Post-Match quotes: Crew at Portland Timbers

Gregg Berhalter

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

Columbus Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On the result:
“It’s exactly what you want when you’re a man down. You want to create havoc and I don’t think we did a good job of controlling the game in that later stage. We could have kept the ball better and taken advantage of some counter opportunities a bit better. It got sloppy. All in all, it was a decent performance by us, but certainly there’s room for improvement.”

On going up a man and taking the lead before the half:
“I think that the penalty kick helped. We went into the locker room with, obviously, a very positive feeling. You knew that we had to keep going and keep trying to play. I think that it was definitely a momentum turner for me.”

On the momentum swings in the match:
“I think we could have managed the game better, plain and simple. If you look at their goals, I didn’t think we did well defending. That wasn’t typical for the whole match. I think we actually defended well in the match. In those certain cases it wasn’t good enough. It’s part of that learning experience and to come here and score three goals is certainly good. We’re happy with that and we’re happy with how we played at times.”

On the offensive pressure and counter attack:
“I think towards the end of the game when they were throwing a lot of numbers forward that has to be the plan. If you’re not getting good enough pressure on the ball and they’re able to play into our end, they had numbers there. Then you have to react and you have to play off the counter. We did that. It could have been better though.”

On Federico Higuaín’s performance:
“Federico is a quality player and we need him to be like this and he was. That’s what he brings to this group. He’s a difference maker in this league. We value that and we think that his performance was exceptional tonight.”

Columbus Crew defender Chad Barson

On playing in Portland:
Everyone throughout MLS knows that Portland is a difficult place to play. The fans are really into it here in the Northwest. They certainly had their team’s back throughout the whole game.”

On playing against Portland:
“We knew it was going to be difficult. We know how Portland likes to play, especially some of the guys that know Caleb as a coach. He’s a very fiery guy. He’s going to have his guys ready for the game, very prepared. They’re going to play a possession style of game. So we knew that coming into the game.”

On the encouraging aspects of the game for the Crew:
“I think we’re disappointed that we didn’t come out of here with three points. We were up a man and we should have come out of this game with three points rather than a tie.”

On settling into the left back role in his first start:
“It was great to get my first start of the year. I feel like I’ve been prepared for this opportunity throughout training and different reserve games that we’ve played so far. You always have to be ready. We know guys are going to be gone for the World Cup and we’re proud of them for that. Guys that haven’t had a major role thus far into the season are going to need to be able to step into a game and help the team.”

On taking a 2-1 lead into halftime:
“That was definitely big for us. We have a lot of fight and we’re not happy if we don’t win games. We believe we can go into any environment, as hostile as it is, and the way we play, the way we attack, we think we can come out with a result. We’re disappointed that we didn’t win today. But I think it was a better performance than maybe the last couple weeks. We need to take the good from today and take the bad and learn from it and keep getting better.”

On going up a man in the first half:
“It helps, obviously, when the other team goes down. They have to change their tactics, they have to make a couple subs. It kind of changes the game plan. It kind of gives us a little more time on the ball. But I don’t think we necessarily capitalized enough being up a man. I don’t think we really waver from our game plan. We’re confident in our beliefs and we believe that whatever team we play against, we can play our style against them.”

Columbus Crew forward Ethan Finlay

On the result:
“Obviously a crazy first half with the red card and then the penalty kick late in the half. It really changed things. Portland made some adjustments as the game started off in the second half. It was kind of unfortunate we didn’t score earlier in the half to push it to 3-1. The last 10 minutes kind of speaks for itself with how hectic it went back and forth with what, three goals there. I think we’re unfortunate to not come out of here with a result tonight, being a man up for as long as we were, but there are a lot of good things that came out of tonight and we’ll look forward to Chicago next week.”

On his goal to put the Crew up 3-2 late in the game:
“Gregg [Berhalter] and Josh [Wolff] had told me when I came in that there was a lot of space on [the right] side. Federico found me early and they have been really pushing me to attack guys late in the game. Some of those guys had already been in the game 20-30 minutes and tried to take advantage of it. Tried to go at the guy and cut inside on my left. I tried to play it to the far post and got fortunate with the deflection. You know, you take them if they’re pretty or ugly.”

On Federico Higuaín’s performance:
“He was fantastic tonight. You know, obviously the two goals and the assist, but outside of that, his play on the ball, how comfortable he was out there, and how he dictated the pace of the game for us was tremendous. Unfortunate that we couldn’t come out with a win. He’s one of those guys, he probably deserved it the most. He really controlled the game tonight and we hope he can continue to do that.”

On Portland’s fight to stay in the match:
“This is a tough place to play. These guys got around their team and they fought. They fought with 10 men for up to 60 minutes. They’re a really good team. They’re a well-coached team and we have a lot of respect for them.”

On the first half:
“I think the goal. We had been dictating a lot of the play even before being a man up. But the goal to go up 2-1 and come in at halftime and have the lead. We’d been trailing the last couple games and been struggling to score, so to be up 2-1 in a game like that was huge coming in at halftime and I think it gave us a lot of confidence. It was unfortunate we weren’t able to get one earlier in the second half.”

On Portland’s continual pressure:
“Incredible resilience they had. I’m sure they’re exhausted, the guys that were on the field. They really put the work in tonight. All due respect to those guys, they worked really hard, but we should have won that game and it’s disappointing we didn’t.”

On the Crew’s second half offense:
“It’s really just important to keep our flow and our shape and that’s what happened. We lost shape a couple times late in the game. We were up 2-1 and then we were up 3-2 obviously because there was a lot of open space and we were still trying to attack and get another goal and try to put the game away. We lost focus and we lost shape and they made us pay.”

Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter

On the result:
“I’m proud of my team. Obviously, we didn’t get three points, but I’m proud of our effort. Down a man, down a goal, to fight back and show what they showed, outplay a team down a man, down a goal, I think is a huge positive and that’s what I told them, that I was proud of their effort today.”

On the challenges faced and adjustments made at halftime: 
“Down a man, it makes it difficult. The biggest thing is psychologically to believe that you can still pull it off. That was my initial focus, is to give them the belief they can still get a result. Tactically, you’ve got to be prepared for dealing with being down a man. I thought we had a decent plan and as the half wore on we went more aggressive because at that point your time is running out and you can risk being more aggressive. If you’re going to lose, I would rather play to try to win even though you might lose by more than one goal, two goals, three goals, at that stage it doesn’t matter. More than anything I did, it was more the players, their heart, their desire, their intensity and passion. We’re going to build on this because if they play the way they were playing in that second half, I think we’re going to be a very difficult team to beat moving forward. For me, it’s bottling that second half and using it now for 90 minutes. You can spin it however you want, but that’s a good result if you’re down a goal, down a man. More than that, just to play the way they played says a lot about the type of team they are. They showed everything I want my team to represent. They displayed the qualities I want this club to represent. Even though it’s not three points, I think the supporters are hopefully happy that they showed that heart. A lot of teams lose that game by three, four, five goals and give up. We played 65 minutes down a man, and then went down a goal on a penalty. Most teams, they call it a day. But not this team. We’re never going to. We’re always going to keep fighting and keep giving everything we have every single game for the supporters, because we want to be a club that is winning and achieving things.”

On if the result and adversity can help the team reach the playoffs:
“We need 42 points and maybe we don’t need 42 points, depends on the other teams. We’re going to stay on track with that so the next nine games we’re going to try to get 18 points. If we have the will to win like we had today, then that’s the important thing. I’m happy to know that we still have that in us. If I questioned that, I’d be more worried. We’re still behind it in terms of points, but all you can do is keep fighting, keep plugging away and keep taking it one game at a time. Hopefully, we play more like we played in the second half. Hopefully, we play that way when we don’t have adversity like we had today. We should play that way even numbers. We should play that way after we score the first goal. I think you saw this team came out ready to go, they were up for it, they were ready, they scored the first goal. And then the red card obviously turned the game for me. They scored a great goal from a great player, so you’ve got to credit them as well, but we outplayed them in the second half so that’s a positive to build on.”

On having to sub Maximiliano Urruti off after the red card: 
“It’s a tough one again. You talk about it before the game. It’s difficult when you go down a man, tactically what do you do? We felt putting [Darlington] Nagbe up at the point striker would be a good move, we talked about that [red-card scenario] before the game. You don’t want to take off [Steve] Zakuani because he’s good on the counter, he’s got pace. You’re not going to take off [Diego] Valeri, he’s our DP. Nagbe is a game-changer, individually, and I thought he was unbelievable today. It was tough to take off the guy who just scored the goal, but tactically that’s what we felt we had to do at that stage. If we would’ve given up the red card later, we probably would’ve taken off [Ben] Zemanski because now it’s later in the game. But to go 65 minutes or something like that [down a man], you need work rate in the middle of the park, so there’s no way we could’ve taken off either one of our D-Mids, so he was unfortunately the sacrificial lamb. But great at the end, too. Gastón [Fernandez] scored and [Fanendo] Adi got the nod back on that. Our attack is doing well.”

On how the adversity will help in the future: 
“We’re obviously sitting where we’re sitting, and it’s not where we want to be, but I guarantee there isn’t a team in the league that wants to face us and it’s for a good reason because even though we’ve only won one game, we’ve only lost three and I think it’s now four games in a row we haven’t been beaten and in the last seven games we’ve only lost one game. I think in terms of points it looks a lot worse than the team we are, but at the end of the day we’ve got to do better, but it’s important to keep in mind we’re only five points off the red line.”

Timbers midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe

On the belief within the squad:
“Within ourselves we think we can go out there and compete in every game and, no matter the situation, we can come away with a win. That’s what we did today. I’m just proud of the team and the way we played and the way we came back, fought back twice.”

On what the Timbers need to do on the road in the next match:
“Keep doing what we’re doing. I feel like today we were just a bit unlucky. [Federico] Higuaín had a great goal, and if we don’t get that red card we’re in the game and who knows what happens.”

On building on this result:
“Look at the positives. We had 10 men and were able to create some good chances. If we can do that with 10, we should be able to do it with 11.”

Timbers midfielder/forward Steve Zakuani
On the team’s character:
“We don’t give in. We fought for each other today. Everybody did their duty. One of our best attacking players playing left back at one point, doing defensive work because that’s what it means to us, trying to get the win. Unfortunately, right now we’re not picking up wins, but we’re also not losing games. Shortly here, I think around the corner, we’re going to slowly start turning those ones into three points. When you’re playing like that and work as hard as we’re working, your luck starts to change. We have a never-say-die attitude, and at 2-2 they score again…most teams at that point just give up, but we still came back and found a third goal.”

Timbers forward Gastón Fernández [through a translator]
On getting late results:
“We would prefer not to start out games like that. We could have won the game in the second half. This point that we got will be valuable if we can win the next game.”

On how this result prepares the Timbers for their next match on the road:
“We were able to score three goals, so obviously there are good things going on. We still have to make adjustments. Moving forward, that’s what we need to do.”

On his ability to score goals when the team needs it:
“It’s hard to enjoy those goals because they are always to tie the game. I did enjoy the one against D.C. [United] because it was the first goal [of the game]. Just for me it’s great to score, and I’m going home happy.”