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POST-MATCH QUOTES | Houston Dynamo 1 - 1 Columbus Crew SC | Oct. 24, 2020

Head Coach Caleb Porter

Opening statement

I think it’s a game you have to kind of keep in perspective, overall. We’re on the road, we traveled three hours on a flight [on the] same day of the game, playing on a choppy field, we go down a goal … I think when you consider all those things, I think it’s a good point. It’s a good comeback. Certainly, there are things that we can do better in the match. Some of that is getting some guys back into the team, getting those connections back, getting that rhythm, that understanding. Certainly losing Gyasi [Zardes] last minute, that was something that wasn’t easy to manage. We prepped all week with him in there, we prepped the last day with him in there, and [with] the very last shot of the training, he just kind of tweaked his knee a little bit. We don’t think it’s serious, but that meant he was going to be out for the game. We plug in Krisztian [Nemeth]. I thought he did okay. We didn’t expect him to be thrown into the deep end like this. He probably wasn’t ready for the minutes he played fitness-wise, but I thought overall he did some good things. I think it’s one [match] we have to leave the game and take the point and go home and rest, recover, and go again.

On whether Crew SC’s intensity was lacking at all tonight compared to the NYCFC match

I don’t think so. I’ll have to re-watch it [tonight’s match], though. I think it [the match] was two teams that you could see were playing a very tactical game to start the match. We were obviously compact in the middle block, which meant they [Houston Dynamo] were going to have a little bit of the ball, but they didn’t really create a ton [of chances] other than they had a couple of set pieces and they had the one in transition … but, they didn’t really break our block down -- but they had some of the ball … that meant for a slower tempo. Same thing: when we had the ball, they dropped off and I think it was a tactical game, more of a chess match. I don’t think either team created a ton, but I didn’t think it was because of lack of intensity. I think it was just more of the way the match was being played by both teams.

On whether the team left points following the 1-1 draw at Houston

It’s like I said at half time [during the TV interview], if you listened to what I said. If you really look at the half, we had the two best chances in the half -- really good chances. So, it could have been 1-1 [at half]. We give up a goal on a transition and we still have to continue to look at that. Obviously, as we get back into more of a rhythm where we have the ball more, which certainly was the case in the first half, we can’t get caught opened up and give away counterattacks and that goal happened in transition. I also thought you could tell that we needed some more time to get back in the swing of carrying the game with the ball and being effective in breaking down a low block. We haven’t had that type of game for four or five games, and so it’s going to take some time to get into the swing a little bit with that again. Of course, with Darlington [Nagbe] plugged back in and Lucas [Zelarayan]... we knew going into the game Darlington could play about 60 [minutes] and we knew Lucas could play no more than 45 so we kind of had a plan - as much as we would’ve liked the two together more - we had a plan of having one in then the other in.

I think there’s some positives on the day. I mean, a comeback, to be honest, on the road, a difficult place, probably the worst field we’ve played all season long - probably on the TV doesn’t do it justice - but it made for a very difficult game in terms of our passing and I thought you could see that we weren’t as clean at times as we could’ve been and should’ve been … we’ll look at that, we’ll clean that up. For sure we’re going to get better. It’s great to be healthy with Eloy [Room] and healthy with Darlington and Lucas and that chemistry will definitely get better and better as we go through these last four games now. 

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe

On returning to the field after an injury absence

It’s been about a month or so since I’ve been out, but it felt good being back there with the guys. Rehab, therapy, getting the knee stronger, and everything like that back in training, so taking all the proper steps and medical steps has been great. It felt good to be out there with the guys again. My fitness felt pretty good, my touches and everything on the ball felt good, [my] confidence. I just need more games to get 100 percent.

On his performance against Houston

I just tried to get on the ball as much as possible, to be an option for the back line and the keeper, and then trying to get the ball to the key guys in the attack. I thought we did very well at times with our possession. They sat back deep and did a good job disrupting us once we got in the attacking third. That was good on their part, but I thought [in the] second half we came out, pressed them well, and got on the ball a little bit more, and got some chances, and got going a little bit. They had some at the end of the second half, but overall, a point may be a fair result, but we wanted more. 

On midfielder Lucas Zelarayan’s performance after himself returning from injury

It was definitely good to see him out there. Obviously, he’s such a key player for us on the ball, so gifted technically. He finds those good pockets where we can find him, and he holds the ball, makes the right decision in there to play that final pass, and can score the goal himself. It was definitely good to have him in there. Defenses collapse on him, and it gives us a little bit more time and space on the ball: myself, the other midfielders and wingers. It’s good to see him out there.

Goalkeeper Eloy Room

On the team’s defensive performance 

They were really pressing from the start. There were some difficult moments, but I think, at the end, [in the] second half we did better. We pressed them more. I think we have to learn from it, but we also gave them a hard time with the press. I think, in the beginning, it was a bit difficult, but we didn’t have any problems in the beginning. The goal was a cross, and the guy shot. Unfortunately, I saved it, but it was not enough. We have to learn from it, and at the end of the day, a point on the road is not bad. I think we also had some chances to score, and we have to learn from that also. In these games, a couple of moments are really important. We had some moments, and we have to be smarter in some moments.

On returning from an injury absence

You always want to play the games, and you don’t want to miss the games, you want to help the team. I think this is good timing for us to come back, with five games before the playoffs. I think it’s important for us [Darlington Nagbe and myself] to get in a rhythm and train with the guys, get the connections right, then we have to be ready for the playoffs. For us, the game rhythm is really important, so I think today is good in our recovery. We have to go on and stay fit.

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