D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen
On New York Red Bulls tonight:
I think New York put a whooping on us. They were very good, and we weren’t. You know like I said about halfway through the first half.
On their shortcomings tonight:
Well in a game like this you have to have everybody play well, and we had very little of that. Our passing was poor, we lacked ideas, it wasn’t for lack of want, it just was an off night. It’s not good timing to happen.
Again on the Red Bulls performance:
We weren’t great for large stretches of that game, but they were very [audio unclear]. They’ve got a lot of class out there and the way they pass the ball and I thought their midfield in particularly was very sharp and [Thierry] Henry, when he chooses to, is one of the best players in this league so if you’re not up to it, if you’re not having a good game, things like this could happen.
On Steve Birnbaum being on the big stage for the first time:
Steve has been very steady since he’s come in and we’ve asked a lot of him and I think he held up pretty well tonight and again it wasn’t his individual play, it was collectively. We just weren’t good tonight and it was a poor poor day to not be at our best.
D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius
On what they need to do to improve going forward
Connecting passes, our movement, you know, they just looked like the sharper team and you know after the first half I think it got into our head, but you know that’s stuff that we can clean up on our own so we know what we need to do and we have a tough task at home, we’ve beat them at home two times this year already.
On what gives them hope going forward
We’ve already beaten them [twice] at home, we know we can do it. We know that a lot of it’s on us that we can sharpen up. We have to come out and put pressure on them like they came and put it on us tonight.
On if the team was caught off guard by the quality of New York tonight
We’ve had some off games and I don’t think we were punished for it. We got punished by the better team tonight. A team that has a lot of attacking pieces that can punish you and they did that.
On how they decided whether or not to go for the away goal or to defend more
I think we threw some numbers forward a few times and you risk that, but with the away goals being so important, it’s worth the risk. At the end I think we did a decent job getting back and getting [audio unclear] where we did throw the numbers forward, you know we just weren’t able to get the away tie.
D.C. United defender Bobby Boswell
On what keeps them optimistic of a turnaround:
Playing at RFK, you know we play at home in front of our fans, we take care of business there. Now we’ve got a little bit more of a challenge with the scoreline and whatnot, but anytime we play at home I think we have a good chance to go out and get a good result and now we just need to – we know what we have to do so it almost makes it even more definitive in how we play.
On the Red Bulls most likely coming out playing a different style in the next game:
Yeah that’s the thing with playoff soccer, you always want to have an advantage going into it, but at the same time you can look at it, like I said everything’s two ways. They’re going to change the way they play. Are we going to change the way we play? That’s the whole chess match so we’ll play in front of our fans, we’ll be out in full force and I’m sure we’ll learn from tonight. A lot of hard lessons out there. We’ll regroup, that’s what this is all about. It’s about what team can go take care of business through both legs, it’s not just 90 minutes. It’s a two game series.
On if he felt they were caught off guard a little and punished for mistakes:
I think that’s playoff soccer, [it] doesn’t really matter who you’re playing. I think the teams we were playing, they were still playing for something so it’s something that can hurt you on any given day. I think tonight you just saw a bit of class that you’re not going to see anywhere else around the league. With that said, I don’t think we were playing up to our capabilities tonight, I don’t think we were hungry enough and we didn’t take care of the ball and you can talk about mistakes, but at the end of the day we’re going to soak this in, we’ll watch some video and learn from it, and we got to get ready because it’s not one of these things where you get to hang your head because you can go out and change your own fate. It’s not the greatest spot to be in, but it’s not over. Other teams have done it before and we can do it. This is a group that can.
On what he attributes to the lack of cohesiveness today:
You know if I could answer that, I’d probably play the lotto or something. I thought we were doing alright for a while there and then it just, it [was] kind of [like] a snowball. One thing went wrong and then it kind of – we didn’t handle it the best way. I don’t think it was a terrible performance, the result’s ugly though. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. We’ve played some ugly ones and had good results. Tonight it just didn’t go our way, it went New York’s way and like I said, we’re not going to crumble. We’re not going to let this break us. We [have] got to go out and get back to work and find a way to get it done.
New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke
On tonight’s match:
It was a big victory. It started off, in the first 10-15 minutes it was obvious that they were rested, and physically up for it, and we looked a little slower than usual. They put it on us a little, great pressure by them. I think after that it opened up a little bit, and once we were able to find the wings and play a couple of penetrating balls, I think from then on, especially in the second half, we found a lot more success, particularly getting the ball out to Lloyd on the right, or Thierry on the left, or him coming into the middle.
It’s a good result, and the most important thing is that we got the shutout. No away goals for them and we go back to D.C. 2-0 up. It’s far from over though. D.C. won the East this year for many reasons, one of them being that they get results. They’re organized and hard-working, so we know it’s going to be a fight next weekend.
On team’s energy level after playing Thursday night:
You’ve got to ask them, to be honest with you. I’m proud of them. It was definitely a concern, but you’re right they looked pretty energized in the second half. I think that they understood that we wanted to keep a clean sheet tonight, but the more goals we put in puts us in a better situation. I think they were really pressing, I think Dax [McCarty], Eric [Alexander] and our back four did a great job of holding down the fort behind. At times, especially 2-0 up, Eckersley is still bobbing down the wing and I’m screaming at him, 2-0 is a good result, so let’s be smart here. Overall, they showed it, especially in the second half. I’m the same way as you, asking where’d they find the energy, but now we have a week off, so hopefully we have the energy to be there for 90 minutes.
On his role in helping team succeed in playoffs:
Listen, I’m not taking credit, at all, for anything like that. These guys are experienced enough. A lot of them have been around this team for at least the last two, three, four years if not longer. I don’t have to remind them about our record in the playoffs. I honestly think that, after last year’s season, and how this season has gone, leading up the last month or so, guys were not very happy. I think they took it upon themselves to say we’re better than this, this is a great opportunity for us.
All the hype around Thierry’s future and everything, I think he stepped it up big time, and I think it’s just a team thing. Mentally, we have a lot of veteran guys around, whether they’re veterans in MLS, or veterans of European leagues, they know what it takes at crunch time. Perhaps during the season they’re not really tuned in, but over the last month and into the playoffs they have been. It could be any number of things.
On Bradley Wright-Phillips:
Bradley wears number 99, he plays forward, he’s scored a couple of goals this year…I’m just going to keep repeating myself like I have the last couple of months, but to me, Bradley has huge for this team not just because of the goals, but because of his work rate, because of him doing everything that we ask of him, whether it’s not ‘sexy’ or enjoyable to do, he’ll do it for us. So, the goals are second to those things, to me. Again, the guy can score goals, and especially over the last month he just seems to really be putting them away. I’m glad the record thing is out of the way, because I don’t know how much that affected him, but he wants to win. He wants to win for the guys around him and he wants to do the dirty work for them. Bradley has been invaluable for us.
On keeping a clean sheet after just 5 all season:
One of my bosses gets mad at me when I answer a question like this, but I don’t really know. Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps they paid more attention to the scouting reports over the last two, three games. Like I said before, maybe during the season, it’s such a long season for these guys that have played at high levels, maybe they’re not as tuned in, I don’t know, but they’ve really tuned in, over the last, definitely over the last two playoffs games, but over the last month or so. I just think it’s a pride thing, they understand now that it’s really crunch time, next weekend could be our last game if we don’t approach it the right way, and we don’t go in there and get the job done. I think, I know, that these guys don’t want to stop playing next weekend, especially after 10 months, from preseason on, 10 months of going at it. Perhaps they’re a little more tuned in, and have a little bit more of that motivation and edge.
On team’s success in terms of possession:
The first 15 minutes I think they had the bulk of possession. It felt like we were chasing like crazy, and they were spreading us out and getting after us. But, listen, I just felt that once we got the ball side to side a little bit, quickly, then that opened up a little bit in the middle to play forward. In the first half we were just trying to pump balls in the middle, penetrating balls and there was just no space for it. Once we went a little bit side to side, that opened up a little bit to find Peguy, to find Thierry, that allowed us to have a little more possession. This team, over the season, when we’re off, we’re a terrible possession team, but when we’re on, like you saw in the buildup to the goal, we’re phenomenal. Tonight we were somewhere in between. And yeah, we had a bit of possession and we got two goals out of it, so, it’s good.
On Thierry’s involvement in two goals:
The first one was a great little buildup with a lot of people involved. Just his back heel, and to his credit, a lot of people would have done the backheel but not had no clue what was behind them. He certainly knew exactly what was there. And then Peguy, intelligent enough to body up and let that ball through.
I can’t speak on the second goal because I honestly don’t remember the buildup to it. Thierry is a special player. Anyone who knows anything about soccer knows that. It was interesting taking him off with 30 minutes to go, or whatever that was, 25… because I’ve hardly ever done that. Or was it 20, 20 minutes to go? Something like that. 10? Alright, alright. I was giving myself a little credit. It was interesting to take him off because I’ve hardly ever done that. To have a young guy like Oyongo who has been doing well to come on and play for him…Thierry is a special player. I said it a couple weeks ago, he could play two, three more years if he wants.
On the difference in Thierry’s playoff performance this year:
Me, obviously. The proof is there. Joking. As far as Thierry goes, I don’t think it’d be fair to say that he didn’t show up, or whatever words you used, in the last couple playoff games because it takes 11 guys. He still had magic moments I remember from the last three years in the playoffs.
On Peguy’s improved play:,br /> Where Peguy’s concerned, you look at him in practice every day, and what he can do with the ball… and this is going back to last year, and just realizing at this stage in his career he’s not a frontrunner. He can’t really get behind guys like he used to. He’s not as comfortable with his back to the goal as he maybe once was, and then just realizing how good he is with the ball at his feet it was just natural to try him back there. To be honest, it was tough last year because of the way we played, without a true attacking midfielder, whereas this year, over the last couple months, we’ve played with somewhat of a system that allows that, and he’s been good at it. Tim plays in that spot too sometimes, and over the last couple of games Tim has done phenomenal for us, and exactly what we wanted. Tonight Peguy did well, especially when we got him the ball. He’s a good player, and cut from the same cloth that Thierry is. Over there in France they do things with ball that are pretty amazing.
New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry
On the match and the win:
Yeah [it was a good performance], but we’re not there yet, so it’s kind of a mixed feeling because you’re obviously happy because you won and you’re going to go over there [to D.C.] with something to defend. I’ve been in some times before in my career where everybody thought that maybe we were out, or maybe we were going through and then it didn’t happen. We have to relax; they [D.C. United] have showed this whole season that they are a good team. We took care of business at home and I expect them to try to do the same thing on Saturday. Like I said to you, it’s always better to go out there with something to defend, but we haven’t done anything yet.
On where the team found the energy to get the win:
It’s playoff time. Like I said to you, we’ve been unfortunate sometimes at home, and not taking away anything that some of the teams did in the past year in playoffs, but today we put the ball in the back of the net and then it does change the game. If you go one-nil up and they’re trying to come out and stuff like that. I thought that we were compact, difficult to beat, and we know that we can score. We need to make sure that we could go back there without conceding a goal and obviously try to get some along the way. Like I said to you, I don’t know. Some of the guys are obviously tired, but now we’re going to have six days to recover before we play them, but it’s very important to not concede a goal, not to concede a goal today. Like I said to you, it doesn’t mean anything.
On if the team feels less pressure since the game against Sporting Kansas City:
No, you know, we still have all the old problems. That’s why for me nothing is done yet because we went to L.A. [Galaxy] and we lost four-nil. So, if D.C. does the same thing then we are out, so anything can happen, but if we play like we played tonight then we can give them a game. Like I said to you, they did show all season that they were more than a decent side. So, we took care of business tonight, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same game at their place and we all know how difficult it is to go there.
New York Red Bulls midfielder Peguy Luyindula
On his goal:
He [Thierry Henry] saw me. He saw me going in the space there and that ball was perfect. I just had to focus myself on the control and the finish because, as you can see, the ball was right on me.
On moving from playing forward to midfield:
I like it. I kind of like it because I didn’t really think about it because I played midfield when I was young, so it wasn’t that new for me and the fact that I like playing with the ball at my feet was a good idea to me, to step back a little bit and just try to make the play.
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles
On Thierry Henry and the way he is playing:
It is pretty incredible as a spectator to see what he’s doing at 37 years old and as a teammate you just really appreciate those moments because not only is he a huge part of what we are trying to accomplish here, but he’s been doing this for four and a half years. So we’re hoping that we can kind of just get on board and help him get to where he wants to get and I know that he has a huge decision in his future, but that’s for him to decide. Right now we’re playing so we don’t have to worry about that and we’ll hopefully continue to play and let him postpone that decision as much as possible.
On the clean sheet:
All season we couldn’t put together back-to-back shutouts. I think that’s just a testament also to Dax [McCarty] and Eric [Alexander]. I mean those guys limit the chances. [Jamison] Olave and Ibra [Ibrahim Sekagya], the whole back four, the played great today. We knew that they were going to be direct, they were going to find Fabian [Espindola], and their offense runs through Espindola. They expect him to do something great every single time and if he doesn’t they’re kind of at a standstill. Ibra and Olave did a great job, but huge credit goes to Eric and Dax. Their ability to limit their [D.C. United’s] chances and win as many second balls as possible.
On preparing to play the next game:
Well this is definitely a new situation for us. Since I’ve been in New York, I haven’t had this opportunity to be going into the next leg of the playoffs with this advantage. We had a good chance last year and then we squandered it in the second half, but our thinking is going to be the same. We want to go down there and we want to first maintain a clean sheet and we want to get a result. But I mean look, because we played well today, not only do we have the advantage of going down there and scoring a goal and really putting them in a hole, but nothing’s going to change in the sense that we want to get a result there regardless.
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips
On if he was surprised Luyindula left the ball for him to score a goal:
No, that’s the kind of player he is. You know those guys; they get more enjoyment out of an assist, or the same enjoyment out of an assist than a goal. I have to expect those things. When I first came in, Titi [Thierry Henry] told me always expect the ball and that’s what I do.
On the New York-D.C. rivalry:
Yeah it feels good. You know I got a lot of messages from the fans on Twitter, Instagram, and they were saying how much it meant to them. I tried to play for them today and I think obviously the boys that have been here for a long time know what it means to the club and the fans and I think we’ve done a good job of showing what it means.
On this year’s playoffs compared to last year:
Yeah you know it put us in a good position. It looks like, well at the moment, that we learned from last year. Hopefully we have and we’ve got to go there and we’ve still got to do the job. It’s still just halftime, they’re a good team, they can get goals at any time. Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola, and you know, they’re dangerous, so it will be difficult for us.