Video and transcript: Gary Smith and Lebo Moloto pre-Swope Park Rangers

Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith and midfielder Lebo Moloto met with For Club and Country prior to tomorrow evening’s game against Swope Park Rangers. Watch and read what they had to say here.

Head coach Gary Smith

Further takeaways from Tampa?

“I don’t think a defeat gets any better. I think it gives us an opportunity to think about some of the the things that went on in the game. Certainly, from every performance you need to be learning and developing the group. There’s certainly things that, when specific circumstances arise, we’ve not quite got the right answers for it at the moment. One of the biggest things for me and I think for the groups is – we’re all the same here, we’re all one – is when we concede a goal, is getting ourselves back in positive territory and then going on to win a game. At some point, I think we all have to prove there’s that in the group.”

Were there lessons to be learned from film?

“Again, I think there’s things that can come out of it, that we need to be a little bit more mindful of at home. I do honestly think that the group out there had been in good form, we’d seen some excellent play, we even have the right personnel to adapt that shape and be more aggressive. I just think on the night, for whatever reason – and sometimes with players, you find that they’re a tad subdued, not as sprightly, as intense as we needed to be. I don’t just mean in terms of the amount of ground that people are covering, because there’s never ever been a question mark over the determination or workload of this group – and I doubt there ever will be. But there are moments where you need to have a change of pace. There’s got to be an infusion of intensity attacking and defensively. When you think about it, we’ve been done on a dead ball again. Other than that, we may well have looked at it and gone, ‘OK, we’ve had a couple of decent sights of goal – not many – so we’d have been concerned about the lack of opportunity, but against a Tampa side that look like they’re going to be a very difficult side to play against – Neill’s got them extremely well-organized, and they’ve got a nice format about them, they play well to their strengths – so I wasn’t ever expecting many efforts at goal or clear sights of goal. We’re looking back at a very similar scenario to the Saint Louis game. So we certainly have to be – we have to take that on board and be more mindful of how the game unfolds.”

Swope Park

“They’ve had a lot of players move in and out of that group. As with a lot of the “2 Teams,” you tend to see a lot of turnover of the players. I think we’re running into a group that are affected maybe by the first team a little bit. They’ve got a lot of injuries at the top end, and I think that’s dragged certain players out of that group. Honestly, I haven’t a clue what players will play in the game. Again what we know is, they’re a very similar setup, and they’re looking at the developmental told for the Sporting group. they’ll be some very efficient technicians, there’ll be a lot of energy, there’ll be a fearless approach, which there always is with these younger groups. But it’s for to take advantage of that, because what they do lack is a bit of experience.”

Familiarity with Swope

“I think it helps a little bit, but on any given day, an individual can set the game alight and be the difference. I don’t think there’s any way of telling who that might be or when that might be. It certainly helps with structure, and maybe philosophy, but when you don’t know who’s playing, that’s all you’ve got to work on. I’ve got to be perfectly honest: there’s always a certain amount of respect for the teams that hare coming in. I think you have to – when you’ve got talented young players who are capable of doing something very different – this game, really has to be about how we attack it, how we respond, an improvement in certain areas of the field. And by that, I mean certainly in the attacking areas of the field. We need an upgrade on opportunities, and a forceful nature about our approach to the game. That’s got nothing to do with Swope; that’s all about us.”

New signing Derrick Jones

“I think think the statement that went out from me as part of that said that Derrick’s an incredibly talented young player. So a big part of it is that we’ll have an opportunity here to be arround Derrick for a good period of time. In terms of characteristics, I think he’s quite a unique player”: at 6-3, 6-4, he’s a big frame, but I think that takes away a bit of focus on some of his other very good qualities: he’s a good technician, he’s actually very efficient on the ball and running with the ball. I’m not talking about taking players on, but driving at defenders or through breaking lines in possession, and he also has a terrific athletic capacity. If you look at what the modern game’s about in the midfield area, it’s a really competitive world. He really does tick all the boxes. The things that I’ve seen in Derrick – and I haven’t been around him enough, of course, I’ve watche a lot of him – I would say that experience in that world, in that centrla midfield world, is also a vital commodity to keep making adjustments, and to bne improving as a player. By experience, I mean: when am I going to drive and break lines? When do I just keep the ball? When dsoes my appreciation and athleticism of getting beyond my opponent or into the attacking third. All those things are more about choices than about your physical capacity. The very best players make good choices more often than not. He’s still a very young player, he’s still learning, he’s still developing. There’s so much to be excited about in this young player.”

Timeline for his first appearance

“Derrick comes into town on Sunday. My hope is that we can get him acclimated as quickly as we can, so he should be out on the field Monday. But as with a lot of players, you find there’s a relocation process, and given that Derrick’s a long-term plan for the club, I’d love to have him involved as quickly as possible, but if it takes a short window of time to just get him settled in and feeling comfortable in his surroundings, then so be it.”

Depth and rotation with fixture congestion

“You’ve seen already there’ve been a sprinkling of rotated players, and I may have said before I hope – it started on Wednesday – I hope the fruits of players being sharp, engaged, focused, they’ve been in and around the group. They might not have been regularly in the group, but they’ve been playing, so they haven’t lost a lot of match fitness. I hope this is the time at which we see the benefits of that, and we’re constantly bringing in results. Because that’s the only reason you rotate players: to find results, to win games, and to keep a confident feel about everyone. The best team to win the game will go out tomorrow, as always, but that certainly has to have a thought attached to it with regards to energy, sharpness, and the health of the players.”

Midfielder Lebo Moloto

Memories of his time with Swope

“Obviously, going to the finals of the USL Cup 2017. Just the winning mentality, that winning attitude, the fun, the good times. But Kansas City, the city in general, I actually don’t remember much, but I had a good time there.”

Takeaways from having played there

“I think a little bit has changed, but obviously they still have the same philosophy, which is try to keep the ball, try to possess the ball, serve the ball. So I think personally with that, when you keep the ball too much, there’s also chances of us being able to exploit those mistakes from them, or overplaying from them and getting a few chances. Because they’re actually a little bit vulnerable.”

Returning to the field

“I personally think everyone’s got a role to play. We don’t only have 11 players. Irrespective of who starts, who doesn’t, we have 22 or 23 on the roster, so personally I think you’ve jugot to be ready. When you’ve been called upon, just be ready.”

What are you looking forward to against Swope?

“Just an opportunity to, obviously, play in front of Clay. Just kidding. Those Saturday nights, they’re not the same as the Wednesday nights. I actually like Saturday night games better than Wednesdays, but just the fans, obviously getting back to that winning mentality, winning attitude. Hoping for three points tomorrow.”

Turning around after a 1-2-1 stretch

“I think we have a good group of guys. We have a good team. We have good players, so I think – we lost on Wednesday, but the league is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. Just because we lose this game doesn’t mean you might not end up finishing out the league on top of the lot. I think it’s just a matter of getting the momentum back in and keep going.”

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