‘A wild game! . . . First, let’s cover a few things. I don’t know how much longer we’re going to have Timmy Howard, but I think he gave us a few more memorable saves to remember him by as he moves on. Certainly the one on Quaranta that was over his head, where he was able to chase it down and knock it over, was just an amazing thing. And then our youngster, I had to say to him, ‘We can still use you, but we’re going to have to stick you in the goal for a second.’ Not much phases him. But, from our standpoint there were a lot of factors, a bunch of guys, playing down a man, sticking together, and coming away with a result. That means a lot to a team that is trying to grow. That more than anything is what we’ll take away from this game.’
Even though you were playing down a man, what did you tell them at half time to get them to come out and out play DC United?
‘Just that we had to stay organized. When we got the ball we had to still be able to play and keep it a little bit so that we weren’t just sitting in our end the whole time. And that they weren’t going to get a lot of chances, but they were going to get a couple that were going to come our way.?
Do you think the exploitation of the GK substitution loophole was in the spirit of the game?
‘Those are the rules in our league. So you have the opportunity to use a fourth sub if that’s how you do it. When you have a bunch of guys that work hard and give everything they have, and are cramping, and you’re playing the game down a man, in this heat on this afternoon, then you look after your players first. That to me is the most important part of the spirit of the game ? you look after your players.’
Can you talk about Eddie Gavin? It looked like you put him in at the right place, at the right time.
‘Well, he’s very good at running with the ball. That’s one of his greatest skills. When he gets the ball and runs with it he can make plays. He was able to get the ball and run with and place it into the far corner. Pretty good stuff.’
Can you talk about the back line, especially the play after the red card, and putting Ziadie in central defense?
‘I thought Craig played very well. I thought his positioning was very good and we could get things back together. It was good to get Chris Leach on the field ? it’s been a lot of weeks keeping him out. They did a good job of staying organized and winning the plays. It was a step forward.’
All year long you’ve relied on young players. Many would like to know what is the secret to you making them successful?
‘Young players always want to play, and they’ll give you everything they have. It’s just having good young players ? that’s first, and showing confidence in them in certain situations that they will help the team. And knowing they are good players and that they will get their chances.’
What did you think of the referee’s double yellow on Arena?
‘I thought the first yellow came quick. It might have been his first foul. And once that happen, with the spot that he was in, on the second one you probably have to give that one. He put himself in that situation because he was quick to put himself in that situation.’
Can you talk about Jaime Moreno’s play?
‘I think Jaime was pretty motivated to play today. The last few weeks of training you could see him getting his confidence back, you could see him getting fitter. Now we just have to keep going step by step. We weren’t going to be stupid about it and try to push him too far today. We had an agreement that it was going to be somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes, and then we’ll build on it and see if next week he can go a little bit longer. But it’s good to have him back.’
Was Ali Curtis speed effective against your defense?
‘I actually think we hurt ourselves with some bad turnovers and our defense was caught in between. That’s when they were able to punish us. The game started, and I thought DC came out early and press in midfield and get after the ball, and I didn’t think we handled it well.’
Was that the difference in the second half – not turning the ball over, or DC not pressing?
‘I think the weather plays a role. Early in games like that you have to get through it without losing bad balls. I felt there was a point in the first half there was more room to play balls. I was yelling on the field, ‘Now you can get things going!’ But early in the first half we didn’t handle it well at all.’
Were you surprised by DC United’s lack of urgency in the second half?
‘I was watching my guys. . . . On our end you try to stay organized, try to stay patient, you need your goalkeeper to make some saves, which we sure had that going for us.’
‘An awful loss. I don’t know what Man United is paying our league for Tim Howard, but it cannot be enough. We had a multitude of chances throughout the game. It was an exciting game. Far more chances fell to us from the first minute right up until they got the winner. That’s nothing new.’
‘I thought there was some disgraceful sporting behavior on their part, but that’s nothing to do with the result.’
‘I honestly thought and felt that it’s got to come. That’s the way this season’s gone. We’re just on the wrong side of it, and we’ve been that way all year. I cannot ask that much more of the guys ‘a great, great effort.’
‘I think there’s a couple of things that aren’t going to change until certain things happen, which probably won’t happen until next year. But, I’m still proud of the team with the effort and commitment, and the chances they made for each other. How can you fault Ali Curtis? Mike Petke? Ryan (Nelsen)? Galin (Ivanov)? Namoff? There were some tremendous performances. I just thought it was really going to slot in for us with the chances, but Howard was monumental.’
Can you comment on the lack of urgency during much of the second half? Was it because the team was confident that a goal would eventually come?
‘I was disappointed with the second half, especially because we were up a man, not to take them more in that central midfield area. That’s where I thought we would really hurt them and drive on. Because we played so many balls over the top a lot of the time, I thought we’d be able to better connect in the second half ? going in fresh and confident. We were confident that it was going to come in the second half.’
‘But you’re right, there seemed to be that lapse ? it was inevitable, and it was going to come. But having said that, after we got through that awkward period we had many chances later in the game. You have to earn it. It’s not just going to come by a favor. I thought when we made a couple of changes, and the changes were knocking on the door again . . . it’s been that way all year. It’s continual. It’s frustration. And when they stick the dagger in your eye at the end, that’s a real kick in the b—-.’
‘But a tie would have been disappointing. I would have had this same somber voice that I have now. But the loss is a real heavy body blow to us, and the guys have got to pick themselves up, and we’ve got to see if we can make a change to affect the team.’
Can you talk about the GK substitution?
‘That was a lot of stuff. But I’m not crying about that. You heard the crowd. There were some things that were a bit out of order. But that’s not the story of the night, it’s just a little side thing. . . . it’s just another chapter in this season. Tough f——- luck.’
‘We’ve got to turn that into our advantage and we seem to be incapable of turning that adversity of another team, when they’ve been under pressure and we’ve got them on the ropes, and we cannot hit them with that killer punch. It’s not like a just a thing up front. It’s not like a guy putting away goals in the net. For me there’s something much more central. There’s something much more involved, and I think if you ask a lot of our guys they’ll elude to it. I’ll not say it. I don’t mean to be cryptic. You have to have a lot of respect for what is here.’
Do you feel any pressure on your job?
‘Sure, you always feel that sort of pressure when a team is . . . you cannot change a whole side. Something is needed to get us over. I’ve tried everything I know, and the guys have backed me up. That’s Manchester United’s goalkeeper that saved three shots. You could go to La Bombonera, you could go to Bernbeu, and you won’t see goalkeeping like that ? that’s sublime. And he defied us! And that’s part of the thing ? you invest in a great goalie and that’s what you’re going to get. Howard was the big difference. It wasn’t anybody else. And that’s an aspect where it can cost people their jobs. I understand that. If that’s what the management wants to do, that’s what it’s going to be. I’m not going to go in and throw myself on a sword because I think the players are backing me up the best they can.’
‘But it comes to a point also, and this really important also, that it gets to this point where we’ve been so close, and we’re clinging by our finger nails, that we need to shake the tree. There’s two ways of doing that: You remove the coach; or the coach makes changes that are very hard to do. I would like to hope that the club gives me the opportunity to do that because I’ve trusted a lot of players, I’ve put my faith in a lot of players, and they’ve done their damn best. But now maybe, it’s time to give one or two people who have been on the sidelines their opportunity to salvage this season and the hot water that we’re in. So we’ll see. . . .’
‘The club has always given John and I, and Dave Kasper pretty much carte blanche. They’ve been nothing but supportive. But there’s always that you want to be respectful of the club and the heritage and everything like that, so you always try to build that part of the equation into it, and that’s what we’ve done this year. And we’ve been moderately pleased with it. It’s come down to a point tonight where you think, ‘This is the turning point . . . this is the Last Stop Saloon,’ even perhaps for me. We need to start getting this more in focus. That’s the way a season goes. Tough, tough game ? so close and so far. And that’s the way it’s looking. We don’t want to lose pace with the pack.’
‘And I’m certainly understanding of any feeling from the club . . . I’ll still be a DC United fan, and I’ll still come to every game because I believe that these guys.’
‘And maybe we are a player short as well. And that will change soon as well. And that may be the last roll of the dice.’
Lack of finishing chances hurt the team again. Comment?
‘Yeah, it’s been a long season, it’s been a hard season. It’s just one of those days where you can do a lot of those things right offensively and defensively, and have a lot of shots that went on goal. Timmy (Howard) made a lot of great saves. They cleared a lot of balls. I think they cleared one of Santino’s right off the line. It was just a tough loss for us. I thought we went forward well, and we just didn’t get the win . . . didn’t get the result. We’ll just have to start off again strong on Monday and get ready for Saturday.’
Was this the toughest loss this season?
‘It really hurts hard. We got rolling with a road win in Dallas, and came in here with a lot of confidence. We started right from the beginning whistle and going positively at New York. We got a goal lead on them, and then they came back, but we came back again. I think the crowd sensed that we were going to win this game, and I think we sensed that we were going to win this game. It just didn’t happen for one reason or another, and it hurts very bad.’
What happened with the loss of urgency in the second half by the team? Was it the heat?
‘Every guy on this team is fit. I don’t know what happened. They were down a man and it was the perfect opportunity to get on them real quick, and we didn’t do that. It was as if we gave them a couple of minutes to get back in the game, gave them the opportunity to waste some clock, and we let them have it. That really hurt us in the end.’
You’re wearing the captain’s armband for the second game. Was this selected by the players or by the coach?
‘I think it was a discussion between Marco and the coach. They decided that Marco needed to concentrate on his game and all this. I think everything worked well on Wednesday, and Marco and the coach asked me if I wanted to take it. And I was very proud to take it for DC United.’
Is this the most disappointing loss of the year?
‘It’s disappointing of course, especially considering how many chances we had. I don’t know how many chances were cleared off the line. It was unbelievable. But that’s why this game is so great ? you can dominate a game so much, and then it can bite you in the behind.’
The season is only half finished. Does the team need to make major changes?
‘That’s up to the coaches. That’s what they’re paid to do. I think, ‘Yes.’ I think it’s obvious that you can’t meander along as we have in the past two years, and we haven’t gotten anywhere. We’ve just got to just find a way to win. If that means to play Brian Carroll, or to play David Stokes, or the likes of these guys who are going to give it everything, then it’s got to be done. I think names have got to go out the door. The so-called ‘names’ of this club are not performing. We’re not winning. So we’ve got to find ways to win.’
The season has been up and down, even this week has been up and down.
‘Of course it’s disappointing because you come from a game in Dallas where DC United played exactly the way we want to play, and I think we had the players on the field that could do it. And then you come back home, to the home fans, and we let them down. Saying that, we had our chances to win this game. We had so many chances to put this game away.’
‘This was a very, very tough loss. And we’ll see now who on this team has the character to stick it out, and get back into it. There’s 16 games left. It’s not the end of the world. But this is a tough one. We’re all feeling this one pretty deep down, and we need to bounce back. And we need to bounce back in a big way. We need to start getting the points. Again, it’s going to be a big time gut check for us, and hopefully we’re up for the challenge.’
Coach Hudson was saying that some players are getting the job done. Is that what the player see?
‘I’m not commenting on that. I’m not going to get into ‘who’s doing it . . . and who isn’t.’ We’re a team right now, and it’s so easy to do that right now. We need to go back and sort things out as a team. We’re going to be OK. We still have the talent on this team to be a contender in this league. We were unlucky today as well. Timmy Howard came up huge in an impressive performance. And the Metrostars had an impressive performance. That was a big time, gutsy performance.’