Nashville SC took a tough result in First Tennessee Park Wednesday evening. Hear from head coach Gary Smith on the game’s controversial moment, and goal-scorer Ken Tribbett – or read the comments in their entirety.
Head coach Gary Smith
“I’ve not even looked at these statistics. My eyes normally give me a good view and a good appreciation of what went on. We started the game very brightly with great intent, and rightly went a goal up. Beyond that, I felt that the New York group started to just take a little bit of a grip on the game, and for a good 15-20 minutes, they were the better team leading into the break – and were able to convert some pressure into a very valuable goal just before halftime. And it really changes the perspective: we’ve had it go our way before, scoring just before the break, and when you’re on the receiving end, there’s a different mentality, there’s a different feeling. You’ve worked hard, and it’s not quite gone your way.
“The second period, there was always a thought in my mind that we’d go 4-4-2. I did feel as though Daniel was a bit isolated. Probably the biggest disappointment of the game was not being able to take advantage of the changes that were made before Forrest was ejected. And at that point, you know, the game changes. We needed to navigate five or six minutes and were unable to, and in the end, that cost us. In a big game, you really need not just your big players to turn up and get the job done and be effective, you also need a little bit of fortune. You need officials that can get their job done right, that can make clear and concise decisions, and in the end, I do feel as though maybe that was a pivotal moment in the game.”
How were you able to get off to a strong start?
“I thought the mentality was spot-on. It was very aggressive, we tried to get into the swing and into proceedings quickly, and really deny them the opportunity of playing in our half of the field. We did it to a great degree. The set pieces, the corners that we had finally told. I do think there were better opportunities to be had. Our set pieces, even though we scored a goal, were still not up to the standard that we’re capable of. I’m not just talking about the early ones: I’m talking about late on, we had two set pieces that were just so simply-cleared when we should have asked a question. We have a good group, we have a physical group, and we are better than that. Nevertheless, that’s me looking at the glass half empty. It was a terrific goal, and it really capped off a very, very good start.
“The difficulties that we encountered there on out were I think a combination of feeling better about ourselves, about the start – it’s an internal mechanism that goes off, there’s no way you can get players up the field when they’ve decided that they might just, ‘Ok, we’ll protect a little bit more’ – it’s a mental attitude that shifts in the game. The New York group took more chances, we took less chances to try and protect that, and in the course of time, they found themselves far more territorially aggressive, and we were unable, at the moments of interception – through some very good defending by the way, for the most part – we were unable to really ask some questions going the other way. And it was
vital at that point that Kharlton, Alan, Daniel, Lebo [Moloto] – even the fullbacks were gonna get higher up the field – to really stress to them, ‘listen, you’re gonna throw caution to the wind, but we might [need to] take advantage of this. You don’t do that, and players
keep pushing, keep pushing, and in the end, the dam broke.”
What did you see on Red Bulls II’s opening goal?
“I thought that their fullbacks, and we knew that their fullbacks were very, very aggressive. Maybe for a little bit of fatigue, a little lack of focus going towards the end of the half, it’s when players are notoriously at one of their lowest physical points, [Kyle] Duncan got himself in a good position on the wrong side of Kharlton, and with one touch – and an aggressive touch – the ball that he played wasn’t around the back line with a back four that was recovering, it was shallow cross that really missed everybody that ended up in that defensive group. With the pace that he played it at, it was just a matter of the guy at the far post directing it on goal. It was almost a carbon copy of the goal that we conceded against them in the first game. But they do a fabulous job at asking those questions. They keep probing, they throw a lot of energy, they take chances, and tonight that’s been good for them.
“I think maybe they were helped a little bit, but listen I’m not going to be sour about defeat. I thought they were better than us for a good period of the game. I felt as though we deserved the opportunity with Forrest staying on the field to see if we could – at that point I went 4-4-2, and it would have been a really important moment – I felt as though we needed to change the dynamic of the game. And I would love to have seen how that had been born out. But sadly, I didn’t.”
Does the way this game finished make it more or less difficult to motivate the players for the Charleston game Saturday?
“I think any defeat is disappointing. We’ve been on a really good run: conceded one goal, scored 13. Everyone came into the game with great confidence. You could see how the game started. To score and then lose the game in the circumstances that we did, of course it’ll have an effect on the players. It has an effect on all players, but I do think given the way that some of the scores are going – I know Tampa got beat in Carolina – it really condenses that top six or seven. And I would anticipate that there are going to be some results that we all look at, maybe like this one, and say ‘wow I wasn’t expecting that.’ The challenge for us is to make sure that we’re not on the receiving end of that, or people are not talking about us too often, instead of in the right way.
“So the biggest challenge come the weekend is gonna be recovery, get the mindset on track, being focused again, being ready for a very challenging Charleston side. They’re a good team, they’re very different to this group we just played. But make no mistake, they’ll come here and they’ve got their own fight on their hands and it will be one of the toughest games of the season, I suspect.”
Do you feel the missed opportunity to move to the top of the table?
“I think so. Of course: it’s only human nature. The players themselves, all of the staff came here with great expectations of taking advantage, good run, a New York side away from home. We’d shown a real cutting edge against them in the game that was called off. And when you look back, it’s strange really how fate and circumstances play out, it really is. We came from a goal down ourselves in that game and went in 2-1 up, and the elements were against us.
“Tonight, it was one person and not the elements. Sometimes there’s not a lot you can do about that. I say that tongue-in-cheek. They’re a good side, and I’m very respectful – so are we all – of what they achieve. They play a very difficult style; I’ve never had an easy game against them, be it at this level or at MLS level – albeit that when I was in MLS they were a very different outfit. This group at this level, John [Wolyniec]’s doing a wonderful job with them. They have some terrific players, they’re very, very driven: very driven.”
Did you receive an explanation from the match officials for the second yellow card on Forrest Lasso?
“No, and I didn’t look at the scoreboard. I didn’t see the replay actually. Everyone tells me that it was very harsh. I’ll pick my words very carefully here: I think we’ve seen a naïve decision. I’m not saying it wasn’t a foul, I’m not saying it wasn’t obstruction, but there’s a very big difference between giving somebody a second yellow card and ejecting him from the game. Was there real malice? Was there an edge to what he did? Like I said, I haven’t seen it, so I’m not going to get too deep into that. But it strikes me as a maybe a little bit of a naïve decision. And it affected the game, no two ways about it.”
Midfielder Ken Tribbett
What did you see on your goal early in the game?
“We had about five corners I think early in the game. We started really bright. Lebo had a great ball – out swinger – and I was able to beat my defender. I guess I didn’t really have a defender. They were more of a zone. We should have taken more advantage, I think, of the corners, but we were happy to get one early. We started bright.”
How were you able to control the game early in the match?
“The game plan initially went to perfection. We were on top of them for 20 minutes, five corners. We had our chances. We were all over them. We scored our goal, and then I think we just took our foot off the gas, and they took advantage of it.”
What did they do to seize control?
“I just think after we scored, our mindset just kind of, ‘OK, we got our goal. Now we can
kind of sit in and defend a little bit,’ where before we were pushing. So I think we could have maybe done a little bit better there, but I think we’ve just gotta make it to halftime without conceding. Then we’re feeling better going into halftime.”
What did you see on NYRBII’s first goal?
“Just one of those where they got in behind and whipped in a good ball, and it just kind of fell right to their guy.”
What did New York do differently from your previous matchups with them?
“They play the same every single time, whether it’s the MLS team or the second team. They’re a high press, they come at you, they put energy, they throw numbers forward. So we knew what they were going to do. Initially we were able to stop it, but over time, they just broke it down.”
Have you kept your centerback skills sharp, since you might need them with Lasso unavailable Saturday?
“We will see. I’ll do whatever I need to do for the team.”