(on the state of the team two days prior to its next game) “It was nice to first of all get on the field and play, that was the most important part. I know that’s what the players wanted, you know that’s what they were dreaming about for the last few months. It was nice to get on the field, obviously we had a really difficult opponent to start with. It became more difficult on the field to try to limit them from creating opportunities, because they are so talented, but overall happy with the team. I know they are happy that we have confidence back, it was not easy living with a 4-0 loss for the last 3-4 months. So yeah, so I think we’re back for the next game and hoping like every team to get into the next round.”
(on how he navigates coaching the team during this time) “I’m just trying to coach the team like I would always coach the team. It’s really no different, you know I still have the personal conversations. We still talk about if they have any issues off the field, we talk about that. So really, it’s not a whole lot different. I think what’s different is how together we are and it’s important for us, all the things that we do, we do together, because obviously you know we all depend on each other. We are in an environment here which we feel like at this point is safe, but still – we have to be careful and the more we are together the better it is for everybody.”
(on if the last match was disheartening due to the outcome) “I think obviously there’s no question, we’re disappointed when you have a 3-1 lead and coming out with a 3-3 tie. I think you’re always going to be disappointed. At the end of the day, you know when I think about the fact that we gave up the third goal and it was still about 20 minutes to play in the game. I thought the team did quite well and try to win the game after that. You know LAFC is one of those teams that has so many weapons. Vela obviously wasn’t there, but I think you know Bradley Wright-Phillips coming in was also a great boost for them, in particular in the first half. So, you know they have a lot of good players, they got a lot of points last year, they were the leader in the league. You know that, probably the best team in the league. So, I think overall it was a really tough task for us to match up with this team in the situation we were coming in but I feel like we overcame that hurdle. Like I said before, I was happy that we were drawn into a really difficult group. I want to see where we stand and how we have to move forward, so having said that I think our first step was really positive.”
(on what he saw in training to move Memo Rodriguez more toward the center) “Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question and that’s something that Memo and I talked about in October when I first came on. I mentioned to him that I had seen him play a lot and that I felt that he was an interior player, not a winger. So it doesn’t mean that he couldn’t play some more games out on the wing coming inside, but I do feel like his best position is being that number eight or that number 10 in the middle of the field and not wide.”
(on his relationship with Portland Timbers head coach Gio Savarese) “That’s a great question, so Gio and I are very good friends. I respect him so much in the way he is, not just as a coach, but as a person. As a player, he was always a very hard worker, he certainly earned everything he got playing soccer and I think his team reflects that. They are a hard-working team and although they have good players they all get behind the ball. They all defend, they will all work very hard and I think that’s the reflection that they have of their coach.”
(on how the defense can approach the through-ball) “First of all, I think every defense is having trouble with LAFC’s through balls. They did it all of last year, they did it all the year before that. That’s how they play, they’re able to do that because they have such great possession in the middle of the field and such great wingers who can create. So, they have a great team, in terms of how this game is going to be. It’s going to be different because Portland is not LAFC. They play different, they try to get you a little bit more on the counter. Whereas LAFC, they want to take charge of the game the whole time. So, it’ll be a completely different game. I wouldn’t take, you know, we always want to correct mistakes and we want to get better, but I wouldn’t necessarily take the through balls that we gave up against LAFC as something that’s automatically going to happen against Portland.”
(on the status of Marcelo Palomino and Adam Lundkvist) “Palomino was out, it wasn’t just before the match, Marcelo was out for the last almost three weeks. He’s back now in training. So, we’re happy to have him. He is ready to go for Saturday, obviously, he hasn’t played on a full field for a long time. So, we have to consider that, and Adam is recovering pretty well from the injury. I think he will be 100 percent for the game.”
(on giving Nico Lemoine his first MLS appearance last Monday) “I don’t look at it that way, I’m not sitting on the bench thinking ‘how can I make Nico Lemoine’s first start a good one for him.’ Nico is a good player, this is why I asked if we could sign him from our second team and bring him on board, because I think he can contribute. I’m very happy for Nico, because he earned that opportunity and the reason he came on the team at that moment wasn’t because he was a young player and we needed to bring a young player on. He came on because we thought that was the best player we could put on under the circumstances during the game. So, I’m very happy for him, I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. A lot of learning, but it’s a great career ahead of him. He’s got some qualities that most players don’t have and I’m looking forward to working with him into the future.”
(on Sam Junqua also making his MLS debut) “Yeah, Sam has been performing really well in practice. So, at the moment Adam (Lundkvist) went down it’s not like it came into our mind to switch someone else into that position. So, we could have potentially put Zarek (Valentin) at left back and then brought in a right back, which is Jose Bizama, who’s been out for a long time. So, we really didn’t want to mess with the team because we thought that Sam, although he’s a young player, he’s been doing really well in practice. We thought he’d be up to the task, he came in at a very difficult moment and did a great job. So, we’re happy with that.”
Director Tecnico del Houston Dynamo Tab Ramos
(sobre el partido del sábado contra Portland Timbers) “Si, vamos al sábado con bastante confianza que se recuperó con el partido contra Los Ángeles. Porque sabíamos que iba a ser un partido sumamente difícil, pero en cuanto a lo que viene hacia Portland, los que nos preocupa, un poquito más primero que todo, crear más ocasiones por nuestra parte. Sé que convertimos tres goles contra LAFC. Pero creo que podíamos haber creado más ocasiones todavía. Sobre Portland y su equipo, nos preocupa el movimiento de (Sebastián) Blanco porque es un jugador que se mueve por todo el campo, en diferentes situaciones y también (Diego) Valeri. Porque Valerie es un jugador que se ubica muy bien cuando nosotros tengamos la pelota y él se encarga de ubicarse en sitios donde puede empezar jugadas de transición. Entonces, esas son las dos cosas más importantes en el momento que nos preocupan de Portland”.
(sobre la adaptación a la burbuja en Orlando) “Si, bueno. Primero que todo, los primeros días había mucho nerviosismo porque, obviamente, vimos que los otros equipos habían tenido problemas, habías casos. Y había positivos y a medida que va pasando el tiempo y uno se empieza a sentir un poquito más cómodo. Creo que en este momento, creo que nos sentimos seguros en donde estamos, donde comemos donde tenemos reunión, donde vamos a entrenar. Todas esas cosas ya que el equipo en este momento se siente cómodo y creo que la MLS ha hecho un gran trabajo para mantenernos seguro”.
(sobre la nueva posición de Memo Rodriguez) “Si, bueno. Creo que primero, tenemos que tener paciencia con Memo. Recién está jugando en esa posición con nosotros. Aparte, es una es una posición que, si uno mira alrededor de la liga, es una posición que está cubierta normalmente por jugadores extranjeros que tienen un costo. Y Memo siendo un jugador nuestro, un jugador de Houston que tenga la posibilidad de jugar una posición tan importante dentro del equipo, creo que es importantísimo para para el club. Y bueno, creo que para la para los niños que vienen de abajo para verlo también. Pero en cuanto a su función en general, creo que no cabe duda, que como cualquier jugador joven, va a tener sus altibajos. Pero él tiene buena técnica para jugar esa posición. Aparte tiene buena capacidad física para ir de área a área. Y es lo que le estamos pidiendo, porque Memo aparte de tener buena técnica nosotros le exigimos que él tenga recuperación de balón. Entonces estamos trabajando con él acerca de eso y creo que él va a seguir mejorando a medida que pase la temporada”.
(sobre la mentalidad del equipo en buscar a proponer en la ofensiva) ““Creo que es una pregunta importante, si es verdad, todos los entrenadores vivimos de esos momentos. Lo que sí le voy a decir es que, veo el fútbol de una manera y quiero jugar al fútbol de una manera y de la manera que creo que es adecuada para mí para y para el tipo de jugador que quiero. Sea, hay que recordar que estoy en un equipo que fue formado por otras personas. No fue un equipo armado totalmente por mí. Habiendo dicho eso, tenemos jugadores importantes que a mí me gusta muchísimo y creo que con este equipo podemos hacer buen futbol. A veces se demora tiempo, si existen posibilidades que se pueda perder por supuesto, lo que sí le voy a decir es que en ningún momento Houston va a ser un equipo que va a salir a defenderse solamente. Porque fuimos a Kansas City a presionar a uno de los mejores equipos de liga y desafortunadamente perdimos cuatro a cero. Pero no perdimos 4-0 por querer defendernos, nosotros perdimos 4-0 por salir a ganar. Y así va a ser, así es lo que quiero del equipo. Quiero confianza con el equipo y a veces eso se demora un poquito de tiempo pero la idea que nunca va a ser de salir solo a defenderse y a jugar a no perder”.
(sobre la regla de utilizar cinco cambios) “Si, es un poquito raro porque, no cabe duda, que cinco cambios en un partido cambian el partido. Prácticamente uno está jugando con un equipo diferente cuando hace cinco cambios. Nosotros elegimos a ser cuatro en este partido, como todo el mundo sabe, tenemos tres ocasiones para sólo cinco cambios, aparte de medio tiempo. Y creo que para este partido se hicieron los cambios adecuados. No quiere decir que para el próximo partido no usemos los cinco para poner piernas frescas. Pero en realidad, lo que quiero hacer quiero que el equipo evoluciones. No se trata tanto de darle minutos a jugadores, sino a que el equipo vaya mejorando. Sí veo que lo podemos hacer con dos cambios el sábado nada más, a lo mejor se hacen dos cambios nada más. Sé que no estoy pensando necesariamente que tengo que usar los cinco cambios”.
(sobre cómo se puede utilizar las características de Alberth Elis) “Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con usted en este caso. Queremos idealmente que Alberth se le juegue balones al espacio. Ahí es donde él tiene su mejor posibilidad, porque sí, como usted dice – creo que es uno de los jugadores más rápidos de la liga y un jugador muy potente que entra en el área muy bien. No necesariamente nosotros estamos buscando Alberth al pie siempre, a veces sí. Obviamente, si lo podemos encontrar en extremo uno contra uno le vamos a dar el balón. Pero también es importante que al contragolpe se lo encuentre en espacio y es lo que están buscando frecuentemente”.
(sobre lo que aprendió de los cambios que hizo al medio tiempo) “Si, bueno. Obviamente, no estamos contentos de haber desaprovechado la ventaja de 3-1 que teníamos. Y bueno, el segundo tiempo no se dio de la manera que lo queríamos. Sabemos que defensivamente tenemos que seguir mejorando. Hemos en este momento nos hemos dado siete goles los últimos dos partidos y obviamente el partido de hace cuatro meses es casi otra liga, pero igual tenemos que juntarlos todos. Y defensivamente, tenemos que ser mejores y vamos a competir con un equipo de playoff. Estoy seguro de que vamos a seguir mejorando en ese aspecto y que el equipo va a ir cada vez a más”.
Dynamo DF Zarek Valentin
(on what the team took away from the first game of the tournament) “I think first and foremost, we have to be a little bit disappointed with how the result went. We never want to give up a lead, especially one that was two goals. I think there are definitely a lot of positives to take from it. Primarily that LAFC is one of the best teams in the league. So, taking a point from them can be viewed as a positive, but I think that we definitely want to build on what we saw and play a little bit more of a complete game. I think that there’s definitely room to improve going to Portland, win all three points and hopefully a situation where we can move to the top of the group.”
(on how the team can build on the last performance and carry over to the game on Saturday) “I think there’s a few points in which we can emphasize going to the next game against Portland. One of those is just communication, a lot of times when there’s moving parts on the field, it’s difficult to navigate situations, the easiest ways to communicate whether you’re passing on runners, you’re staying with the runner or whether there’s quick free kicks or set pieces and things like that, communication is massive. We can always improve on that and that is something that we can take from game-to-game. Obviously, there’s individual moments that will be a little bit more specific to LAFC. They pack a lot of number centrally, so we have to make sure we get to the ball and they get their heads down, obviously, if you get pressure on good players but don’t get close enough to potentially make them make a decision then it becomes easy. With guys like (Diego) Valeri and (Sebastian) Blanco, who I know well, we have to make sure that we close them down and not give them as much space, and time to make decisions, because they’re going to punish you.”
(on the play of the Houston Dash in the NWSL Challenge Cup) “First and foremost, I think the NWSL has put on an incredible tournament in Salt Lake City. It’s been great to see and I think the competition levels have been fantastic. I’m excited to continually watch the Dash more specifically, as they’ve been one of the more spoken about “fun teams” to watch. Obviously, down in Houston we have a little bit more access to that and where I would say, we are a little bit on the front foot in terms of recognizing skill and stuff like that. Obviously, Rachel (Daly) has had an incredible tournament and there’s been some players that have really been able to step up and make a name for themselves, which is exciting to see. I think that now the Dash have turned some heads and suddenly it’s one of the organizations that is being spoken about, which rightfully so, and I can’t stress enough that my teammates and I were talking about it and we’re excited to see them hopefully move on in the tournament.”
(on playing with Gio Savarese and Tab Ramos) ““There are some similarities and I think that there are definitely some differences. I think some of the similarities would be that they were both attacking players. So, they definitely want to enjoy the ball and also give the player the ability to express themselves, because that’s what they did. Gio was a goal scorer and Tab’s resume speaks for itself as well, but I think that both coaches want to give the players the space to create for themselves because and not give them too many barriers. Because as players they wanted to have that creativity, that freedom as well. I think one of the biggest differences would probably be personality. Tab is a little bit more, I would say less gif-able than Gio. Gio wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s there and he’s passionate and he wants to be on the field with you and cheering you on. You can see that he’s in the game, when he leaves, he’s sweating, and you know he’s been there with you. Obviously, Tab is a little bit more controlled and pensive about kind of the way he goes about things. Neither is right or wrong, I think that is definitely what you’ll see on the sidelines. I mean every game Gio is doing something where people are looking and saying ‘oh man, that’s a coach that definitely wants to be there with his players’ and then Tab is one of these guys that you know really is knowledgeable that will pull you aside and maybe not be as outwardly emotional but definitely has incredible knowledge in the way he goes about coaching.”
(on Memo Rodriguez’ performance against LAFC) “Memo and I spent a lot of time in the individual training session period of the Dynamo. We have obviously, we were split up into quadrants like most teams and memo was the player to my right or left, depending on the way you were. We were able to run and suffer and work together and I was able to see his work ethic from putting in work on fitness, we challenged each other and kind of have little bets. Then obviously, to see the work you put in whether we were shooting or dribbling, whatever it might be. So, to see him put in that work and to dedicate himself to his craft, was inspiring. It just proves that he belongs at this level and he can really excel and be one of the better midfielders in this league in my opinion. I am his biggest fan, hopefully he’ll tell you that, if not maybe his mom will go first, but I’m definitely a solid number two. I think that he can sky is the limit for him as long as he continues to put in the work, put in the effort, which I know he does. He can become an incredible player and it’s great to see that he is reaping the benefits of that, but also he’s cognizant of the fact that it’s just one game. He scored two goals in one game and now he wants to do the same thing in the next game. He wants to continuously push himself and to enjoy the challenge that comes with that. Ultimately, as most people that cross the ball will tell you, a lot of times those guys make you look pretty good. So, his run was incredible, Mauro’s (Manotas) initial movement helps set everything up and those guys made my ball look pretty decent at the end. Don’t forget Alberth (Elis) doing all the hard work and all the running for me.”
(on how he feels about his experience in the bubble) “As a union member I was involved in a lot of these calls and the background and everything for the past few months. I’ve said that upon seeing a few of my friends and colleagues in the league I’ve thanked them for all the work they’ve been doing. They have been working 18, 19, 20-hour days for the past few months and it’s a lot of work that goes into this. Ultimately, outside of Nashville and Dallas there hasn’t been many positive tests. The players feel safe, this is safer than Houston at this moment in time. We don’t have to go to the grocery store, we don’t have to leave our house to do anything. We can stay in our bubble and focus on the game and focus on our opponents and focus on soccer. That’s the most important thing at this moment. The fact that we are able to give 110 percent and we don’t have to think about the outside world is a kudos to the league, obviously. There are some difficult protocols, we have to wake up early to do testing and things like that. If waking up at 7:15 a.m. to have access to testing, so that we can play the game we love, that’s no problem at all. Again there’s a lot of moving pieces but credit to the league for putting on this tournament in such quick fashion and being successful with it, knock on wood, until the end of it. Which will be early, mid-August.”