After a couple of days to review Saturday’s game, do you have anything else that you saw, good or bad, about DC United’s performance?
‘As I said, we addressed at half-time that we were stretched too much, and there was too much space for DeRosario, and Landon, and the guys in the midfield. So we addressed this issue at half-time, and then they did a great job. Then there were the chances we missed from the beginning. We started to play better, play faster, close them down, and from those positives we need to get a win this game (against LA). We need to get a little bit better than that. There is still a lot of work to improve the team. I think we played fairly well, and three points are three points. You can’t complain. And maybe it’s better to win 2-1 than 5-0 or 4-1.’
Some fans are asking about why Rimando, coming off an injury, started over Warren as GK?
‘We felt that way. I told you and all my players that it’s not an easy decision to fill the eleven spots. Everyone wants to play, that I understand. But, it cannot be today is that, and tomorrow is like that. We make these decisions. This is the team and everyone is important. It’s not like, ‘Why did he play, and he didn’t play?’ It’s just that we felt this way. It’s all about winning and all about the team. It’s not about single individuals that feel, ‘I was suppose to play. Why didn’t I play?’ So, like I said, this was our decision and the rest can take care of itself.’
Over the last year a debate on where Bobby Convey should play has been going on between the fans. Have you talked to Bobby about his play on the wing and convince him that this is his natural position?
‘For players that is a natural process. The players always find a way to feel comfortable with their position which they will play for their whole life.’
‘I don’t want you guys to think of it as a dresser (with drawers). You don’t want to put them into ‘left midfield’, ‘left back’, or ‘right midfielder’. The game is so fast and the players rotate, move, and shift, with all this stuff, you cannot say, ‘This guy is the left-back. Why did he end up playing on the right wing?’ It doesn’t go that way! If we start to put the players into the dresser and say, ‘Why didn’t he play in the middle? He’s an attacking left midfielder!’ It doesn’t really matter. With all the shifting and moving Bobby Convey might play 20 minutes on the right wing. So, as I said, for the players it’s a natural process. When they’re shifting and rotating they’re going to find the best spots for themselves.’
‘Last game, when Bobby moved into the middle, Dema played out (on the wing) the first couple of minutes in the second half. We saw that Dema struggled, so we moved him back into the middle. Landon (Donovan) moved back, Dema moved back to close him down. Bobby is very good at advancing, but we needed someone who is going to win the ball. So we switched them.’
‘I just don’t want you guys to put them in the dresser. I don’t want you to say, ‘Why did he play on this side?’ It’s a natural process for the players. We still have to make it difficult for the other team, but we still have to stay compact and composed. We have to stay organized.’
Have you talked with Dema about his red card, and are you planning on doing anything extra as a way of punishment outside of what the league gives him?
‘The call was the call. After 4 minutes, with the advantage after Waibel was sent off, you don’t think the referee is going to make this call for this kind of action? Of course he’s going to do it because the intentions were bad. That’s the most important thing. I don’t think either card was right, but the intentions from Waibel and Dema were bad.’
‘When you start the season with this kind of play, and address it right away, then it’s easy for everyone else. I’d say of course I don’t like it. The team was playing very well at that moment. We had the advantage â€“ we kept the ball, we kept it moving, and we could have scored with our chances. I’m very disappointed that things like that happened because we’ve talked about it for 3 months. I’ve spoken with him personally about it a couple of times. I addressed the issue, and sometimes he’s like that. We’re going to work on it, for sure. We’re going to meet together after the league decides what to do with him. But, our reputation cannot afford that â€“ what people are going to say about DC United.’
When you were a player did DC United have a reputation as a dirty team?
‘No, it wasn’t a dirty team. I would say that it was always a team that was very strong at home and created a lot of action. Actually, ‘action’ means playing hard, but playing fair.’
‘We watched a couple of plays today on Ian Russell against Jaime or Bryan Namoff, and he didn’t do a good job with that. But, as I said, I’m not complaining or whining about that. Sometimes soccer is like that â€“ some tackles are bad, and some are good. From my opinion, the intentions were bad, but didn’t deserve red cards.’
In the next couple of games you have several away games â€“ LA, NY, SJ. In the past coaches intentionally played conservatively on the road. Will you play conservatively on the road, or continue to play aggressive, attacking soccer?
‘The bottom line is that I don’t care what happen in the past. I don’t give a damn about that. The important thing is that this team sticks together, and they know how to play, and they know what to do to make it better on the field. We’re going to train the whole week and be ready for the game on Saturday. We’ll start tomorrow morning to work on it. It won’t be about how we’re going to play – they already know how to play the game. Tomorrow we start on how we’re going to win this game. We’ve got to send a message to all the players and all the teams that we aren’t that bad, that the game on Saturday wasn’t luck. It was hard work, commitment, and everything else â€“ the little things. It’s not going to be an easy game, for sure. But, what do we have to lose? Nothing. Weâ€™re going to go there, we’re going to play our game, stick with our plan, and we’ll see what happens.’
You lose Dema because of the red card. However, you have several options â€“ Prideaux using a 4-4-2, Gros or Ara in a 3-5-2, Cerritos with a 3-4-3. Have you thought about how you will adjust?
(Laugh) ‘You see! I’m bringing you into the locker room tomorrow!’
I guess my point is that the bench is strong and gives you a lot of variety. How will you use it?
‘We’ll see. We’re going to sit down today and watch the game, LA and New England, and analyze it, and see what they did good and what they did bad. Then we’ll get our lineup and our game plan. You have to do something with it. So we’re going to get the best options from that. As you said, we’ve got a lot of options and a lot of depth on this team, it’s amazing.’
When the injured players, such as Santino Quaranta, come back they will want to get into the games right away. Some of them might not get a chance and their egos will suffer. How will you deal with that?
‘Egos? Egos they can leave at home! There’s no . . . I’ll tell you that you go too far with this egos stuff, and who is going to play. That’s why you make your roster so competitive. It’s nothing to do with egos. Either the players are good, or they are bad. If they have egos, they can go somewhere else and show their egos! It’s not going to happen on this team, and that’s for sure. The people who don’t play, who are on the bench, they have to work before they’re going to show up on the field. If they’re going to be mad, or upset, or disappointed, this is our decision, the team’s decision together! If they’re going to be disappointed, then they can look for another place.’
‘The player’s market is really soft. They don’t really have a place and money to do anything. It’s better that they stay right here, working, and have a chance to play a few minutes to prove to us, you guys, media, fans, all of them! If someone complains they don’t have any playing minutes, then they should show me in practice that you deserve to have the minutes. That is how it works!’
‘With Santino, actually he’s done great stuff in the past couple of months. He’s sticking with the team. He’s at every practice. He’s on time. He’s done a great job! Even today, he was supposed to stay in the locker room, but he came out to practice and ran. This mentality is supposed to be for everyone. This is their work. This is the profession they chose.’