“YAY, I get to talk to Tim on the phone!”
Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith and striker Daniel Ríos spoke with the media after Sunday’s 4-1 victory against Louisville City FC. Read their full comments here.
Head coach Gary Smith
“When you’ve been down in Tampa so long, every day becomes the same. After Wednesday’s game, a lot of the emphasis was based on starting the game a bit sharper, trying to – a little bit more focus and management about how we navigate that first 10 minutes as more of a process than anything else, and we’ve just actually started doing some work on some pressing, as well. As this preseason unfolds, I think I’ve said before, we’re trying to get through four of the main topics, two defending two attacking, or with the ball – and the pressing I felt came out today. There were some really bright moments in the first period, it got us on the front foot. We started the game very well Randall’s goal gets us off on a very positive footing, and quickly followed by Daniel’s goal. I thought at that point, there was a lot of control, if not necessarily with the ball, but the way that we were playing and dictating the game. They’re a very good side, similar position to us in preseason.I thought that they got back into the game a little bit. They started to work out a little but if the pressure that was coming their way. Nevertheless, there was still trivet qualities out of that group. It wasn’t until Adrian trod on the ball that there was really any real concern. I thought that gave them a bit of a lift, and to see the first half out in front was a positive note. The second group, again, I thought the pitch was very, very similar – just very very pleased in the end that both groups have done their job very well, and we take another nice step forward.”
Were Hany Mukhtar, Joe Willis, and others just resting?
“Just rested. I thought it was a good opportunity to rotate the goalkeepers. Been please with all of the lads with the way that they’ve worked and performed in goal. Joe’s been a very steady and strong influence in and around the training ground already. No issues. Hany’s been a bit sore. It was always going to be a decision whether he played Wednesday or today, and of course he played Wednesday for 45, so he’s in good shape, just feeling some soreness around his body. Dominique Badji’s just got a slightly puffy ankle, and it was more a precaution than anything.”
End product from Ríos
“I thought he fit it in very nicely into what we could class as the first group at this point. Some changes in there: Derrick playing underneath him instead of Hany. If you look at the forwards we have, I do honestly think that they’ve all got different qualities, but good qualities. Daniel’s interaction, link play, and movement in the first period. You’ve got Abu’s pace and sharpness that we saw in the second period. Probably the only person we haven’t seen up there as much as them has been Dominique, but Dominique’s very versatile, played a lot of his football up there. Dominique’s a very powerful lad, and a cross between the two really. It was nice to see Daniel as part of that starting group. Very pleased with his goal, there were some bright and nice moments for him. I just felt all-in-all, everyone suffered a little bit from the pace of the game. The ground was very firm, the wind picked up a little bit, and it made it a very quick game. Both teams put a lot of energy into it, and I just felt there was once or twice the ball was just squandered unnecessarily. I think both teams will look at it in the same way that, at this stage, certainly for us, there’s some nice things coming out of it.”
How was each of the four goals scored?
“The first goal was very early on in the game – I think it was like three minutes in when I looked at my clock. There was some nice pressure down the left-hand side, it’s come out of, I thought, a bright start. There was a lot of energy in our game. Randall did ever-so-well: just linked up, came inside, and then as he can and has done on numerous occasions already, he just creates a yard or two of space so quickly, and I thought his finish was very accurate into almost coming back across himself in the bottom-lewft corner as we looked at it.
“Slightly different second goal. Alan Winn did a wonderful job down the right-hand side and beat the fullback. I think worked it in to Daniel sort of in and around the six-yard box. I can’t remember if he had a shot at goal, and it sort of ricocheted back to him. He then worked to a new angle and pivoted ever-so-well, on a slight angle from the goal and crushed it back across the goalkeeper.”
“We broke very, very brightly, and Alistair actually did a really good job, got beyond their back line. I’ve got to be honest: the centerback pulled him, and if the referee had blown up then, he surely must have sent the lad off. He let the play go on, which gave the central defender a chance to recover. I thought he impeded Alistair inside the box – it was very tight, but in the end I think the referee may have thought he got the first bit wrong, and he gave the penalty, which David Accam slotted away nicelty.”
“The last goal was Abu. Again, the game had opened up at that point, found himself in a very nice position as we started to sort of work an angle on the right-hand side of the penalty area. He actually had a lot of time, but he took it very early and hit it with a lot of power across the goalkeeper, and it looked like it hit the inside of the post and rebounded into the far corner..”
“Some very, very nice moments. More importantly from where I was sitting, we were able to implement one or two of the things that we’ve been looking at: bright to start, more positive pressing from the front, certainly maintain that proactive edge, that positive edge, and a lot of hard work in there as well. I thought it was an extremely competitive game for an hour, and I thin kboth side have thought they got plenty out of it.”
With the depth you have, will players like Jack Maher or Alan Winn be able to make an impact?
“If you look at it at the moment, Jalil and Dave Romney have got the most experience at MLS level. That certainly doesn’t mean that they just have to get their kit and do their boots up and they’re in the side. We’ve got guys like Kenny Tribbett, and of course Jack that are really sort of snapping at their heels. Jack is slightly different – he’s coming out of college. I think he’s done a fabulous job of finding the pace of the game, competing at this level immediately. He’s got plenty of talent as a defender, and he’s got a very bright future. Miguel, he’s different again: I’m still trying to ease him into as much playing time as I can. He’s not done an awful lot of work because of how the end of his season finished up. We’ve got plenty of work to do behind the scenes with Miguel. As you can see, he’s a tremendous athlete; he’ll have to adapt to playing in a new country and he’s going to have to adapt to having new teammates around him.b Honestly at the moment, there’s some good competition, those guys are doing a fabulous job, and game-on-game and day-on-day I’m seeing more and more things that are pleasing with regards to relationships.”
Striker Daniel Ríos
How did you feel confidence-wise?
“I feel good right now. My confidence has been always good. Just working on myself, and get as fast as I can to the rhythm of the game again. It was a long offseason and has been a good preseason: a lot of training, so I’ve gotten adapted.”
How did your goal come about?
“It was a great play: we start from one side to the other side. We switched play, then Alan took the one-v-one. I was waiting for the cross, then he crossed it. I took a touch, then the finish was good, crossing the ball to the goalpost.”
What’s your focus for improvement individually before the season?
“I think that the most important part right now is to know each other, to adapt as a team. Because we’re a new team, we need to as I said, know each other the way every single player plays, where he moves, the way he wants the ball: all of those details that we need to know as fast as possible.”
Transitioning USL to MLS with Gary
“It’s a good challenge for me, and for all the team. It’s good – I’ve been waiting for this for a year, obviously since last year. Now that it’s here, I will take it as my personal and obviously a team challenge to try to have the best season in that first season that we can do.”