Keegan vs. Columbus Crew SC 3/17

POST-MATCH QUOTES: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC, 3.17.18

POST-MATCH QUOTES: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC, 3.17.18

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin

Opening statement…

Overall, not our sharpest day. We look at it as two points dropped when we’re in Talen Energy Stadium, so that part is difficult. Some positives, you’d say that the back four did a very good job. With Fabinho going out, I thought Ray Gaddis stepped in [well], and that’s not an easy thing to do as a reserve. He gave 45 really good minutes. I thought [Auston] Trusty and [Jack] Elliott were very connected and did a good job with [Gyasi] Zardes, and I thought [Keegan] Rosenberry was solid and played a really strong game. Andre [Blake] didn’t really have a ton of saves to make. Overall, not the most exciting game for people to watch, a lot of little things and tactical battles going on in the run of play, and neither team really created a ton of chances, but again, it’s early in the season. I still think we had a couple of good looks, it seemed, at the top of the box where our combinations were just a little bit off, so the final ball was bobbling or bouncing and Columbus was able to close us down. We weren’t able to get too many shots off on target. Having said that, we did have couple opportunities and half chances, especially toward the end of the game, where they made a mistake or two and we could have punished them. We weren’t ruthless enough on the night. A couple decent looks on corner kicks, but overall a point against a top team, I think, in the Eastern Conference: a team that’s organized, a team that’s disciplined, a team that passes the ball better than any team in our league. They’re a game ahead of us in terms of the fitness aspect of things. I think our guys have worked very hard but nothing replicates the games. Overall, a point. We haven’t conceded a goal yet, so there’s some positive, but still a lot we can work on.

On his young defense and if a scoreless draw is a good result…

I think we want to win games at home. That’s first and foremost. We’ve eliminated ties from the vernacular in training. We want to go for wins home and away, so we do still see it as two points dropped, but if you focus on the performance of individual defenders and you talk about the opposition you’re playing against in Columbus, and dealing with how complicated [Federico] Higuain is … the kid Artur, for me, is one of the top midfielders in our league that nobody really speaks about. I would say Zardes is in very good form right now. Not an easy test for young defenders to deal with the different things that pop up. Pedro Santos is a very dangerous player and their outside backs are always bombing forward. You have a lot of situations where you have to make split second decisions. You have to communicate things quickly. Overall, from a young backline, I’m really happy they’ve held up and done a good job. We just weren’t quite sharp enough, maybe, when we won balls connecting that first pass as opposed to dumping things along and not letting CJ have a chance to fight for it. I think that’s something they could have done a little bit better. Overall, I thought our passing ability in the first half was good. We were up around 60% possession, and then it flipped in the second half where they had a little more of the ball. Having said all of that, still a strong performance from some young defenders.

On how Columbus defended David Accam…

To be honest, in the first half in particular, they weren’t as aggressive throwing their outside backs forward. They stayed home a lot more, and I think that was to deal with David’s pace on the counter. The only times they pressed us was when we lost balls in their attacking third, so if they turned the ball over. That was the only time they really pressed, otherwise they kind of dropped a little more than a Columbus team usually does. Credit to Gregg, that did catch us a little off guard. It didn’t give David the time and space that he would have hoped. The plan going in was with Valenzuela and Afful bombing forward to play balls into the space that they vacated, and for the most part in the first half they stayed home. He still had some instances where if a ball bounced into his stride as opposed to maybe going off of a toenail, he’s through and in and then you start to see the havoc he can create. The ball didn’t bounce his way today, but at the same time we’re very happy with David. He put in a ton of work defensively, it’s 90 minutes under his belt at a new team, with new teammates. If you go through it, I think five guys have made a debut for the Union in two games. We’re not perfect, we’re not the complete finished product yet. You see little flashes that get you excited. Now we have to go on another bye week and prepare for Colorado, to go on the road for the first time this year where we know we have to improve.

On Borek Dockal’s debut…

I think he had some good moments. You can see his quality and how comfortable he is on the ball. You can tell that he can pass. He looks forward, but it’s also been a week where he’s really trained with the group. You see a ball played behind when he’s looking to play through. It’s going to take a little bit of time. Overall happy with the amount of minutes he was able to push. His body felt fine, I just spoke with him and he said the same thing – ‘my body felt great, I know I can play a lot better.’ Overall, it’s a first step and again, nothing replicates these games. He’s going against Trapp and Artur, two guys that really close the ball quickly. There’s not a lot of time and space. We didn’t put him on the ball as much as we would have liked. If you go back and just watch even the heat maps from the first half, Ale and him were both very much on the right and kind of on top of each other a little bit. We talked about the spacing getting a little better, and they did that in the second half; you saw Ale find a lot more time on the ball in the second half. He’s an incredibly talented guy. We have to do a better job putting him on the ball more. Overall, for a first opening performance, solid.

On Auston Trusty pushing forward…

I think in the modern game, the centerback has to be able to come with the ball. Gone are the days of the 6’5” guy who looks like he just got out of the pub and just kind of stands there and clears the ball. You have to be able to play with your feet now, and Auston and Jack are two guys that do that. We’re encouraging them to always dribble. It didn’t happen enough today where we created man more situations, so it’s not a good example, but by them advancing the ball, Higuain or Zardes has to decide, do I step to Auston or do I let him dribble? It changes the picture of a defense. We’re asking them to be aggressive. I think you saw how aggressive they were in that Jack and Auston each had four or five tackles 30 yards over midfield. They’re being brave, I would say. It helps to have the best goalkeeper in the league behind you, so you can be brave. They’re doing some things that are really good and I would say advancing the ball is part of his growth and development. The next step is now, can you keep going? Can you really make a situation where Columbus is in big trouble, and can you connect that pass? That will come in time. He’s making some strides and he’ll keep getting better by the day.

Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott

On the clean sheet…

I mean a clean sheet is a clean sheet. I think yes playing against that team definitely gives you more confidence having them beaten Toronto, Montreal and scored five goals already, so it’s good for us if we can keep going forward with that.

On playing next to Auston Trusty…

I feel like we’re very comfortable with each other so far and the system that we play, it works for us.

Philadelphia Union Midfielder Borek Dockal

On the game…

Our play as a team can always be better.  My performance could definitely be better but you have to start somewhere. It would’ve been a miracle if I played a perfect game today if I look at my preseason and difficulties here with my injury. I expect much more from myself definitely and I feel as a team we can be better also. It was not a bad game, we played a good team that had good ball possessions so it was a lot of running without the ball which is always difficult. We didn’t give them many chances which is a positive but on the other side we didn’t create enough chances for ourselves. If were the home team and we want to win, we should create a lot more chances.

On finding space in the pockets between the defenders…

For me it was the first game. It was about finding my space on the field to see how my teammates are moving and which kind of position I should be in to help the team the most.  I just have to learn from this first game and be better in the next one.

On some of the key things to take away from the game…

Similar to what I was saying before. I’m looking for positioning to find my spot on the field, and I think the next game is going to be completely different, because if you’re playing a home game, you expect you’re going to be playing with the ball. Today we met a team which is trying to do the same thing even though they were playing away. For me as an attacking midfielder, I feel like it’s always easier to play when have possession and are trying to create chances when we have control of the ball.  I think this game was a little bit different compared to the next one.

On seeing the speed of David Accam…

It’s always an advantage to have speed on the wings. I think we need to use the space behind the defenders even more in the next game. It’s always important to have speed on both sides but we definitely can use that speed much better in the next game because we didn’t use him enough. He was not able to show his abilities.

On the physicality of MLS…

I don’t think it was more physical then what I am used to but it was a little bit more open than I’m used to.  I was a lot of running up and down. In my opinion there were too many turnovers.  We would win the ball a lot and when we won the ball sometimes we lost the ball again to easily which we will have to improve in the next game. We have to keep winning the ball and be much more effective when we have control of it.

Columbus Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

Opening statement…

Anytime you are playing an Eastern Conference team a road point is valuable. Philadelphia is a good team. I think they have been improving year to year and now to seem to have a lot of the pieces that they wanted. It’s a good team, I think they will win a lot of home games and at the end of the day we will live with the point.

On the battle between Auston Trusty and Gyasi Zardes…

I think Trusty did well. A couple opportunities we got behind him and Gyasi had a couple chances but he battled. You have to remember how old he is. A centerback that young typically has positional problems, and sometimes on the ball they are not that confident. I do not know him that well, but I think he had a good, solid game and looked like he is a high potential player.

On his team’s defensive effort against Philadelphia’s attack…

They did a good job. We know CJ Sapong is a very difficult striker to play against. We know David Accam is probably one of the best one-v-one players in the league. You had the new player from the Czech Republic, Dockal. He is a good player as well. We knew they were going to cause some problems. Overall, beside the height of the line in the first half not pressing up high enough, I thought we did a good job.

On what to improve on for D.C. United next week…

We can always improve. We are going to analyze the game and look for things. We will pick it apart and we will find things. I don’t think there is a game since I have been around that we have played perfect. We will find some stuff.

On Gyasi Zardes fitting in to the team…

That is exactly what we want. You saw the chances he had today. The header and the two breakaways, also his running behind the line. That’s what fits well into his skill set, and that is what we look for in a striker. I think it is a very good match and then you add back to it that he is a high character person. He always wants to learn and is improving all the time. He is a pleasure to work with.

On his approach to the road game…

Throughout the years, if you really look at us we do not change much at home or on the road. There are still going to be moments when we high press on the road and no matter where we play we want to keep the ball. It is just about how effective are we in doing so. We want to keep the ball and we want to tire the opponent out. We want them to have to chase the ball. It is a very simple concept.

On going on the road to play…

I think from the outside it is a lot different from what is happening inside. From the inside, all we are focused on is playing well and developing our game and the team. The guys have been really good about staying focused on that. The issues that will come up this year will be normal management issues of a coach managing a team. Like the guys that are not happy with playing time. You will have some discipline issues that will come up. Things happen in a group and what I see right now is the guys are focused on improving and focused on getting better. They have been very close as a team and all of this has helped deal with all the stuff off the field and when we play, whether it is at home or on the road, we want to entertain the fans and leave them with a good experience.

On his first draw against Jim Curtin …

I think there were some chances that were not capitalized on. I think there was not potentially enough power in the game from both teams. I think we could have used a little bit more to create the final goal scoring opportunity. You need the impulse and the change of pace. I think some of that lacked. Overall, I thought it was a hard fought game. I give both teams credit for really competing and playing hard.

On the 13-game unbeaten streak…

We have a way’s to go. We are nine games away from the record. It is going to be difficult. I think the focus is on one game at a time. Next week we have a home game against D.C. United. We are most likely going to be missing some players. The next guy will have to step up and hopefully we can have a good game and a strong performance.

Columbus Crew SC centerback Jonathan Mensah

On the draw and the clean sheet…

It was not bad. Coming on the road and getting a point is very important, but a win would have been very good for the team. You know we will not say a point is not good for us. We just move on and focus on the next game.

On the defensive effort against the Union attack…

I think it was a collective effort. The midfielders helped us a lot. We worked on it during training and we knew it was going to happen. Accam wants to get one on one and come at us. If we do not defend together as a group, it is going to be difficult for us. We communicated well and we just defender two-v-one against them. It really helped us.

On the importance of winning at home next weekend…

I think the motivation is there. Going on the road and getting a point then going into a home game is good for us.  We have to be calm and capitalize on the chances we going to get. We just need to relax and just get ready for the next battle on Saturday.

Columbus Crew SC forward Gyasi Zardes

On the match…

A point is a positive factor, it’s a positive thing. Playing away is very difficult, Philadelphia is a great team. It’s a great point away.

On the team’s performance…

We had a couple of opportunities in the second half that were pretty big. Just was unlucky today.

On his form…

I’m always trying to work, even if I score goals I’m constantly trying to work. There’s always room for progress.

On returning home…

To be better than we were this weekend. Every weekend we want to get better as a team and as a unit.

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