Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith and defender Justin Davis met with the media today. Watch or read what they had to say here.
“I think you like to get some fluency in your play, a bit of rhythm. It’s very early in the season, so there’s plenty still that the group can be working on structurally, which we’ve taken advantage of in this last two weeks – or as you said, probably 10 days, but by the time we play again it’ll be two weeks. We honestly haven’t had an opportunity to get into a rhythm as-yet, so I don’t think it’s been that disruptive. I’m sure Ottawa will be feeling just as disappointed – they’ve had two weekends without a game – so it can cause some difficulties, but I think at this moment, we’re good with the work that we’re getting through. There was stuff that I wanted to try and offer up to the players, and it’s given us an opportunity really to focus in on that.”
What is the team focused on this week?
“When I looked at the first few games: the first two at home gave us, I think, an opportunity to possess the ball, to be in control, to look at some of the qualities we have in maintaining the ball and working other teams over. But it lacked some cutting edge, it lacked- certainly in the the second game against Saint Louis – it lacked goal-scoring moments. A big focus in the last 10 days has been, how do we make that slight re-adjustment without affecting to much? The main bodies of work: what do we look like when we haven’t got the ball? I’ve been quit pleased, and I think the players have, too. What do we look like when we’re in possession? It’s been very decent. What do we look like when we’re trying to create? And that’s been the area that we really needed most attention. So whilst we’ve reinforced some of the other areas in the last 10 days – we haven’t gone away from it – we’ve tried to layer in a little bit more of a positive feel about our play, and give us more of an opportunity to score.”
11v11 scrimmage last Friday
“I think as much for that [structural work] as it was for one or two players that haven’t seen a lot of playing time. You forget that preseason was a month gone by. And before you know it, players that have had some good work, some good minutes, have not seen any productive playing time for a month. I think it was just as important for the competitive edge. It’s also, you can get plenty of work done structurally, phase work, in some of the practice sessions that we have. But nothing beats a game. You see fatigue in players – what are their reactions? What are their decisions? – technically, working under fatigue: do you lose a little bit of focus, do your techniques let you down a little bit more? And all of those things, I think are always good to be reminded of. The one thing I did want was to control it myself. So therefore we played against each other, rather than another team, so that I can be out in the middle, and I can be talking as much as a training session as it was a competitive game, of course.”
Playing on FieldTurf this weekend
“I don’t think any coach or player, for that matter, os a fan of turf. It’s unnatural. Depending on the quality of the turf, you get an unnatural bounce, or you get unnatural movement of the ball: it can do some strange things. I think certainly for teams that are playing on it regularly, has an unnecessary impact on the body, and where it’s hit. However, there’s a lot of teams at our level that have turf, so we have to be adaptable. We’ve just come away from the New York Red Bull game, where we ran into a very similar situation. It makes the game a bit quicker, and like I said, it can do some strange things to the ball on the turf field. I think just getting in the habit of, rather than playing into areas, playing into feet. Rather than trying to overplay too much, where the ball does a couple of strange things, being a little more progressive with our work. But ultimately, just seeing what the ball does, and how different it is.”
“I think it’s just joints in general: your hips, your knees, your ankles. You’re on a harder surface. I think there are some stats and some facts out there that tell us it does offer far more impact on the body than normal grass does.”
What is Vinnie Vermeer’s status in recovering from injury?
“Vinnie’s got an ankle injury. We’re hopeful that we might see him in the next couple of weeks, but it’ll certainly be two weeks, minimum. It could certainly be a bit longer than that. The injury’s reacting well; the swelling’s gone down, but with any ligament injury, you’re subject to not just treatment on it, but obviously the ligament’s healing, and strengthening that area again before he gets fit and sharp. There’s a process involved when you have that type of damage. Fingers crossed, it’ll be a short window rather than a long-term layoff.”
“I’ve watched both of their games, and it’s always difficult early on to try and work out what teams are doing until they get into a little bit of a rhythm and a flow. Their coach is well-organized, he’s got, I think, an experienced group in the main there. I remember going up there last year, and they’ve got quite a number of those bodies still around the group. It was a tough task: they played their field well, they managed the game very well, and in most cases, they’ll want you to come and try and beat them. However, they certainly have players – as we found out last year – that are capable of being effective and bright in the attacking half of the field. There’s an awful lot to consider about the group, and they’ll be confident: they’ve not lost a game (they’ve only had two), they’ll certainly be looking to open up their season at home in a positive fashion. We’ve got a lot to contend with. We’ve got a tough run: five out of six games away from home at any point in time is always tough, and I don’t think they come a lot more difficult than we’re going to find this weekend. It’s a tough journey, they’re an experienced group, and they’re well organized. They will take advantage of us if we’re not on form.”
“I think it was a different game than kind of what we’re used to: a lot of in-behind, kind of a bang-bang game, so it wasn’t ideal to go into that. When you look at it, it’s a 1-1 tie on the road to a good opponent who’s probably going to be in the mix in the playoffs when the season goes down, so when you look at it like that, I think it’s a decent result.”
Off week focus
“Nice to have a little week break here, but I think still figuring out relationships with guys in there. Obviously, we’ve had some different looks on the lineup every week, so figuring out those partnerships and how we put out best foot forward, and that’s kind of what we’ve been working on. Obviously defensively, and then attacking ideas is something we always work on.”
“Yeah, I mean, injuries are always going to be a part of it. I think Vinnie took a knock, so he might be out for a little bit, but I think that just shows the quality we have there. Gary’s more than comfortable with switching up the lineups, and it gives a little bit of a different picture, different looks, to different opponents that we’ll play. A lot of creativity on his side with that, and as a player, if your number’s called, you’ve gotta perform, and if not, there’s someone behind you, ready to take your spot.”
Is it different to come off the bench?
“A little bit yeah. It’s a little bit of an unfamiliar role for myself with the way outside backs operate. I felt good with that first game coming in, giving a good 20-, 25-minute shift, and then giving my first 90 last week, I felt good.”
“They’ll always be a really tough opponent, especially when they’re playing at home. It’s a big field, I believe it’s their home opener, so they’ll be buzzing and flying around trying to make a statement. Again, it’s a team that’s gonna be right on that playoff line throughout the year, so we’re gonna have to be on our front foot there and get a result.”
Will they be a more difficult defense to break down?
“That goes to what we’re working on here. Ideally, we want to be a team that has a lot of possession, and coming up with ideas to break them down. I think maybe at home in their opener, they might be pushing forward a little bit more. So that could leave them exposed at the back, so we can take advantage of that.”
Bye weeks for coaches, games for players
“We had the weekend off, so that was nice to kind of get away. We’ve been going since the last week of January without a break. It’s nice to recharge the batteries a little bit, but you’re still wanting to keep that focus. We’re only three games in, so we’ve got a long way to go in the season. We’ve just gotta keep going. Gary loves practice, so it’s been getting after it a little bit. It’s good.”
“It stopped raining. I think it’s gonna be 80 this weekend, then it’ll probably drop down to 30. It’s a gorgeous day out here today, so we’re happy about it. I think – speaking of Ottawa – I think they’ve been indoors probably this whole preseason. It’s a nice advantage for us to be outside. We’ve got a nice grass field to take it easy on our bodies a little bit.”