Post-match quotes: D.C. United 1 - Houston Dynamo 1

Sunday, November 18, 2012 - RFK Stadium

D.C. UNITED HEAD COACH BEN OLSEN

On going down 1-0 prior to half:
“We talked about keeping a zero, and as much as this game was about the offense and us scoring goals, it was also about us keeping them off the scoreboard. We talked about discipline and making sure we have a real disciplined aggression about us. It hurt. They didn’t have much up until that point. The way we started the game was great – we put a lot of energy into it and then we kind of had to breathe a bit – that’s why they got a couple looks. In a game like that, where you need goals, you’re going to have to not make any mistakes on the defensive end. It was a game where there were three goals out there, but we weren’t clinical enough in the final third.”

On the emotional ride the team has gone on this season:
“We talk about laying a foundation here and having something special for years to come and I believe it’s here. I really do. This group is a bunch of great, young guys who are willing to fight and do what it takes. This experience was invaluable for them. It’s a special group – there’s a certain character about this group that makes me proud of them and they know it. They put everything out there tonight, and the fans appreciate this group. This group has put us back on the map a little bit and I hope we can continue growing.”

On multiple things being stacked against the team all year:
“I’m sure I will wake up tomorrow and that will probably be my thought. At some point, its just not going to be good enough down the stretch. I’m glad we hung on this long, I really am. It shows the spirit this group has because things have not been easy. I don’t even know if you guys know the half of it. There’s been obstacle after obstacle and these kids kept on pushing through and I’m really proud of them.”

On De Rosario’s return:
“I knew he would energize the crowd and once he came on, he looked a little rusty at times and you saw some magic as well. As a group, we started creating a lot more chances. I would have really liked the next few weeks to get him fit and really see what he has.”

On the final stretch of the game:
“I think we could have made that really interesting down the stretch if we just had a little bit more composure in front of the goal.”

On the improvement from last year:
“I think its another year of experience for our young guys, we were deeper so when we had injury issues, we had replacements. We were just more talented as well to state the obvious. We had better players out there this year. Our depth really helped us this year. We have changed formations multiple times this year, changed style of play multiple times this year, and that is probably the story of the year. When someone goes down, we had to change. The willingness to change and buy in to whatever I was selling, crazy or not, they were willing to do whatever we needed to survive. The last couple weeks, even the last month, I think we started playing some really attractive stuff as well. We were grinding there for a while, but I think these guys grew so much in such a short time period without Dwayne De Rosario and I thought we had a nice style about us. I’m just proud – I’m really proud to be a part of this.”

On the group of players this year:
“I knew what I was getting out of my guys, and I haven’t had that feeling as a coach since I have been here. That’s a nice feeling – to be confident in the group you are putting out there. As this team grew together, it made life a little bit easier on me, when all is said and done.”

On the injuries:
“Chris [Pontius] was done. He [Pontius] would have been a question mark for the finals. Brandon [McDonald] maybe could have played. It was not a game where I could afford a final sub. Lewis Neal, before the game, had a little bit of a question mark with a quad strain. He was actually going to start and we had to change to a 4-4-2. I think at times that helped us, and at times that hurt us. I wish I would have had the starting lineup I initially had up until this morning.”

On Branko Boskovic’s performance:
“For me, it was his best of the year. We don’t know what’s going on with Branko next year, but he did his work today, for sure. I was really proud of him. To get the goal was great, but his overall play and the way he dictated that game was very, very special today.”

On Hamdi Salihi’s season:
“He [Hamdi Salihi] does what he always does, he gets in great spots. When he’s in form, those are goals. Its not easy when you are sitting a long time and getting ten minutes here and there. But you can see, he gets in such great spots. He knows how to play that position and if he had a couple more games under his belt recently, he would have done better with those.”

On some of the lessons the team has learned this year:
“We learned a lot of hard lessons this year – in the last couple of weeks as well. The Andy Najar suspension hurt us, he was playing his best stuff. I think he would have helped in tonight’s game in particular. But saying that, Robbie Russell has been great. He [Robbie Russell] exemplifies what we are about – he stepped in and got the job done.”

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER DWAYNE DE ROSARIO

On getting back on the field:
“It felt good. I’m grateful that the guys gave me the opportunity to play again this year.”

On trying to come back in the second half:
“One thing I told the guys is you can’t give up. I mean, I remember in ’04, when I was with San Jose, we were down two nothing. We went home down two nothing, we fought back and found a way. We had the chances tonight, but, you know, unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but we were able to get one. It obviously wasn’t enough. You know, just the character the guys showed, the dedication and the unity that we showed as a team was fantastic. It is something we can definitely build on for the future.”

On the emotion of the game:
“We put our hearts and souls into this. We train hard and this is what we train hard for. To have that, to put that into perspective and have it end like that, it is definitely emotional.”

On what he thought the team would do after his injury:
“Well, when I got injured, like they say ‘No guy is bigger than the team.’ They showed that. The guys got together and pulled together as a strong unit and brought me back. It was through them is why I got back healthy. It is what it is and we have to plan for next year.”

D.C. UNITED GOALKEEPER BILL HAMID

On having to overcome the 3-1 deficit:
“We all still believed. It was still doable. We had enough chances to get back in the game, even after the goal we let in. It’s unfortunate. We played our hearts out and never gave up. It was a great effort by us – it’s unfortunate.”

On his favorite memories from the season:
“There’s too many memories about this year. This is an unbelievable group of guys. We’ve always stuck together. We’ve always been like brothers in here. I don’t think you guys realize how much of a bond we have in this locker room. It feels like a real brotherhood. We’re going to miss that, but we’re going to take that into next year and push for more.”

On the crowd of 20,000+:
“The crowd was amazing. To see what they did – I didn’t even see it at first – I turned around when I got in goal and saw what they did and it was unbelievable. The crowd, they support us through thick and thin. I truly believe they are the best and the strongest in MLS. We ask them to continue supporting us and we thank them, gratefully, for their support.”

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER NICK DELEON

On his thoughts at the final whistle:
“It doesn’t feel good, obviously. Reflecting back, it was a strong season and we pretty much built a platform for this team moving forward. We know the potential of this team. It’s time now to unwind and come back even harder next year.”

On whether or not he thought the team would do this well after losing De Rosario:
“When he first went down, no, but that’s a testament to this team. We really came together and persevered. We had a good run at it, we really did.”

On the experience gained in the playoffs this season:
“It’s going to help a lot – being a rookie and experiencing that, it’s going to be huge moving forward. With my confidence and this team’s confidence in my abilities. It was a good run.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO HEAD COACH DOMINIC KINNEAR

On how it feels to be Eastern Conference champions:
“This is all excitement tonight. We’ll move on to the final when we’re probably back in Houston, but, yeah we talked about in the in the beginning of the playoffs – coming from the 5th seed, we knew it was going to be a tough road and we knew it was going to be on the road. So, for us to come out and get to the final, it’s a great accomplishment, so if the guys want to dance and hoop it up, I’m 100 percent behind them. They’ve been fantastic during this run, and congratulations to them.”

On the team’s defensive shape and tactics tonight:
“It’s a 4-3-3 if you have the ball, and in the beginning they were pushing numbers forward. I mean, [Chris] Korb and Robbie Russell were sitting as attacking midfielders, so you have to stay back with them. Saying that, we broke well – we got a good goal and we could have scored more. So, the guys were disciplined – D.C. pushed numbers forward and they put balls in the box. There were some scrambles in there – we all seemed to have the right tone in place. Like I said, we could have maybe scored and put the game completely out of reach – it got interesting at the end there – but I think we’re well-deserved to get to the final here.”

On if the club is already prepping for the final:
“I don’t know anything about the final, to be honest, because you can’t really prepare ‘cause you don’t know who you’re playing. We’ll watch the game, and then once the game ‘s over, if we can remember any of it, then we’ll start thinking about it. But it’s going to be a great plane ride home – congratulations to all our fans that came out and it was awesome; the players went up into the stands and took some photos with them with the trophy – but like I said, right now it’s all about us and come Monday, we’ll be off the phone. Tuesday morning, we’ll get together for training – that’ll be when we start thinking about the final.”

If he feels that the squad is underrated:
“It all depends – I don’t think we’re the prettiest of teams, you know, we’re not glamorous and we don’t hoot and holler and talk about ourselves too much. We just kind of go about our way and that’s maybe why people – once they don’t overlook us, they respect us, but they don’t really see us in the vein of wonderful teams. But if it comes down to results – four MLS Cups in seven years to start our franchise is pretty impressive.”

On the post-season magic that Houston tends to produce:
“I think it’s an attitude that sticks through the season as well. When you look at the loss column – we didn’t win a ton of games this year, we tied a lot – I think we were fourth as far as losses go. And that’s one thing that I think kind of carries over – we’re always involved in games, we’re always competitive. Obviously every team ramps up their concentration and attention to detail [during playoffs]. These guys do it – we just got goals at the great times and we’ve defended very well. That’s what kind of gets you to finals and hopefully gets you to win championships.”

On if he felt demoralized being a 5th seed:
“You know, for us, we just wanted to get in – we didn’t care. You know, someone said, ‘Would you prefer this team or that team?’ and we all just said ‘We’re happy that we’re still playing.’ So like I said, the only thing we knew that was going to be difficult – and the one thing I said to the staff and to the players, ‘You know if there is one team that can get to the final in difficult circumstances, I felt this was the group that could do it.’ And luckily for me, they proved me right.”

On Boniek Garcia’s play tonight:
[Boniek Garcia] is an excellent player. I mean, I love his movement on and off the ball. The flashback of the goal, I can’t really – I know Brad [Davis] was dribbling, kind of hit it across and he swung and smashed it. He’s been a real pickup force – he has a little bit of something different from the side, he provides a little bit of excitement and he takes risk out on the field and he’s a nice player to watch and he’s been a great pickup for us.”

On if there is a playoff formula in Houston:
“Every team is different. I think if you look at those first two teams when we moved from San Jose – if you look at the roster of players, it’s kind of a who’s who of MLS Cup champions and MLS Cup excellent players. I wouldn’t say there’s no names – I mean, Brad Davis is well-known, Tally Hall has been excellent, Bobby Boswell has been around for a while – but it is some new faces. The attitude is the same, the personnel obviously has changed a little bit.”

On having Brad Davis for this year’s MLS Cup:
“It’s still two weeks away. We’ll make sure that these guys, especially the first week, they’re fit. I mean, they’ve played five games in, I think, 21 days maybe. Right? Something like four in 12. So it’s just about preparing for your opponent. Like I said, once we find out who that it, we’ll start looking into it.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO FORWARD WILL BRUIN

On how the Dynamo manages to be a consistently successful post-season team:
“When post-season comes around, I think everybody holds themselves, and everyone around them, to a higher standard. Once you’re in the post-season, it’s a whole different season. You can kind of wipe clean the regular season and start fresh and every game counts. I think this team has got great camaraderie and they’ve been able to rise to the occasion so far.”

On Boniek Garcia’s goal:
“That goal was absolutely huge for us. We knew we still had 60 minutes to play and battle and anything can happen. I was actually giving [Boniek Garcia] trouble yesterday in finishing – I beat him in finishing, so he goes, ‘I’ll score one tomorrow and you won’t’ and he got me there, but I’m glad.”

On if he thinks it will be a rematch of MLS Cup 2011:
“Yeah, there’s a possibility of [a rematch of 2011 MLS Cup], but we’re going to enjoy this for tonight and then we’ll see what happens tonight in the other game and we’ll focus on that when we get back to Houston.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO MIDFIELDER BRAD DAVIS

On Houston’s defensive tactics tonight:
“Yeah, it’s very important to keep the lines tight and make it difficult to play through the middle, but try to force things out wide and the ball gets in there and collapses. We talked about hard work and dedication and commitment to the system we play – it’s been successful over the years, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment from the group of guys – over the years, we’ve had new guys come in, but continue to buy in to what we’re doing. It’s great. That’s why I love seeing new guys come in here, doing all of the hard work they put up throughout the year yield something.”

On how this game’s strategy differed from the 2nd leg against Sporting Kansas City:
“I think right from the get-go [we got forward up more than in the Kansas City game]. Right from the get-go, you saw us starting to press hard, trying not to make it easy for them to play. In all honesty, the game could have been 4-0 before [D.C. United] even scored a goal, so you know, we needed to take those chances a little bit better. Still, it doesn’t matter. We missed some chances, we still had to defend – guys did – we won, we’re happy and we’re moving on. Now we gotta wait for tonight. We’ll pay attention, but we’ll worry about whoever comes next later on.”

On the addition of Boniek Garcia this season:
[Boniek Garcia] has been a huge addition for us – he brings that something special. Good in tight spaces, good decider, gets us out of a lot of difficult situations, very dynamic, very smart player. You know, he’s been a huge addition, and one of the things is, to see him right when we came in, was a guy who was gonna get forward but also gonna get back behind the ball and defend. We knew he was going to fit in right away and I think his play has spoken for himself. It’s been pretty much a seamless move for him.”

“As soon as I laid it [off], I saw him coming across the defender. From there, he’s pretty deadly. From there, you have to have confidence in your teammate that he’s going to score.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO GOALKEEPER TALLY HALL

On why he thinks Houston has been successful in the post-season:
“Every year is different. Obviously, I would have loved to win last year, but this year is a new year you know. We’re happy with what we’ve accomplished so far, but we’ve got one more game to win. We’ve got some goals – it’s been the goal since day 1 – so we got two weeks to prepare and we’re excited with how we’re playing, so I’m excited.”

On who he thinks the Dynamo will play in MLS Cup:
“Whoever wins is a good team – both teams are good, so each team has different things offensively that we gotta look at. It doesn’t matter – if you wanna be the best, you gotta beat the best, so whoever comes through, that’s the team I wanna beat.”

On the overarching mentality of this team:
“It’s about a group of a guys that are more about the team than themselves and everyone of these guys is willing to make the extra effort for the team and I think games come quick and then you have a break, so mentally it can be difficult. But when you’re more focused on doing what’s right for the team instead of yourselves, I think it’s a successful way to go about business and that’s what we do. Guys pick it up – there’s so much with Ching-y [Brian Ching] and Bread [Davis]; they’ve been around since day 1. They’re still the core of this team – you either adapt or you don’t really fit in. It’s what it is. Everyone does it, so you don’t wanna come into this team and be the odd man out. You kind of get it and it takes a hold of you.”

On grinding out a tie tonight:
“We have to stay organized, we have to stay composed and that doesn’t change in any game and especially when the team is coming at you as D.C. did with the caliber of players they have; it’s important to stay composed.”

On how he feels to be on the Dynamo:
“We got a great group of guys – it’s fun being on this team. It’s a team that wants to work for each other, you know?”