Post-match quotes: Crew vs. New England Revolution

Reaction from Sunday's loss

COLUMBUS CREW INTERIM HEAD COACH BRIAN BLISS

On the game overall:

Yeah I expected that, when you’re down a goal and you make a couple of subs and you move some guys around the field you tend to lose a little bit of your continuity, that’s to be expected. The game was very sporadic, choppy, in terms of the flow, there was no rhythm. Between guys getting injured, guys laying down on the field, them doing what they needed to do in terms of eating up the clock, there was no rhythm to the game unfortunately, that’s just the way it was, it was their game plan and it worked and I can’t fault them [New England Revolution] for that.

On the difference from last game this game:

It always comes down to what you can get done in the last thirty or the final third. Last week we were quicker, sharper, more active I guess but today, as much as we were in their end, in terms of the possession and crossed balls, we weren’t as sharp and weren’t as alert and we came up short.

On the post-game message:

I told them I appreciate the work for the work for the last eight, nine weeks, it’s not easy to come in and change the mindset of the team, make a cultural shift in what we’re trying to do. I applauded their efforts to make that change and be flexible but at the end you still have to win games and four and four [record], yes it is better overall from where we were taking it in segments of seven or eight games but at the end of the day we came up short when you look at the whole season.

On his tenure in 2013:

You always want to win more games than you lose, five-hundred based on how we addressed segments of the season in seven and eight game blocks, four and four maybe gets you into the playoffs if you go five-hundred all year, if you look at the records you’d probably have to shave a point here and there but it’s certainly a lot closer to getting into the playoffs than when you are two and three games below five-hundred. Again, it’s not easy to turn a ship in eight weeks, but I think the guys adapted well in a short amount of time and were flexible enough in their mindset and willingness to work and I applauded them for that.

On the two injuries:

The game was being played, unfortunately in the air a little more and Aaron [Schoenfeld] is helpful in that area. He got dinged twice in the head and had to come out so that took it out of us a little bit. Bernardo [Anor] was under the weather in terms of his health but the guys that came in, they worked and did what they were trying to do but couldn’t get a spark going either and like I said that rhythm wasn’t very good in the game, it was a very choppy affair.

On the permanent coaching job:

I can’t determine that. I know what I did, I know how I view the game, I know how I feel the game should be played, I know what needs to happen in training every day in order to get to that result, I still believe in those methods, those views of the game and I’ll leave that to the others who are making the decision whether that is good enough to make a cultural change and an impact in that area. That’s not for me to determine; I’d say I’m biased, I think I got us on the right track but that’s for others to determine.

Thoughts on the lineup:

I think Josh [Williams] did okay over there, I don’t recall any moments where you said “oh my” over there on that flank. I thought Andy [Gruenebaum] made a good save at the end, we had committed a bunch of guys forward. I know he was kicking into the wind a little bit the first half so it was tough to get the ball out there but overall I thought he did okay and so did Josh for not seeing the field in a while.

Thoughts on the goal:

You can go back to six, eight seconds before it happened. I think Tyson [Wahl] had the ball out on the wing channel and had a chance to hook it down the line and get it in the air and it got picked off and he probably feels bad that he didn’t get it up the field and he probably would have been overly aggressive to win the ball on the ground, that went into [Juan] Agudelo’s feet. I’d have to look at it again but I think he probably got wrong-sided on him because he was trying to win the ball and that’s all it took for Agudelo to stand him up a little bit and now you have three, four guys running off of the ball.

Thoughts on playing Justin Meram:

Our goal today was to try to win the game but also to derail New England Revolution’s playoff hopes. We went to three in the back and we put the extra player high on the attacking side, moved Dominic [Oduro] up a little higher and Ben Speas wide. Justin had a few moments where he made stuff happen, he did okay over there. Look, you have ideas about substitutions before the game even starts, you have to have a game plan. You have a plan on the bench and you’re flexible with that plan and Justin [Meram] was in the mix before kick-off.

On end of game play:

I’m not a big fan of everything being old school, end line, whip in the box, that’s not how I like to see the game played but at the end that’s what they were giving us and we had to go with that. I like to move the ball and play it through combinations but it was very compacted in the middle of the field, it was tough to get a combination off, to get in behind them and that’s what we had to resort to. I’m not saying it’s the best way to play but that moment we have to take what’s given to us and the flanks were there to be taken

COLUMBUS CREW DEFENDER JOSH WILLIAMS

On his thoughts of the season:

New owner, interim coach. We fought our heart out for Brian [Bliss]. I hope he [Brian Bliss] knows that. He came in and gave us energy. We said we wanted to fight for him, and unfortunately we came out on the wrong end towards the end of the year. Going into the offseason, it is an uneasy feeling because nobody knows what is going to happen. I think it was important that we left it on the field, and showed everyone coming in that we fought our hearts out.

On the defensive performance during the game:

I felt that is what they [New England] wanted. To score first and sit back and made us [Columbus Crew] take it to them. Unfortunately we could not get one [goal], and some games go that way.

On how it felt to come back and play after being out due to injury:

It felt really good. Like I said before earlier in the week, you do not know how good this game [soccer] is until it is taken away from you. I think for three weeks not being able to play, it really sparks me and gave me this new energy, and made me appreciate the game. It felt awesome to come back out here and play in front of the fans.

COLUMBUS CREW MIDFIELDER BEN SPEAS

On his impressions of the match:

I thought the second half was hectic. We were trying to push to get an equalizer. They got that first goal in the first half. I thought we had them on their heels a little bit. We had a couple of good chances there in the beginning. It was hectic, pushing at the end. We wanted that goal to tie it up, but it did not come.

On if the frequent number of injuries and stoppages impacted the flow of the game:

Yeah. There were a lot of injuries. Eight minutes of stoppage time is not usual. They [New England] kept trying to slow the game, and it broke the flow. We tried to push, lump the ball forward, and chopped it [game] up.

On his season-ending thoughts to the fans:

We are so grateful and thankful. We wish we could have got three points this game and a lot of other games this year. Next year, we are going to be ready and are really excited to see them all back. We will be ready for next year.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION HEAD COACH JAY HEAPS

On the Revolution win:

It is a credit to all our guys. It wasn’t the prettiest game. It showed a lot more heart than any other game I have seen because there were situations where we had to fight and dig in deep. If you look at the possession battle we lost it, but every other battle I feel like we won.

On length of stoppage time [8 minutes]:

[Eight minutes of stoppage time] is an interesting number. We were trying to track it and we thought It would maybe be somewhere in the four or five range. When eight came up we were a little taken back. It was only fitting. We’ve had everything kind of stacked against us with injuries, calls going against us, goals taken back, and we had to just dig deep and eight minutes was kind of fitting to make sure we got through it.

On the New England defense:

Other than an early mistake, where we were trying to open up a little bit and Matt Reiss made a huge save there. We really were tight. I think Matt had an excellent game and was a calm presence between guys who were really trying to fight for everything. Our back line was excellent – A.J. [Soares], Jose [Goncalves], [Andrew] Farrell – a team effort all the way around.

On defensive game plan:

We wanted to open the game up as much as we could in that mid-range transition game and again we didn’t take advantage of it. We had chances, but we didn’t finish real well. Defensively I thought we knew they were going to be a bit more direct, but we did a nice job winning those first balls and the second ones.

On Jose’s Goncalves’ first-half injury:

[Jose Goncalves] played with a lot of grit and he really wanted the playoffs. It shows and now we need to get him recovered because he is a big part of what we are doing.

On Columbus’ motivation for the game:

We just played them last week and played them again this week – we knew they were going to be difficult to play against. They had our number a little bit last week. They outplayed us in the second half and we were able to hang on in that one. They outplayed us again tonight in certain areas of the game and we had to make sure we were able to defend and be compact in our space. When you’re playing against a team in their last home game of the year – and they are a good team – you have to bring everything you have and that is what we did tonight. We brought everything we could.

On the team accomplishment:

Obviously you play for the playoffs. I think that we had our ups and downs this season, but I really think that we are coming together as a group. We are getting our young guys big minutes, big games, and they are winning games. They are finding results. I think that is really important for the development of players. You can talk about developing players and put them in tough situations and I think when you put them in tough situations they do well that learning curve is expedited.

On the playoffs:

We are waiting on results now obviously. We would definitely play at home in the first game whether it is Wednesday or Saturday and so we just wait on the last game – Chicago and New York.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION FORWARD JUAN AGUDELO

On what he was feeling after getting the win and a playoff berth:

It’s great. It’s a great emotion right now. We’re really happy. Columbus gave us a tough game, down to the wire, there were a lot of close calls and they had a great effort. We were able to get a goal and finish it, finish the job.

On his goal:

Me and Lee [Nguyen] have pretty good chemistry and there was a little bit of “joga [bonito]” in there, so that was fun. Those goals are just what builds the team and builds chemistry, when you play like a team and it’s fun.

On how the defense was able to keep Columbus from scoring:

It was the same thing in Montreal. In these last few games, we’ve had to keep the lead, and when I see my teammate make a sprint back, I feel like I have to make a sprint back for him. We’re like a team together. Every time I see somebody work hard it makes me work hard.

On making the playoffs:

There’s definitely a lot [left], but we’re just going to recover our legs and there’s still a lot to finish. We’ve got to finish it off.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION MIDFIELDER KELYN ROWE:

On making the playoffs:

It’s a great feeling. You see the guys in the locker room now, they’re very upbeat. Everyone’s pretty happy, but we also know that we have another game coming either Wednesday or Saturday.

On how difficult it was to defend the early lead:

We knew we needed the win so we were going to go through it. If we had to go 90 minutes holding them to zero we’re going to do it. I though the team did really well. I thought Matt [Reis] was huge on a couple plays. He’s saved us many times. José [Goncalves] went down in the first seven minutes and played throughout the whole game. That’s what you want from your captain, fighting through and you have to keep fighting for that.

On having to make a lot of adjustments due to injuries and substitutions:

I think we did it well. Throughout the week we kind of planned for that. We knew it wasn’t known who was going to start with Chris Tierney out. I thought Darrius [Barnes] came in and did an amazing job. He won many balls in the air. Dimitry [Imbongo] and [Juan] Agudelo held it well enough for us, we’ve just got to get that extra pass. Overall, we got the win and we’re in the playoffs so we’re happy.