IMAGE: MTL 10.27

Playoff Post-Match Quotes: United v. Montreal Impact

D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen

General thoughts on the game…
"It’s obviously jolting. It’s disappointing. We were second best from the start tonight so I’ll look at myself and analyze why that was the case. I thought they played a great game and I give a lot of credit to them. If you give up a goal against them you’re in trouble because they counterattack as well as anyone in the league. Piatti is a superb player and he showed it today. The ball for the second goal was extremely classy. We didn’t deal with the set piece and now it’s 2-0 and we’re chasing the game against one of the better counterattacking teams in the league the last couple of years. We showed some life slowly but surely as the game went but it was too late. I don’t know if we were reading our own press a little bit, thinking it was going to be easy and we were going to walk to the championship but that’s not how it goes….You need edge and you need confidence and if one starts to fade a little bit with each guy, you’ll get punished for it. I like my group though. I’m extremely disappointed and the guys are extremely disappointed but I really like this group. I’m excited to work with them next year and build off of what I think is a very good nucleus…but again it’s a very disappointing night. I want to say sorry to the fans, they deserved more than that but that’s how it goes sometimes." 

On if there were something specific Montreal did to shut down the playmakers…
"Their ability to sniff out second balls all night was great. I think they were extremely physical with Lucho, Patrick Nyarko, Lloyd Sam…they’re a very physical team. Overall  I thought they were very good front to back and their early goal helped them and allowed them to keep their shape and stick to what they’re good at. Their execution was very good when they had their chances." 

On his message to team and players going forward to next year…
"I told them in the locker room that I’m extremely excited to work with them again. A majority of this group will be coming back and we’re going to build on the second half of the season…that’s a very exciting thing. It’s tough to feel that in the moment right now. But again, our nucleus is very exciting, very promising and if we add to it hopefully we’ll be able to put together the types of performances that we did in the second half over the course of a full year. I think we’ll be more familiar with each other and I think we can use this to build from…use the sting of this game throughout next year so we understand we can’t let down our edge." 

D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum

On his overall thoughts…
“We had a lot of momentum going into this game. I think giving up a goal five minutes into the game is tough and we gave up one before half that was also tough. I think if we had gone into the half 1-0 then we would have been okay but 2-0 and then we gave up the third goal. We’ve been good at not giving up soft goals like that throughout the year and I just don’t think we did a good job at the back this game. All over I don’t think the energy was there.”

On if he anticipated Montreal’s intensity…
“We expected it, we just didn’t show up as a group.”

On what went wrong…
“I don’t know. It’s tough and it hurts right now. A lot. We thought we had a great group and game plan going into the game but it just didn’t pan out for us like we wanted it to.”

On breaking down the Montreal defense…
“They scored that goal early and then they were a very tough team to break down. They sit in a lot and don’t really press you so you can’t break them down easily. Credit to them they had a good game plan and they executed it well.”

D.C. United midfielder Lamar Neagle

On the surprise of tonight’s result considering their good run of form…
“I think it’s the same for everybody. We’ve had a great run of form the last couple months, especially at home. We've been moving the ball and winning second balls leading up to this point. That’s why it’s frustrating for us to have that build-up and then this kind of letdown in the playoffs.”

On what the reason was for tonight’s result…
“If you watch bad games we’ve had leading up to this at home, we’re still winning second balls and winning the first balls. At the beginning of the first half, that wasn’t happening and they ended up getting one. I don’t know. I can’t pinpoint it right now.”

On possible change in momentum from changing lineup in previous match…
“I wouldn’t say that. We played a very different team. We can’t quantify [momentum]. Who knows? [Ben Olsen] was giving the starters a rest, that was a good thing coming into this game. I think it’s just frustrating. ”

On takeaways from this season…
“The character of our team. I think at the beginning of the season, we knew it was going to be a process getting started. Once we got the right pieces, [it was] just about watching our team grow and building something amazing. I really thought that leading up to the playoffs, with all of the momentum that we had, that we would go deep. I still think any other day this game could’ve gone a lot different.”

On opposing players who caused the greatest threat…
“Their midfield obviously runs the team. [Ignacio] Piatti is a good player who slows it down. If you look at our home games, we were playing like we’ve played before, so I think it’s more on us.”

On possibly being too confident going into the playoffs…
“I don’t think so. I didn’t get that feeling around the locker room to where we thought we were invincible. We knew we had to fight. Any other day could’ve been our day. It’s just frustrating. I can’t really say right now.”

Montreal Impact head coach Mauro Biello

On whether his game strategy was to set the tone early…
“We knew that D.C. has been playing well. They’ve had a lot of confidence, a lot of rhythm scoring goals at home. It was important for us to establish our shape early, to not give them space. We were able to get that corner kick goal, which was huge. Then we were able to control the game in different moments, in the midfield, and then finding spaces out wide with our speed.”

On Matteo Mancosu’s performance…
“He was fantastic along with the others. His ability, his runs, his timing. His second goal he scored was excellent, a cross from Ambroise [Oyongo], getting the combination with Nacho [Piatti] on the first goal. It’s a guy that brings experience to our team. He’s really found his rhythm and has adapted well to the team.”

On Mancosu's previous experience playing as a lone striker…
“I think he’s played that position before. It’s a mobile forward that’s able to get in behind, that’s able to hold up the ball, and is a good finisher. Right now, he’s been able to get us goals and get us assists in key games.”

On Ignacio Piatti’s performance on the night…
“I think Piatti has shown that he’s one of the best players in the league tonight. In a tough game, in a game away from home, in these types of games where it’s tough for away teams, he came up big. He gets the assist, he gets a great goal at the end. His ability to hold up the ball, to unbalance [the other team], he’s a special player and we saw that tonight.”

On lessons learned from Impact’s previous playoff experience…
“We talked about it this week. It’s about emotions, it’s about managing momentum, it’s about executing in the playoffs. If those three things are intact in the group, along with the concentration, you have a good chance of winning. In the end, the team was focused tonight on what they had to do, and they executed.”

On Didier Drogba’s status ahead of Eastern Conference semifinals…
“I spoke to him the other day. We talked about this game because he didn’t train much. It would’ve been difficult, but the game for Sunday could be more realistic for him.”

On Drogba’s availability for Sunday if he is healthy…
“If he’s healthy, he’ll be available for me.”

Montreal Impact forward Dominic Oduro

On his overall thoughts on the game…
“We had a game plan. We went out there and executed that game plan really well. Kudos to us. Pat ourselves on the back. We have to give them credit to. They fought hard but we had our chances and we were able to put it away.”
 
On how key Mancosu was tonight…
“Really key. During practice we tried to find him all the space. He had a fantastic header. You can’t deny that. I thought about Piatti slipping through was a really great run from him.”
 
On if Mancosu is starting to find rhythm after joining midseason…
“I think he already found his rhythm. That is the reason why he is playing right now, because he makes those good runs and that is why he is playing. He has been a great addition to the team and he proved it today.”
 
On his thoughts about Nacho…
“He still didn’t pass me the ball but, I’m still mad at him. He did what he had to do. The guy is just fantastic. I’m just hoping he will pass me the ball next time. 
 
On if the Drogba situation has affected the team…
“We are good right now. Listen, Drogba is still a part of our team. As far as I know he is dealing with a little bit of an injury. We have our own stories. Obviously if you are in the locker room there is a different story. He is still a part of the team and when he is ready to play he will be back in the lineup to play.”
 
On if Drogba will play on Sunday…
“I don’t know. That is not my call. That is the coaches call.”
 
On if Drogba came to the locker room…
“He was here in the locker room. Like I said, he is a part of this team and he is a big influence. Even at practice, even though he isn’t out there he is still in the locker room motivating us. Like I said, you guys will hear a different story about our locker room. He is good. We are good. Everyone is good.”

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush

On the team's play tonight…
“Very Italian feel to it. We sat compact, we countered with great efficiency, and when you get that first goal in the playoffs it opens things up for you. We were able to counter and when it got to 2, or 3-0 it was like a freeway. So it was just a matter of trying to put our chances away in the second half. They got two at the end but at the end of the day those two didn’t really matter to us.”
 
On the grind at the end in the playoffs…
“In this league it is just about getting to the playoffs. Everyone wants to have the bye. That is obviously where you want to be but, you don’t want to kill yourself throughout the season just to get into the top two. As long as you are in the playoffs. When you look at very good teams like Columbus and New England who would obviously love to be in the position of the playoff team right now. So there are very good teams that don’t make the playoffs. But we did enough to get ourselves into the playoffs knowing all along that we are good enough to go up against anybody and we have the makeup of a team that we aren’t scared of anybody. We can make a run if things go our way.”
 
On how much the Drogba situation mattered internally…
“It was something that wasn’t really addressed a whole lot. It is something that, Didier has been around every day in the locker room, with the team, he’s been great with the guys still. So, whatever the resolution was, or is still going on, I think a lot of people think that it’s just a big scandal right now, and it’s two sides trying to fight each other, but the back injury is real. And regardless of what people want to believe how things went, and I’m sure there were some hurt feelings along the way on both sides but the back injury is a real thing and hopefully he can get himself ready for some time in the next couple of games.”
 
On the luxury of having Drogba play on Sunday…
“Absolutely. Whatever his role is, when we have Mateo and Didier capable of providing minutes we are a better team, absolutely. So in a tight game if it was 1-0 in the 75th minute today and you can have someone like Didier Drogba come on the field and not only get you a goal but help on set pieces, defending, and ariel balls when they are pushing guys like Birnbaum up the field. That is one of the things that he is very very good at. A lot of the times people focus on the goals and things like that but we need him for situations like that, and hopefully he will be available to play.”
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