, but we’re in great shape going into the regular season.

On Minnesota United FC disrupting Crew SC’s build-up

I don’t think they really disrupted our build-up too much to be honest with you. We were able to keep the ball, we were able to play in between the lines, we were able to get crosses. I don’t think they disrupted our build-up too much. I just think when we got in position to cross or combine centrally – I have to look at it, maybe we can do a bit better there. But we still scored a goal, we found a way through. For me, the biggest takeaway is we can’t concede the first goal. Set pieces, those are things we work on every week and we’ve got to look at that. But once you concede the first goal, now they can sit in. But we still were able to break them down. It’s not like they disrupted us having possession. We had a ton of possession, and we got in good positions in the layers. We missed some shots. But you look at late even, we had tons of good position and shots. [Tyler] Miller had a great game and Minnesota battled. I wish we had more time, because I really felt we had them on the ropes at the end.

On the biggest thing he learned about his team during the tournament

We’re a good group, we’re a tight group, we’re united, we’ve got great chemistry, we’re mentally tough. Even at the end, there was only one team that was going to score. When you’re looking at the way we were playing and how we were pushing and for us to finally break through and find that goal, to level it. And I thought we’d get the winner. We had two, three chances to win the game. So we ran out of time there. Certainly IT wasn’t for lack of push or effort or hunger, we just ran out of time. Penalty kicks, ask anybody, it’s flip a coin, 50-50. We missed one, they made all theirs. We were actually pretty good overall in the PKs, but you miss one, they make all theirs and they’re through. Credit to them. Obviously, we respect their group, we respect their coaches. They did a great job defending deep after they pinched a goal. I think they had one shot in the first half on goal and they scored a goal out of it.

Proud of my group. We kept pushing, we found the ball, we ran out of time and lost on PKs, it’s that simple. We have a great group. This group can keep the ball, sd work hard, can break teams down; we still have to be better in that regard especially against a balanced team. We’ve got to look at moments and set pieces and transitions, I thought that there were a few moments where they got us in transition, but overall, I thought our emergency defending was good, our rest defense was good, but we’ve got a great group. Nothing’s going to take away from that. Obviously the first three games we showed that, and in this game we showed it as well. Funny enough, I think we controlled this game more than any others. We didn’t score as many goals at the end of it, but we had a lot of control in this match.

On what Crew SC will do after the MLS is Back Tournament

We’ll leave tomorrow. I honestly don’t know the schedule or the plans, because we didn’t prepare to leave tomorrow, so I need to get with my team administrator and find out when we’re going home, what the schedule is. Because nobody in this locker room, not one staff member, not one player expected to go home today. We wanted to stay here, we wanted to advance, we gave everything we had. We’ll go home tomorrow, we’ll rest up, probably give the players some time off, and then we’ll get back to work and we’ll prepare for the season to get back up. We’re hearing late August, so we’ll prepare like that’s going to happen.

Defender Jonathan Mensah

On how confident Crew SC is returning to the regular season with a good spot in the Eastern Conference table

I think we did a great job during this comp. We were together, you know, we’ve been doing everything together. We’re very happy with the progress we’ve made during this time, and we’ll go back home, get some rest, watch some film and clean up some things that we need to because during the second half, I think we had a lot of chances that could have capitalized on, but we didn’t do that. But that being said, I’m very proud of the team, we fought very hard and this is the end of the tournament, so we’ll just go back and continue where we left off.

On how Crew SC handled being down a goal and how the team can improve

I agree with what the coach said because look at the results that we’ve had from since preseason. This is the only time we’ve gone a goal down, and unfortunately, we lost on penalties, but we’re still going to keep on going. I think we’re a great team, and to be a great team you just need to keep working and improve on your game plan and I think that we’ve done that since this comp. started. We’re just going to pick up from where we left off, and I believe we’re going to come back stronger.

Defender Milton Valenzuela

On Crew SC getting behind Minnesota United FC’s defense

Like Caleb said before, Minnesota was staying behind in their lines. It was quite difficult to break them down. They took advantage of that and it was very hard to find spaces. Maybe we should’ve opened the field a bit more and filter some of those balls to those wider spaces, but it’s quite difficult to do it every now and then when you have so many players in a limited space. We tried to find our forwards, and our strikers did the best they could, but maybe we weren’t precise enough to give them the best balls they could’ve had.

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