New York Red Bulls 3-1 Toronto FC – reactions:
MIKE PETKE – HEAD COACH, NEW YORK RED BULLS
On the match:
Massive result. Staring with Houston [Dynamo] last weekend, we’re taking every game as a playoff game and that includes Columbus [Crew] next weekend. Tomorrow is out of our hands what happens with Houston, but it would obviously be great if we know we are in the playoffs tomorrow and then we know exactly what we’re fighting for, which is a place. Overall I’m very happy with the result, obviously.
On the left side of the field and if he will be rooting for D.C. United against Houston:
Listen, tomorrow is out of our hands with Houston, so I mean obviously, of course I want D.C. to win because we’ll be in the playoffs. As far as our left side tonight, listen that’s what I’m all about. That’s the school that I come from. You know if you don’t get your chance, you don’t get your chance, you’re finally going to get one and it could be under any type of circumstance, you know? It’s on them to step up and show me – like I told [Richard] Eckersley a couple of games ago when he went in, I said go in there and after the game be able to tell me ‘you should’ve played me 15 games ago.’ I have no problem with that and I thought that did a very good job. It was obvious that they [Toronto FC] were trying to target our left side with the speed in the beginning, then obviously bringing [Dominic] Oduro on for more speed, but I think other than for a couple of occasions, I think Kosuke [Kimura] handled it very well and I’m very excited Ruben [Bover] got a goal. It’s always nice to see; you know it’s like seeing your kids score. You know the joy and his parents are here from Spain, so it’s a nice thing for him, but yeah I think they both did well.
On Ruben Bover’s play with Tim Cahill and Peguy Luyindula out:
Like I said – [Ambroise] Oyongo and [Roy] Miller [are on international duty] as well. Like I said, he stepped up tonight and he did well. I think he had his moments that weren’t very well, but that’s expected. You know we try to give him exact instructions on what we wanted and pinpoint exact areas of the field that we wanted him in because if anyone has ever seen Ruben play, he likes to find the ball, wherever it is, and I think that he listened to that, for the most part. I think that after the first 10 minutes or so, he really adapted and he really did some good stuff with the ball, and like I said, the goal, very happy for him.
On the team’s success at home and how important home field advantage is:
I mean this is MLS, you know? Not like England where the top three teams win every game. It’s not like that league. So on the road, I don’t know, travel? I don’t know, I could insert any number of excuses, but I really would just be making excuses, to be honest with you. But they’ve really come together over the last month or so, especially at home. I just think this is a team that needs to sense things, they need to smell things, for lack of a better term. What they’ve sensed and smelled over the last month is that season’s coming to an end, we’re not where we wanted to be, and our goal is to make the playoffs. I feel that big players step up in circumstances like that and so far over the last month we have and hopefully that will continue. If we have to play the playing game, I’m still gunning for third place, at least, but if we have to play the playing game, of course we want to be at home.
On how he has been tested as a coach this season compared to last:
I mean we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it after the season, obviously, but I’ve been in this league for 16 or so years now as a player, assistant coach, coach. I mean look at the last two years – actually the last three years with D.C. United when Ben Olsen wins the Eastern Conference, then has one of the worst records in the league, and now he’s up for the Supporters’ Shield. I mean it’s just – part of it is the way this league is run and the way it works, which I’m a big fan of, and the other part of it is you know, I don’t know what the other part of it is, to be honest with you right now, but it’s not a terrible year thus far but I’ve had to deal with a lot of stuff this year and I’ve had to adapt to a lot of things, but that’s life. I’m going to be a better coach for it. At the end of the year we’ll have some things to say, but we’re concentrating on Columbus next weekend and that’s it. Every day is a learning experience for me.
On Dax McCarty and Eric Alexander playing together in the midfield:
Yeah I mean that was the talk all week between the staff and I. There was a mindset that obviously Eric would be playing a bit higher in this game and bring someone like Ian [Christianson] in and I think Ian’s a quality player, young player, someone for the future, and he could do that if we did and that’s why we put him in in the end. At the end of the day, we’ve enjoyed what Dax and Eric has done for us, have given us. I think tonight if I was out on the field with them, I would have choked them a couple of times, to be honest with you, I’m being fair, but if you look at it as a whole 90 minutes, they’ve done a very good job since we started playing them side by side and they’re just plugging up a hole in the middle. If they can continue to play simple with the ball when they win it, selfless, that’s the big thing, to get players like dax and Eric to realize that the less they do, the better they’re going to play in that position. That’s the key and that hasn’t always been easy, but I feel Dax especially has really adapted to that and if he continues with that, he’ll be getting back with the National Team.
On when he felt comfortable the team had control of the match:
I felt comfortable when I was shaking Greg Vanney’s hand after the game. I never feel comfortable, ever. That’s the truth. Last year when we won the Supporters’ Shield the last game, what was it? Was it 5-2? I was freaking out more in the 92nd minute of that game than I was, you know, earlier in the game. It’s just the way I am, it’s just the way the personality of this team is, you never feel comfortable. You know, they could do wonderful things or, you know, things don’t go so well.
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
On what he said to the team after the match:
My words were, that there weren’t too many words I could share with them that would make them feel any better than they’re feeling right now so it was a tough game, we dug ourselves a big hole in the first half and we got off to a reasonable start at the very start and something about games sometimes around the 20 minute mark where we get to be real pessimistic and real sort of nervous, we get a little bit away from the things we do well, and I thought we got a little bit pessimistic and starting turning over the ball and started just getting counter-attacks just coming at us. It’s like we were waiting for something to come and it certainly didn’t. Unfortunately in this game when you get past it against good teams and players like Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips who has been on fire this year than sometimes you take goals and we did. You know at half time the plan was to go after them and I thought we certainly went after them. I give credit to the team for putting a lot of energy and effort out there and the defenders scrambled there the whole second half to try and keep things out of the goal. Joe [Bendik] made a couple of saves, but it’s weird to say but we actually had enough chances to scratch ourselves back into the game but we just couldn’t make do of them but it was good to see us get one back early on to try and make a game out of it the rest of the night.
On why they get pessimistic at the 20 minute mark:
I don’t know exactly, it’s a psychology, a mentality type thing and you know sometimes maybe it’s just something that we’ve picked up over the course of the year. We’ve taken some goals early where we start to get a little pessimistic. You know what happens for me is the outside backs weren’t getting higher up the field, they were able to clog up the middle of the field so we could no longer find our strikers, we couldn’t really get wide, and really our shape was what was kind of hurting us. Part of it was we were turning balls over quickly and we weren’t allowing ourselves to get into our attacking shape to try and open them up a little bit so we could connect because we were taking a little bit of a defensive posture, and hopefully we don’t turn over this ball and Thierry Henry counter-attacks us or Bradley Wright-Phillips counter-attacks us. We took up this kind of pessimistic positions and in the end we didn’t have players to play forward to or in the pockets or the holes that we needed to play through and sure enough we invited some transition moments onto ourselves so why? I think its psychology I think it’s just something we need to continue to train and work and develop out of our system, but it’s going to take a little time
On Thierry Henry’s central play:
He did, I thought he worked a little bit harder defensively as well to try and disrupt Michael [Bradley] and forced, at times, for Michael to play sort of under, not necessarily under pressure, but actually chased and something I don’t think he always shows. I thought he was pretty solid, he played relatively close to Bradley Wright-Phillips and they combined with each other. What we were having a hard time with is he kept playing centrally and getting in the gaps and in spaces between our midfield line and our backline and we were trying to negotiate those spaces a bit especially early and midway through the second half, finding an extra player in the midfield. Thierry’s just a very smart player, he’ll find his way through the course of a match and where the spaces are and where he can do damage to the opposition so he just did that throughout the course of this match and of course he found his way.
MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
On the three goals:
I thought we started well, similarly to the game in LA, it was a big game against a good team and how important the start is. And again I thought we did that when we were playing in their end. I don’t think we had any huge outright chance, but still in terms of having control and being on top of things early on, I think we were all good. Obviously a few plays got away from us at the second part of that first half. Certainly when we look back, I feel like in a lot of ways in different parts of the game it could’ve been handled better and against a good team. Down 3-0 at halftime there’s not much else you could do but go for it. I thought the second half was good. Given the circumstances in terms of trying to get back in the game and in terms of being aggressive and going forward, trying to create chances, going forward, trying to create advantages, I thought it was all there. Obviously we didn’t get the goals, we had so many other plays where if we’re a little sharp we’re a little better or a little quicker, we would certainly be back in the game.
On if it’s been frustrating for him:
It’s been frustrating for every guy in here. You know we – when you’re on the inside of something, you put everything you have into it and when it doesn’t go the way that everybody hopes, when you’re not able to achieve what you talk about all year, it’s frustrating. It’s part of it.
On the promising start and how they got into the situation they’re in:
To put it simply, we’ve tied too many games that we should’ve won and lost too many games on days that we should’ve tied. When you get to the end of the year you start adding up points and you’re short. When you look back so far 32 games, we had more than enough chances to win games, to tie games, to get ourselves the points that we needed and when you get to the last three or four games and the position we are, you know the margin for error goes out the window so it’s – a night like Wednesday when you play so well at home and really destroy a team like Houston but to come away with zero points, that makes it hard. Coming here against a good team and always a difficult place to play and you put yourself behind the eight-ball in a sense and after 45 minutes you’re down 3-0 you’re just constantly trying to come from behind and fight back and it’s difficult.