Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased
On Montreal’s recent poor run of form
Well, I think we need to kind of see how things tonight [when Montreal plays LA Galaxy]. We’re looking at it that it could be really tough for both Montreal and us. It depends on how the result goes tonight I think will greatly impact the way that Montreal looks at our game on Saturday. For us, we know where we are right now and we have to go to Montreal and feel like we have to get points. There’s no other alternative for us right now.
On what it’s like having to watch other team’s results
The feeling is that it’s tight and it’s crazy. But the feeling within our locker room is still that we’re pretty confident that if we go take care of business in our next two games then we have a great chance of being in the playoffs. And if we don’t do it, then that’s on us. So, we’re in a good position because we’re in the fight, you know? And so are a lot of other teams. And we can’t control — you know, there’s all kinds of scenarios out there right now — but we can’t control what other teams are doing, all we can do is try to control ourselves. We’ve had some good performances and some — you know, our last game we didn’t feel like we played particularly well but we got a point, a really important point, and we did it with a lot of adversity thrown in our face both before the game and during the game. And so, we feel like we can play better and that’s what we’ll have to do in Montreal. Whatever else happens in the league happens, but if we do what we’re supposed to, then we still live to fight for that last game versus Sporting Kansas City here.
On the injury to Le Toux
A little bit of an update, it’s just that he’s still feeling it and we hope to have him back for Saturday. Our medical staff has done a ton of treatment with him right now. If he can go on Saturday? We’ll try to make that determination in the next couple of days. To be fair, it doesn’t look great. But with this injury, if he can manage it right, there’s a chance he could play.
On Michael Lahoud’s injury status
We hope that Michael is a hundred percent healthy; still questionable at the moment. We would be a little more hopeful if he was a hundred percent in training right now but he’s not.
Any other injury news?
No, just Greg Jordan recovering from his second knee surgery, but he’s doing really well.
Why is Montreal such a tough match-up?
I think they’re a team that has a ton of experience, that has some very — their whole roster is pretty deep. And when we played up there in the first game, I thought they had one of their best performances of the year. But, I think when we played them here we were able to do a lot of things to counter what they do well. So I think it leads into this next game that it’s gonna be interesting for both of us. I think that we’ve figured each other out a little bit and I think both of us are gonna be in a position where we need to get a result on Saturday. The advantage for them is that they’re at home — and that’s a good advantage — but it also puts a little more pressure on them, where we can come out and maybe be a little more conservative and, while they’re pushing forward, maybe that opens up some opportunities for us. But, either way, it’s gonna be a playoff game before the playoffs, as many of these games have. The only difference is that there’s no next game really after this for either one of us. There’s scenarios that would knock us out of the playoffs if we lost and other results go right. And they are in the same boat. And for them in particular, they were a team that was at the top of the standings and everybody’s been talking about as a MLS Cup contender all year long — I don’t think many people have talked about us that way — and now here they are and we’re, depending on what happens tonight in LA, we could be in the same exact boat.
Any concerns about the offense scoring against the run of play?
I don’t think our goal in Toronto was against the run of play at all, I think it was quite the contrary. Look, I would say yes and no, ok, in the big picture, but I don’t think that we’re against the run of play. Certainly our goal against Toronto, being in a restart in a game where we had a lot of chances — created more than our opponent, same thing happened in DC — we saved them for the very end in extra time and that’s always difficult for a team to wait that long. But it’s a credit to our guys too that we’re still fighting until the very final whistle and never giving up. And we’re finding a way to get those goals. Those are positives for me. Maybe that is depending on how you look at it. Our goal in Sporting KC was against the run of play for sure and that’s a little bit dictated by our opponent and playing away against a very good opponent. I think you might see a similar type situation this weekend where Montreal might come at us really hard , throw a lot forward, and that would open up things behind them. Then, it really depends on how we perform and whether we create chances and whether we can finish them.
Is it difficult dealing with roster changes due to injury and suspension late in the year?
It is what it is. I think we were fortunate earlier in the year that we were pretty consistent with the lineups that we were putting out and not having to change very much. As you get later into the year, normally there’s lots of injuries that occur, you have yellow card accumulations, you deal with some suspensions. I think we were probably a little fortunate that we didn’t have to deal with some of these issues earlier in the year. The good news is that guys that are training hard every day are contributing. I mean, Matt Kassel’s performance in DC is probably going to go under the radar screen a little bit but he deserves a ton of credit because he was so important to us battling back in that game. He played at right back in the first half, he played a kind of hybrid left back-left midfield position in the second half, he got us to a point in the game where we could put Jack on the field and get a result. Guys like Matt and other guys are really valuable and it’s just good to see that those guys are taking their opportunities at this time. We may have the same situation this weekend.
You’ve said the team likes being the underdog. Does the team struggle when they are not?
I think that expectations are an interesting thing with how a team deals with them. We are certainly a team that likes to have that little edge to us, that likes to have a chip on our shoulder, that likes to read things about how we’re not gonna be successful. That seems to definitely fire these guys up. When you tell them they can’t do something they certainly try to rise up. On the other hand, I do think that we’re a team that needs to learn how to deal with that role of being a favorite. And that’s experience, that’s maturity, that’s just having been in those positions long enough and really understanding them and dealing with them the right way. I would say we didn’t deal with that great in DC but the one thing that people have to understand is that your opponent plays a huge part in this. That DC team had nothing to lose and actually played a really good game. There’s not a lot of people giving that group of players the credit that they deserve but, on the night, they were good and we had to face an opponent that played well. And we found a way to get a result with a lot of interesting twists and turns in that game, probably more so than I’ve dealt with in a long time.
On having to deal with subbing a player out earlier than expected, as was the case with Le Toux against DC
As a coach you run through all kinds of scenarios, in particular when you’re picking your 18 and guys who are gonna come off the bench and potentially play for you. I don’t think that — you know, Seba went down in the first minute at DC and he told me he needed a sub in literally the first minute of the game. So that’s a tough one to deal with, when you’re starting a guy at right back who hasn’t played there before. Matt was that person that we felt coming off the bench would be his backup, but that’s not a move that as a coach you want to make that early. There are all different kinds of scenarios, that one is one that usually doesn’t happen.
Has the mood of the team changed with McInerney ending the goal drought?
I think for Jack the feeling was everyone was really happy for him. He gets the goal that been a long time coming and that does wonders for him personally. But, we’ve been through it with him so far — players, coaches — so that’s great. We’ve had really good training sessions for the most part the whole year and our guys when they come to work not only understand what our objectives are in training but they go about it in the right way. You’re welcome to come out there and I think you’ll see a lot of smiling faces, and a lot of sweat and dirt and, sometimes, some blood here and there, and know that our guys go after it. And that’s been good, that’s been a huge strength of ours all year. The resolve of this team specifically this week is that we know we can play better than we did last week. It’s our responsibility to play better than we did last week, and that’s what our goal is.
On the USMNT success involving MLS players
I’m happy for the US national team. I was on my couch cheering as much as I could last night, although it was a crazy situation because I’m cheering for the US and at the same time I’m thinking, “What am I doing because, when I cheer for the US I’m cheering for Mexico too,” which, as our arch rival, is difficult to swallow sometimes. But to see Brad Davis put that ball in — I’ve seen him do that so many times and that ball is almost impossible to defend — and to see Graham get up for it and execute that header was fantastic. I think Kyle Beckerman was phenomenal. I think it says a lot about our league that now our national team is truly relying on guys that are in good form in our league, I think that bodes well for everybody.
Do you agree with the idea that the US benefits from having a strong Mexico team as a rival?
Ah, you know, a little bit, ’cause I think that anytime you’re pushed, in whatever endeavor you’re doing, it makes you better. And certainly, the rivalry between us and Mexico has pushed the US to really try to develop as country our game, our youth development programs — every part of it — our national team. And for a long time people thought, “Hey, Mexico is untouchable, and they’re far ahead of the US.” The reality is is that that isn’t the case right now. We just helped them both financially and [audio cuts out for 13 seconds].
On losing Michael Farfan for a game due to yellow card accumulation
It’s gonna be tough to lose Michael and I’ve been really pleased with Michael over the last three games. It hasn’t been the easiest of years for him but to see him come back into really good form and play some huge minutes for us and be so important to what we’re doing, I’m pleased for him personally, knowing that, as a player, he has that capability and he’s contributed in a big way to our success in these last three games. So, he is going to be, again, one of those guys who we have to fill that void this weekend. But we’re hopeful that, whoever that is, will rise to the occasion and that Michael will come back and continue the form. He certainly continues to look really good in training and I know the coaches were joking around today that he looks so good and we’re disappointed we’re not gonna have him on Saturday.
Are you worried about Conor Casey not scoring lately?
I don’t think Conor is struggling at all. I think Conor has been in this game long enough that he absolutely understands what it’s like to be a striker and have the pressure that all forwards have to score. I thought a great response on Saturday night was after we gave up the goal in DC we came right back down the field and Conor had two really good chances. The first one, which was a world class save by Bill Hamid and the second one I think he gets fouled on — not that we would have been given a PK but under normal circumstances maybe a team would have been given a penalty kick — and he still fought through and got another shot on goal. He played the 90 minutes, he’s in there battling, he does so many things for us that open up the game so, no, I’m not worried about Conor at all. It’s great that he’s on our team. I know what he’s gonna bring every game, I think our players in the locker room have a tremendous amount of trust in him.