Post-match quotes: D.C. United 1 - New York Red Bulls 1

Saturday, November 3 - RFK Stadium

D.C. UNITED HEAD COACH BEN OLSEN

On Najar’s ejection:
“Andy’s a young kid and he made a young mistake. I thought Jair [Marrufo] let it boil up a bit. He made some tough calls against us, but it’s no excuse to react that way. We’ll adjust – it’s what we have been doing all year. Now we won’t have our right back, but we will respond.”

On the 1-1 draw:
“It’s a beatable team. We should have won this game tonight, but 1-1, I’m OK with it. They are a beatable team, that’s for sure. Ultimately, I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win because I thought we played well enough to get a result.”

On halftime adjustments:
“We obviously wanted to win today. I thought we had a good balance of going forward and making sure we didn’t get exposed in the back. Again, I thought there was some really good stuff offensively. We created chances. In the first half, we were a little bit rushed at times. We probably should have nicked a goal.”

On the own goal:
“I’ll look at the tape. I don’t want to comment too much on the referees until I look at some things. I think some calls could have gone either way. It was fairly inconsistent, but again, I’ll look at the tape and reserve judgment on him.”

On the team’s playoff experience:
“We tied New York 1-1. They are a pretty good team, they have some pretty good players and a pretty good attack. Looking at the game, I didn’t think they had many chances at all. I don’t think inexperience was an issue at all. I like that group of guys in there and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go up to New York taking on the tough task of winning at Red Bull Arena.”

On Chris Pontius, Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa’s performances:
“Chris had his best performance in months. That’s a good sign. He missed a PK – Dwayne De Rosario has missed PK’s, too. This happens. Its not inexperience. Perry Kitchen was great. Marcelo Saragosa dug in like I have never seen him dig in this year. The guys battled when they were down a man. I’m proud of the group.”

On looking forward to next week:
“I have learned that they are a beatable team. Here or there – we can beat this team and there is a great opportunity for us to go to New York and try to do that.”

On Branko Boskovic’s performance:
“We wanted to get someone a little bit more dynamic up there under Lionard Pajoy. Lewis, as usual, came in and did a great job.”

On Lionard Pajoy’s performance:
“His work rate is always unbelievable and it gives us a dimension that is necessary for this group. We’d like more quality in the finishing – so would he. Strikers go through that stretch. I have always said, if he doesn’t score, he is giving you so much out on the field in holding the ball up and doing a lot of the dirty work that a lot of people can’t appreciate.”

On the atmosphere at RFK Stadium:
“It was the old days. It was great. The second I got out of the tunnel, I had chills. It was just like the old days. I think the fans were treated to a pretty interesting game. I would have loved to send them home with smiles on their faces. It was a great atmosphere and I want to thank them for that and hopefully we will have another chance to play in front of them in a week or two.”

On getting over the result and looking forward to next week:
“Players have short memories. I’m sure they are a little bit confused and upset about the result just because we did so many things well and we didn’t get the result we wanted. I think they will be fine. We will give them a day off to decompress. It’s been a long week with everything. They can spend some time with their families or by themselves, show up Monday, and we’ll get to work on New York again.”

On the schedule swap:
“Once it happens, and talking about it a little bit, it’s just business as usual. It’s a home and away series and now we have to go away. If we don’t get through this, I’m not going to blame it on a home and away series being changed. I won’t do that.”

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER CHRIS PONTIUS

On his missed penalty:
“[It was a] good save - I would have liked to put it up a little higher and get it away from him, but I missed it. You’ve got to have short-term memory, we’ve got a game on Wednesday. We came out, we battled, we went a man down, and we still battled and we still had some opportunities and I like the fight and character of this team.”

On how the team played:
“I thought we put them in some bad spots, I thought we created chances. The energy was great from us tonight, the defending was pretty spot on. Like I said, we came out here to play tonight. We played well enough to win, but we didn’t. It’s a ninety minute game out there and it would be even sweeter to take it from them at their home field.”

On the return leg:
“The guys are ready, they’re juiced for the game on Wednesday. We just have to take care of our bodies.”

On how the team performed against New York:
“I always felt good about how we matched up against them and tonight just proved it right. Like I said, we have to match their intensity up there and we’ve got to play offensively up there like we did down here.”

On the playoff atmosphere:
“This is exactly what I wanted – I wanted to play a home playoff game. I thought it was fantastic. Even a man down, we were getting chances. We were getting pushed on by our fans.”

D.C. UNITED GOALKEEPER BILL HAMID

On the New York goal:
“He knew I was going to jump. I was inside the 6 and he decided to bump me right before my jump. I guess that’s not a foul. I thought it was going to be called. I thought it was going to be a clear call. When the keeper comes out for the ball and he gets bumped that’s a foul, but it is what it is. I could have punched it. The smartest decision would have been to punch it once I felt the bump. I didn’t, but we still got a result. It’s positive. We played our hearts out. We dominated that game possession-wise and chance-wise. So, we’ve got a lot that we are happy about. There are a lot of positives that we are going to take to New York.”

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER PERRY KITCHEN

On the result:
If we are playing the best, with good pressure, good possession, we can hang with any team. That’s just what we need to do.”

On Chris Pontius’ missed PK:
“He’s a guy that is going to shake off his mistakes and get on to the next one. And that’s what you want to see, especially from your captain. We weren’t any too worried about that.”

On his first playoff match:
“It was great energy. The game was pretty electric. I’m definitely looking forward to an away atmosphere. It might be a little tougher with our backs against the wall, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

NEW YORK RED BULLS HEAD COACH HANS BACKE

On his overall assessment of the match:
“They started very strong in the first 20-25 minutes – we just had to defend, defend all the time and they picked up some really good chances.” [Luis Robles] saved the penalty, which was of course very important. Then I would say, when we started the second half, we bounced back in a much better way. We controlled the game – of course they got one sent off, and it made it quite easier for us to have possession. I mean, a tie away, it’s a good result for us.”

On his tactical decisions throughout the game:
“Yeah, with Rafa definitely – there’s something wrong with his calf, but I don’t know how bad it is. And on the road, we chose Sebastien [Le Toux] because of his pace.”

On how the return leg will play out:
“We’ve been strong at home – we just only lost one game this season against Kansas City, otherwise we’ve been winning most of the games. But I mean, it’s playoffs now and it’ll probably be almost the same type of game, very even. It can end up the same way and go to penalty or shootout, whatever it is. But it will be tight.”

On goalkeeper Luis Robles’ performance:
“It was two big saves of course – the penalty and I don’t know if it was the left back who finished, but he couldn’t see the ball. It was a phenomenal save, definitely. And he’s solid, good with crosses, good to get the game going. And it was just overall a very solid game.”

On the impact of D.C. United losing Andy Najar in the second leg:
“I mean, he’s good player. The way he can attack from the right fullback position, he’s a threat all day long, so they of course will miss him.”

On if Najar’s absence gives New York a tactical opportunity at Red Bull Arena:
“It will help us for our defense, definitely, so we can look into that. Attacking-wise, I’m not sure, but definitely defensively.”

On D.C. United’s squad:
“They’re strong – they had a good season and are in a good run the last probably six, seven weeks. They finished second – I mean 58 points is solid. They have some really good players who can make a difference.”

On ending in a tie with a one-man advantage for 20 minutes:
“I hate to play against ten men. As you end up, they stuck back with two blocks and a back four in midfield, so it’s almost impossible to break down when you play like that.”

On the advantages of playing the second leg at home:
“I mean, it’s an advantage, but not as big as it is in Europe, for example. In this league, I think, whoever you play – I mean, some teams have good results at home, but still I think it will be a very even game and it is a small, small advantage, but not a big one.”

NEW YORK RED BULLS FORWARD THIERRY HENRY

On the match:
“We have to wait for the result next to see to who will go through. It is going to be in our city. It really wasn’t a great spectacle. It won’t be an easy one at home. We will see what we can do at home.”

On the dominance of United early in the match:
“Because they were rushing. I don’t know. They wanted to start well for the first twenty minutes. We knew they were going to come up in the beginning strong.”

On the moments after the penalty save:
“The first two minutes after the penalty, everyone was talking about the penalty. The ball bounced right before he saved it, blocking his view and he saved it. Bill, [Gaudette] before was tremendous for us, now Luis is taking over. We have some great goalkeepers around us.”

NEW YORK RED BULLS GOALKEEPER LUIS ROBLES

On his return to playing:
“One thing that is important is the guys in front of you are playing really well. I think the last four games we’ve put together some great defensive performances, and even before that. So, when I’m playing behind them, and they are as organized, and especially with Rafa and Markus back there organizing it, it makes my job easier. For me individually, going into the playoffs, there’s different games because the playoffs are a different environment. It’s a different conference here. I think we are very pleased with how things are going right now.”

On going into the second leg at New York:
“The second leg is going to be tough, for sure. We are very gracious for how they accommodated our situation because naturally they lost the advantage. They had the higher seed, but we really appreciate the sportsmanship they showed. They care more about taking care of the humanity part of it, instead of forcing the issue. I know it’s unfortunate for them, but I know they are going to come back and they are going to be very hungry. In my opinion, it’s going to be a really fun game.”

On his penalty kick save:
“I have to give credit to Coach Todd. He does a good job in preparing us for a game. We knew in the last three penalty kicks, Pontius waited for the keeper to move and waited and waited. If you are a forward and waiting until the very last second for the goalkeeper to move, it kind of forces them to not shoot as low as they would like to and in that case I was fortunate.”

On whether the first save of the game or the penalty kick was harder to stop:
“The first shot for sure. Now, of course, that sounds silly, but only because, as I touched on earlier, as a goalkeeper, you want to get your touches in. But you’re hoping for like a pass back, or someone heading the ball back to you. But in that case, it worked out for us.”

On his experience so far with the club:
“Well, the experience here at Red Bull has been incredible. It’s something that we want to continue doing, so we have a task at hand on Wednesday to go to New York and get a favorable result, so I think that’s the most important thing right now.”

On how Rafa Marquez’s possible absence on Wednesday will affect the backline:
“Well, I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen yet. Of course having Rafa back there is huge – we’re talking about a player that has tremendous world experience, playing at the highest level. So, if he’s back there, we’ll be solid, but if he’s not on the pitch, I know that we have guys that can step up.”

On if he’s ever been in a game as wild as this one:
“Yeah, I mean of course, in Germany we had some pretty crazy games, especially one of the years, my team was facing relegation, so it came down to the wire a few times. But the atmosphere in D.C. was fantastic and I expect it to be even better when we get to New York.”

On if Roy Miller’s own goal was the best own goal that has ever been scored on him:
“My gosh. I told Roy afterwards, ‘Hey, great finish, man.’ It was fantastic, upper ‘V.’ But of course, he gave his heart out there and he tried everything and it just didn’t work out. But luckily we got that goal back, so now it’s 1-1 and we go to New York.”