post-match quotes - 09.23.20

POST-MATCH QUOTES | Columbus Crew SC vs. Minnesota United FC - Sept. 23, 2020

Head Coach Caleb Porter

Opening statement

I think [these were] two good teams, [which] we knew going in. I definitely think they [Minnesota United FC] are one of the best teams we've played this year, especially in their belief and their confidence. You saw that in the end, they didn't give in, and they pulled a goal out and kind of made it interesting. I do think the score is a lot tighter than [how] the actual game went. We were pretty comfy overall in the match. We controlled large periods of the match; we had a lot of chances. At 2-0, we could have easily gotten the third, the fourth [goal], you know? But this is football. It’s one of the things we always talk about: when you least expect it you have a storm, you have something that pops up and the game changes and that's exactly what happened. They [Minnesota United FC] get a goal out of nothing. [It was a] good play on their part, on a cross and around the box and Lod, good finish. And now all of a sudden the game changes. We go from being 2-0, could be 3-0 and comfy, to now it's nervy. And I'm just really pleased that we were able to still grind out the three points. And mostly I'm very, very pleased with our attack. Our defending has gotten a lot of talk, and yet, I think quietly, we're becoming one of the best attacking teams in the League. You saw that on the first goal, it's one of the best team goals we’ve scored this year. [The goal was an] unbelievable sequence. There was a lot of control in the front half which is a phase oh play we always work on and talk about. And, just the purpose in that phase and how we broke them down. We've improved a lot in that area. It certainly helps to have Lucas Zelarayan in with a great finish, great ball by Pedro [Santos] as well. So, I  thought we were excellent today in the attack, scored two great goals, should have scored more and I think that’s the story today: our attack really carried us on the day to get those three points.

On Pedro Santos and Lucas Zelarayan working well together

They were excellent. Pedro and Lucas together, we are starting to see that chemistry gel. They are both very creative players, they’re very technical, they’re fun to watch. They definitely are really key to how we attack. Obviously, Luis Diaz as well and Gyasi [Zardes], that front four, when you put it all together the right way, you get great pace and power from Luis. He got in great spots, he opened the game up with the width and length, which is really important, and that sets up the space for Pedro and Lucas to be able to work those pockets in front of the back four and to be clever and creative. Lucas, on that one [shot] where he hit the crossbar, if he pulls that off, that’s another [opportunity] up for goal of the year. I just love his individual creativity off the dribble and his IQ and understanding of when to keep the ball and when to play killer passes. Pedro, he’s full of life right now, and it couldn’t come at a better time. These two guys are really playing well.

On giving young players the chance to play in important matches

I can only speak for myself and how I look at it: I think if you build your roster in the right way, you have to have a blend of experience and youth. Obviously, for the simple reason that you need succession planning and also, to execute the way that we play, you need energy and young guys bring that. I’ve never been a lover of playing young guys just to play them. For me, I want to find young guys that are good enough to play. Not just play them because you want to tell everybody you’re playing young guys. At the end of the day, my job is to win games and whether I win with 30-year old’s or 20-year old’s, it doesn’t matter. I have to win games. But I think if you’re doing your job right, you should always have a nice blend of experienced players and young players. I like that in my teams, but the ones that play for us only play because they’re good enough and I really like it when I have youngsters play. Because I do think, even though my job is to win games, that I have a responsibility as an American coach to make sure that young players come through. I’m pleased that the young players we’re playing are Homegrown Crew players and that makes me very proud. Because I want to give these guys a chance and I don’t think there are enough young American players getting a chance. College guys are coming in and not playing so it’s going to be the Homegrown guys. It makes me proud to give these guys the start to their careers, but they also have to perform. The coaches that are known for playing young guys and lose games, that doesn’t do them any good. So, you still have to win.

Midfielder Artur

On Crew SC’s quick and crisp ball movement on offense

I think we did well what we have been practicing, which is moving the ball side to side quick and since we have good players in the middle offensively, they’re going to close it. So, we have to switch the game fast, and we’re going to find the spaces. I think we just tried to do that and I think every time we did that well, we created something. So, I just think that was good for us in the first half, and in the second half they tried to manage that a little bit more.

On Pedro Santos’ goal

I think Pedro’s goal was amazing. Individual play – that’s what we need sometimes. The team [Minnesota United FC] dropped lower to try to block us, to defend us, because we kept the ball, and sometimes we have to make plays. So, I think he did very well with that, and also the assist and everything. I think we have a good balance now. We have Lucas [Zelarayan] back and Pedro and Luis Díaz and Gyasi [Zardes], so I think they’re all sharing the responsibility to create something, and I think it’s a very good balance for us.

On Crew SC’s cohesive play

When I do my job well, to try to build up and find them [the attackers], and they do their job well, to be open in space, to find the space, and also [to] keep the ball, it’s just very good for the whole team. I think it makes it easier for us - having good players at the top who find these spaces and keep the ball – and it makes a difference. For us, we want to play, we want to build up and create something, to good football –good soccer. And I think it’s just very good overall.

Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan

On switching places with and linking up with Pedro Santos

It’s something we talk a lot– finding space for each other. Sometimes he [Pedro Santos] comes in [centrally] and I play wide. We switch our positions so we can find more space. He is a player with whom I am developing an understanding and I enjoy playing with him. I’m happy with today’s match because we were each able to score and we feel better every time.

On preparing for the upcoming stretch of road matches

Without a doubt, we love playing at home. We are very at home but we need to maintain our game and rhythm on the road and continue to work and play the same way that we do at home. As you mentioned there is a stretch of matches on the road coming up. We need to mentally prepare for what will be difficult matches and, as I mentioned, continue to keep working like we have been. We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which we’ve been doing well.

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