Head coach Gary Smith, midfielder Koze Donasiyano, and defender Dave Romney met with the media after Nashville SC’s 2-0 loss to New York Red Bulls. Watch or read their full comments here.
Apologies if some of the Smith stuff has more typos than usual. It will shock you to learn that a New Jersey train station well after midnight is not the optimal transcribing scenario!
Head coach Gary Smith
“It pretty much took the sort of shape and picture that I expected coming here. I’ve run into this type of Red Bull team on numerous occasions, and they go about their business in a specific way. They took their moments very well that they were presented with. I think the story of the game for us was: first goal changed the dynamic of the way things were going. We felt pretty comfortable up until that first goal.
We need to certainly be better with the ball, more effective going forward in the slight change to shape. But with some bodies out, omissions – we’re struggling with certain individuals physically leading into this game. It was always going to be difficult to maybe create the same dynamic that we have on a couple of occasions. However, I thought the second half started a lot brighter. Sadly, we’ve every first attack? and maybe after one of our first more-clear chances with LaGrassa who skied over the bar, they go down the other end and extend their lead.
Tip our hate to them. Nobody wants to lose, but on the night they were certainly better than us with the ball, and took full advantage of the moments.
Giving Koze his debut & performance. Walker sub?
“Walker’s one – he came back from his international duty up in Salt Lake against Costa Rica with a little bit of a difficulty in his lower abdominal, and Io was really trying to protect him more than anything. He got through an hour of football, and at that point, I felt we needed to chase the game a little bit more, and it may put him under some undue pressure knowing that we’ve got some very big games coming up. So I hope I caught that early enough.
As far as Koze is concerned, he’s been absolutely terrific in the work in training. Deserved this opportunity,.. Unfortunately for Koze, not an easy game to come into. A bit of a baptism of fire. I would have liked to have maybe introduced him into a game that might have helped navigate his experiences a little bit easier. I thought he did and performed in a sterling way. Not an easy environment to make your debut. But he’s a very very genuine kid, and he’s got a bright future.”
Did you think the performance up top was subpar?
“There’s a numberof things going into tonight’s game, Drake, that a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to appreciate. Players like CJ – who’s had one training session since Atlanta because of an injury to his foot – I thought his efforts were magnificent, given the lack of work that he’s had.
The layoff can cosometimes create a difficulty in the momentum that you’ve crewated, just the shape and the connections within the group. Three weeks is a long time off. We see it so many times in our game, where a team leaves the field having played particularly well for the first period, and comes back out just not the same team, and you wonder why, and with a three-week lapse, it is possible that there were too many players, unfortunately for us, in those transitional moments for us that – to your point, Drake – were not clean, were not as concise. We certainly didn’t look enough of a threat going beyond. Randall’s exploits with his country have taken an awful lot out of him. He looked particularly flat this evening. And omissions like Aníbal are big losses for us – it’d be a big loss for any team.
So look, I know we’re going to work through that. But to your point, yes, of course there were some areas of our game that we certainly should have been better. I did however think that in terms of a group, and a style to slow them down – because they play a very, very uick game: they want to make things happen uickly, they want to get players in-behind, and for 35, 36 minutes until the goal went in, I thought we looked great, not a problem.
The one thing on my mind going into the break as we entered into that final 10 minutes was “ok, how are we going to get more traction going forward?’ Maybe a couple of changes, get some fresher legs in there, and they scored. It’s disappointing, but as I’ve said, they took advantage of few moments and few sights of goal, and credit to Red Bull.”
Do you feel like the midfield and forwards can’t link up without Godoy? How do you handle losing him for the Gold Cup?
“Yeah, I’m not sure your assessment’s a particularly clear one, for the way that we’ve played 0- and certainly at home. Away games are very different, and they’re very different against teams like New York, teams that want to press and want to make things happen quickly on the front foot. They force you to be a little bit more direct. I’ve watched multiple games here where teams have tried to play through them, and they’ve made mistakes. Orlando being one of them in the last game, and New York took advantage of it.
So you know, having a gameplan, being able to navigate some of the things that we knew they were going to throw at us – but ultimately, effective ourselves. And I do think there’ll be a number of players that will get home tonight, and if they’re truly honest with themselves, they were below par. They weren’t good enough going forward, we weren’t good enough on the ball, and that’s what happens. You put much more reliance on your defending. In fairness, to a large degree we did it well again. But even in those moments of opportunity, we didn’t have anyone in our group that was capable of stepping up and giving us a lifeline. When you’re a goal and two goals down, as we’ve seen in previous games, somebody’s got to step up and get us back into the game.
But maybe this was one game too many where we’ve been asked to recover two goals: you just can’t do it all the time. I certainly believe, through the adversity of a defeat, it gives everyone – or should give everyone – little bit of a reality check. Yes, we’ve been on a decent run. We’ve been unbeaten. But even again with our own standards, we’ll certainly believe that we should’ve added a couple more points to the board. And now we come into a very long home stretch of games and we have to take advantage of those games. Today will be a reminder that the next games will be pivotal for us.”
What did you see on the foul on CJ that led to Hany’s free kick, and then on the kick itself?
“Listen, moments were few and far between, that was for sure. Randall had the best opportunity in open play. At two-nil, the goalkeeper makes a decent save. Big moment.
My opinion on the CJ one – and I’ve have to see it again, I haven’t seen a replay so maybe I’m speaking a little bit out of turn, but – the player impedes him as he takes his touch, and then fouls him and brings him down. So the touch is affected by the player that’s closest to him. Now if I’m wrong on that, I’ll hold my hand up. But that was the way I saw it. The referee’s decision was that his touch had taken him wide. I guess VAR felt the same thing. But my opinion was that the defender had affected that touch, so therefore, the player should have gone off. However, as I’ve said, I’m open to looking back on that and changing my mind, of course.
“And Hany’s was a terrific effort. You know, you’re talking about an inch either way. He practices those many, many times a week. We were very hopeful he might have got us back in the game. But it’s a great effort – yes of course I’ve thought it might have gone in – but it wasn’t to be.
Midfielder Irakoze Donasiyano
“It was a great moment. Tough loss, tough game, but it’s always a good feeling to make your debut. It just sucks that we didn’t get the win today.”
What was the feeling of finally seeing your number on that substitution board and seeing the field?
“You know, my heart was racing really fast, you know, because it was in front of a lot of fans. I’ve never played in front of so many fans. Other than that, it was a great feeling: it was a great feeling coming on, and trying to do my best and help the team.”
What was Gary Smith’s message before you entered the match?
“He told me to go out there, have fun, relax, and play your game. Do you, have fun.”
Did it feel like, regardless of your team’s effort, it was just one of those ones that you step into and ultimately realize it was almost unwinnable because of the circumstances?
“The world of football, you never know. Anything can happen. The ball bounces – and you never know. One person can make the difference, or one person can’t make the difference, you know? It’s the whole team collectively. So I’m not sure.”
What was the experience playing next to Dax McCarty?
“Playing with Dax is such an honor. He’s a senior player: very smart, very talented. Playing with him was amazing: he was guiding me, telling me what to do. It was a big thing and a great opportunity to get to play with him in a road game.”
What is the mindset entering the match with a two-goal deficit?
“You know, my mindset was to just be brave and play my game, and just – as a midfielder in that role – try to prevent them from scoring more goals, and try to push the ball forward to get some results, at least.”
Defender Dave Romney
How did it feel to get your 100th MLS start?
“Honestly, I didn’t know until just now. So, yeah, it’s obviously a good feeling to start getting minutes in the league, and then being in the league a certain amount of time is something that I never really thought possible: getting 100 starts and playing in this league for what is my seventh season now, it’s definitely a good feeling. I just want to keep playing, get as many games as I can, and hopefully get us on a nice playoff run.”
What did you see on the opening goal for the Red Bulls?
“Just typical Red Bull fashion: they wanted to create chaos, just get the ball into dangerous play-areas, just get the ball, and make things happen.
“The initial ball got flicked on, and it kind of got flicked on to their other forward. Surprisingly, the ball checked up. I think both Walker and the forward were kind of playing as if it was going to skip. The ball was skipping, and the field was wet the whole time. The ball checked up, for some reason – like the field was dry. So the ball went kind of short, and then he flicked it on, and the guy had an amazing finish.
It’s unfortunate, but some goals you just have to take your hat off and just say that was a nice finish. We obviously could have done better as a team. I could probably have been shifted over more, guys could have won their battles, but at the end of the day, it was a half-chance that the guys makes an amazing finish on. Joe couldn’t do anything.
“I personally haven’t seen the play again, so I really can’t get a full analysis on it, I just kind of remember what I saw the first time and what happened, and yeah – I wish I had seen the play already again and I haven’t. So maybe I would have judged it differently had I seen it again, seen a couple replays. From what I saw on the field, that’s what I think, but I could be completely wrong if I watch it again.”
What is the challenge of a centerback partner changing during the game? Does it impact the way you have to play?
“No, not really. I mean, it obviously doesn’t help when you lose the defensive player of the year last year, but Jalil steps in, he’s always a good player, he’s a league veteran. So it’s never something that I have to worry about.
“I thin kWalker was coming in with an injury – nothing too bad, but we have a busy week coming up. We have a game on Wednesday and Saturday, so I think he was just kind of analyzing the situation. Seeing, let’s get him healthy and ready for these two games coming up at home, which are very, very important, so I think it was kind of playing it safe there.
“Any time Jalil comes in, I’m not worried at all. He’s a league veteran, he knows what he’s doing, so it’s not anything I have to change with my game.”