“It was a tough night to play. The conditions weren’t easy with the field. No excuses. I didn’t think we had our best night with the ball, to be honest. I thought DC played like the home team tonight. They were aggressive, did pretty well with the ball, found space ? Marco had space. They hurt us on the flanks a little more than I thought they would. I’d like to see the replay on the penalty. That’s going to happen. I didn’t think it was (a penalty), but that’s soccer.”
“I’ll give our guys a little bit of credit in the second half. I thought they came out and competed. We did have a situation where we were down 2-0 against Kansas City and came back. We thought that if we could get the first goal in the second half we’d have a chance. It just wasn’t our night with the ball. We didn’t do a good job with the ball.”
What was the explanation to you for the penalty?
“I didn’t really get a full explanation. The ball was shot, I’m told the ball was going out. Our guys all saw the referee point to the corner, DC appealed it, and he pointed to the spot. It hit him, I think, in the shoulder.”
“The way I understood it, it was a handball. But, you’re getting our perspective – the losing team’s perspective. Our guys are generally pretty honest. They thought the ball was going out. The referee pointed to the corner, and then he reversed himself and pointed to the spot.”
How do you account for 2 games with four goals, and none during this game?
“Last year is last year. It’s soccer and it changes week to week. It’s not easy to play in RFK. Like I said, it was a little tougher conditions. From top to bottom in our league there’s not a lot of difference, in my opinion. On certain days it’s not going to be easy. Like I said, I didn’t think we did great with the ball. We’re capable of being more dangerous than we were tonight.”
Was a big factor not having Armas or Bocanegra available? Is that a major concern over the next couple of months?
“Not really. I say that, but I didn’t think Marco (Etcheverry) hurt us that bad. Like I said, I thought the flank play hurt us a little more than the central play. In our system I think we can adapt and do all right. Sure, we’re going to miss Chris and Carlos. But I think we’ve got some young kids that can step up.”
“This is what heaven feels like. This is how heaven looks. Truly it’s a great feeling to get that win. It’s more of a spiritual win, but it’s a win that we absolutely, unequivocally deserved.”
“I’m not happy . . . not happy. This harkens back to last season. But it’s true, we should have scored a hat full of goals tonight. But the guys at the back, starting with Rimando stretching his fingernails on that save to keep a blank sheet. The three guys at the back, such class. They didn’t bother us. I don’t know how it looked. We fell away a little in the second half ? we lost our way ? but, it never troubled us. The guys at the back were superlative. Midfield, tonight we saw that unselfishness give the reward of a win. Bobby Convey and Marco Etcheverry defensively worked so hard, and there so many sacrifices in that middle of the field, with Ryan Nelsen anchoring so wonderfully well. And those little yo-yo’s on the outside, Kovalenko and Bennie Olsen, were great. And then you come to the hero of the night, Ali Curtis, I don’t know how the hell to describe him. The bugle calls, and I don’t know what they put into those Duke kids, but every time. I think that’s the best game in Ali Curtis’ career since he was a little boy, it’s got to be. The hits he was taking, the runs that he was making, the menace that he was, the improvisation that he does . . . he’s not in Stoitchkov’s class, but he dragged that team tonight. And Eliseo buzzed and cut, and should have had one or two chances. But right the way through the team, great. And it was backed up with a hardy performance.”
“We knew we had to win. The battle cry tonight was ?It ain’t us. It ain’t me, John (Trask), and the coaching staff. You guys should have won at least one-half of these games ? at least 9 points ahead. You guys have earned that. Tonight you’ve got to do it, or else.’ And if that’s what it takes, that’s what it’s going to be. But they responded brilliantly. And I thought we were very much deserving of the victory. We were both missing big players. But, are you kidding me? There was only one team that should have won that tonight.”
What is it about Curtis’ style that makes him effective?
“Did you ever see a hand grenade tossed into a hen’s nest? That’s what he’s like. Ali, just do what you f—— do, just go ballistic. You know? Just go f—— ballistic. But tonight he showed more poise and more . . . he was taking his hits, he kept on showing when they were kicking him from the back. He kept on showing brave. Have we had that before? We still need more, and it’s coming!”
“I’m not happy.”
“But, this was great for them lads in there. They needed this like oxygen. They needed this like that oxygen mask when you just about to go the other way. If this team had lost tonight, I’m not sure where we would have been, just spiritually, because we know that we’ve been so damn close so many times, and it means nothing. All the long knives are out, all the cat calling, all these f—— guys who f—– says, ?It’s this, that, and the other’ ? the know-alls . . . We know we’ve been that close. And tonight we had a forward that was an antagonist, and just gave us more beef up front.”
“I said before we went out, because one or two of the lads have come in and said and had talks with me, ?When’s Ali going to get his chance?’ It been hard because we see him day to day in practice, and we’ve told him he’s doing very well. I don’t know if that’s the difference. It was Ali’s night tonight. He was the rallying cry tonight. I think his unselfishness and his crashing was the difference.”
“Honest, those other performances tonight that were very special to me tonight. I had meetings, and I’m not going to go into details, but I had meetings, some pivotal meetings with certain players, that needed to step it up in a very definitive way, on a bad pitch, on a bad night, on one of situations on a teeter-totter, which way is it going to go. Well, they made it go their way. They made it.”
What was your opinion of the penalty kick?
“Well, which one? Convey’s one should have been a penalty. I thought it was . . . it looked like from my point it was a penalty. Are you f—— kidding me? The ones that have been taken off the table from us? I don’t even want to go down that road because you hope it levels itself out. I’ve said to so many of you guys that I hope it just balances out over the season. It seemed to be a penalty. I don’t know. There’s a billion-thousand things going on in my head during the game, but I remember the instance. I looked like it from my view, but so did the other seven that we haven’t been given. So, who knows? And it nice to get that little break.”
“You know, I hope it was a penalty. That would be beautiful! Lady luck is starting to show her teeth instead of her ass to us. She’s starting to give us a little break. That would be beautiful, warts and all. We stole one.”
“But, in all honesty guys, it felt that we earned the win tonight. I was a bit disappointed that we lost our way in the second half. We’re not saying we’re there yet. We’re not content. We’ve got a long way to go. But, it’s good for the fans after a day like today to see a good little turn out in face of all that terrible weather. They’ve been biting the lip harder and harder. That’s the way it felt. And sometimes you’ve got to bite through your lip, and that’s the way it’s going to be. I thought tonight was absolutely deserved.”
How did it feel out there tonight?
“It felt great. I’ve been wanting to start all season. Every player wants to get out there and just play. It worked out well for the team and it worked out well for me individually. I was just happy to be out there on the field and it and I worked hard. I’m happy we got the win.”
Coach Hudson said that this was the best game that you’ve ever played.
“I don’t know if it was the best games I’ve ever played, but it’s one of the best games that I’ve played as a professional. It’s something I can build on and get better as a player. When you don’t get too many minutes as a player it wears on you. So I knew that this was a great opportunity for me to go out there and show everyone what I’m made of. And it was a great opportunity as a team to show what we’re made of and make some strides in our division and get some points. I was just grateful to play well and to get the win.”
What were you able to bring ?
“I think the coaching staff . . . I think one of the things they really like is that I like to go forward and take players on. I take a lot of risks and take a lot of chances, and just create as many scoring opportunities as possible. All of our forwards are dangerous and very talented. You look at the different teams and we’ll look at different lineups to see what is the best for us. This worked best for us this game. Maybe next game it will be a different scenario. We have faith in the coaches and they have faith in us. We just go out there and try to do our jobs every night.”