Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Adu focused, Gaddis confident after Union's first win; Califf explains pregame injury

Here are as many postgame quotes from the Union's 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday as I could cram into my audio recorder. Enjoy.

Adu focused, Gaddis confident after Union's first win; Califf explains pregame injury

Here are as many postgame quotes from the Union's 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday as I could cram into my audio recorder. Enjoy.


Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak

On getting the first win of the season:

I think it was extremely important for those guys in the locker room to have this feeling of the three points. I think we deserved it a long time ago, but today they put in an exceptional game. From having a second shutout – I don't think we gave any shots on goal – to any kind of perspective, it was good.

We created a couple of chances in the first half, and if we had been more direct with the ball in the second half, we would have created [more] chances. But a win is a win. I think that around the 65th minute there was a feeling that we had to hold it up, and I think it was very important to their confidence. They start to see that the work pays off, and they're going to keep going.

On the impact of Danny Califf's injury:

We all know what Danny brings to the table. I've said that many times. He was very disappointed that he could not play the game. So I had to make sure that he will come back sooner or later. Sheanon [Williams] did a pretty good job [at center back], and the rookie Ray Gaddis did pretty good too.

I'm happy for these guys. Because it's not always just the first 11 you count on, but it's also these guys that you give time to here and there. They benefit from being around the team, and playing a game like that.

I think that on the front line, Lio [Pajoy] did very well to hold the ball, and Brian Carroll, you just name it – it's one thing after another. Across the board, I think we had 14 guys that did a pretty good job today, and I think deserved to win.

On what led to Califf not playing:

Danny didn't feel well after our game versus Vancouver. The hamstring started getting tight. So we put him on hold because of the bye we had, and the doctors did a pretty good job to bring him back.

So the first day of the real training was, I believe, Tuesday. He did everything we asked for, with no limitations. But by Friday, he was feeling it again.

He was in the starting lineup, but then he went to do the warmup and all of a sudden this stuff got much worse, and he decided to not go.

It's not me. I love Danny Califf, don't get me wrong.

[At this point Nowak stopped, grinned, and acknowledged the laughter in the room.]

On Raymon Gaddis' performance in his MLS debut:

Because of the speed he's got, sometimes he's in a very good position to recover. We gave him a lot of freedom, and of course he started the game in front of 20,000 people for the first time. From the beginning, you saw that he was just trying to be secure, and clean the stuff that he needed to clean.

But as the time went by, he was not shy to go forward as well. It's a great start for a youngster like that, from the second round of the SuperDraft. I told him at the draft table that we were surprised that he drove from Indianapolis to Kansas City just to be there, hoping that we were going to pick him up.

He was there, and he said, "Coach, I'll be there when you need me." I think that kind of mentality rubs off in a good way on these youngsters, and I gave him a chance. If you have hope that at some point you will play, then at some point the chance will come.

On the fact that the Union had more wide space to work in than they have in some past games this season:

It's not only that.  I think it was more that we stressed over the [last two] weeks that if you are in a position where you have lost a couple of games and there's pressure on you, then sometimes you take the safe way.

I think they started trusting each other with the ball more. There were combinations with the ball, one-two-three, triangles. They moved it to the other side [of the field]. It was very good in this regard. They started trusting themselves with the ball, and that's where the room is created going forward.

Also, the defenders have confidence in each other. So if I play the ball to you, you're not going to lose it, you're going to find another option. That kind of combination, we've done for a couple of weeks now, and if you have good results and a good mentality, and are being positive, that starts paying off.

They start trusting each other with the ball, and if you play to Michael Farfan, or [Gabriel] Gavilán Gomez, or Keon Daniel, they're not going to lose the ball easily. That's going to open another option for these guys, and that's why we have the room to play.

On Freddy Adu's performance:

It was very good. I think that for 60 minutes, he created the PK, he had a couple of good crosses, and Keon just got unlucky with the cross Freddy put together. I think from this perspective, we made a change just to give Josué [Martinez] a run, and also to stretch the back line a little bit with speed.

Also, knowing that we could find room a little bit for Lio Pajoy, because Lio was working very hard, and you've got to take some breaks. So I think it was a good position for him to get some touches, and also combine with the other [players], and find good spots with the ball behind the back line.

Then they switch automatically later on at the end, and we gave Antoine Hoppenot a little time as well.

I think Freddy did alright. He's still progressing. We've got to give him the confidence to make more of the stuff we saw.

On Gabriel Gomez playing a bit farther forward in midfield than he has before, and Brian Carroll playing a bit farther back:

We encourage Brian – he sees a lot of things, and combined with Michael Farfan and Gavilán Gomez, they can put initial pressure on the ball. Also Lio Pajoy, who is working very hard to cover stuff. We can apply pressure with those guys.

I think it's a good position for [Gomez], so that he's not worried about too many things that are going on behind him, because Brian can see what's going on behind him and Brian is good to cover all the ground.

On starting rookies in two straight games – Chandler Hoffman two weeks ago and Raymon Gaddis today:

They both did well. So it's a good feeling. We trust them. We believe in them. It's not going to happen that every game there is a rookie [playing], it's not our intention to do that.

But if the guy is ready – and we've watched the reserve game and practice – and guys are feeling comfortable with him, there's nothing wrong with putting him in the game. Other ones are waiting.

On Gabriel Gomez's chipped penalty kick, and what would have happened had it not gone in the net:

Yeah.

[This was accompanied by a Cheshire Cat-esque grin and a laugh, then a pause for dramatic effect.]

Yeah, I know. What am I going to say. You have to have courage, being in the position that we don't have a win, to make that chip. The confidence is good – I think that's part of guys trusting themselves with the ball. He trusts that he's going to put it in.

In this situation, before the game, the last thing you wanted to see is a chip. But that speaks a lot about the confidence that this guy has.

On Gomez's emergence as a leader in the team:

It's important. Gavilán is very competitive. Sometimes he sees things, and sometimes he reacts to the play, and sometimes he's trying to encourage everybody. Sometimes you've got to find a good balance on when to pass messages, when to encourage guys, and all this stuff.

Being still new to the team, I think the guys are starting to listen to him, which is good stuff. It means they understand each other and that the message is positive. It's experience, and also with the question of having put him a little bit higher, it's giving him the instruction that he's not too deep so he can instruct the guys up front and combine with them as well.

When the time is right, he can always check for the ball and be behind the ball. So it's a combination of things, and I think the more we play similar to this, I think it's going to be beneficial.

On not going forward very often late in the second half:

The last five minutes in the first half were a little bit tough. I told them that we can't defend like we did in the last five minutes of the first half. We've got to play and combine together and we've got to hold the ball possess the ball, and try to open them up from combinations.

They worked too hard to get the ball and try to counter, which was not really a counter. So it's better to go through the lines, go through the zones, and try to find openings, and let the other team chase the ball.

I think at the end they did okay. As I said before, we need to be more focused and more direct – not direct, just creating more options. Not just one guy with the ball, but we need to create options. I think they did a pretty good job with that.

I always encourage them to put the ball on the ground and wait for the back line to press so they can have room to play behind and stretch the defense. I think they did okay. I think Amobi did very well to be behind the ball and also be an organizer, and also keep the ball on the ground. We're still going to work on that.

When you don't have a win, and you are in a position that you are leading after 80 minutes, in the back of your mind it's always we've got to hold on.

Sometimes you ask yourself, "Can I make this run? Because I will need to go back 35 yards [after doing so]. Well, maybe not, really." It's a combination of things, and I congratulate them.

And I want to thank the fans. We've been in a tough situation. We've come up together and I hope to continue it this way.

 

Philadelphia Union defender Raymon Gaddis

On what he was thinking when he first found out he would be starting:

I knew [Peter Nowak] had confidence in me to step up. I didn't think too much about it honestly. I knew I just had to come out here and help the team get the three points. My teammates gave a lot of confidence to me, encouraging me before the game.

The coaching staff, everybody had great things to say before the game, and they made the game easier for me. My confidence was already high anyway, but knowing that they had that type of confidence in me helped me as well.

On defending Columbus' flank attacking players, Eddie Gaven and Ethan Finlay:

Ethan's a little quicker and more shifty. Eddie Gaven, he's an exceptional player, with great touch and great skill on the ball. So you have to get up close on him, not to give him room to penetrate.

On how it felt to make his big run up the right wing in the second half:

It was good. We kept the ball all game, and that opened up that run. We were in a good flow of things today, so it was great. It was almost kind of a broken play. We both went up for a header, and I knew where the ball was and he didn't.

I saw the space, and the coaching staff had been preaching to me at halftime to get forward. So I was just listening to the coaching staff, and putting what they preached into practice.


Philadelphia Union defender Danny Califf

On what caused the pregame injury:

I felt good before the first part of warm-ups, and then I did a longer, 40-yard sprint and I just felt my hamstring tighten up a little bit. I continued going through warm-ups, whatever, but then right as we were about to go in, I felt like I needed to do another [sprint] just to make sure everything was okay. About 25 yards into the sprint, I felt my hamstring grab at me.

I felt like I probably could have pushed it and tried to go, but I didn't want to have something happen in the first five minutes and have to burn a substitution.

On how much of the game he was able to watch:

I was in getting treatment for the first half. So I got to watch about 35 minutes of the second half.

On what he thought of Raymon Gaddis' performance:

I think he looked good. He was up and down, he was using his energy. It was great, I thought he did a great job.

On the importance of getting a second straight shutout:

It's big-time. A lot of times, the hardest thing to do is get that first one. So we've got it, and now the monkey is going to be off our back a little bit. We're going to be able go forward throughout the season with not just belief that we can get a clean sheet, but that we can get a win. That's going to be really important going forward.


Philadelphia Union midfielder Freddy Adu

On whether he was surprised to be substituted out of the game in the 63rd minute:

Yeah. But we won the game, and that's the most important thing.

On whether, given the slow start the team has had so far, the result Saturday had to be a win:

Yes. All I cared about today was getting the three points. We did that, and we're happy with that – any which way possible. Everybody's happy. It seems all is right with the world right now. But we've got to just get back and build on this, and keep getting better.

The next game is going to be a challenge for us. Chivas USA is doing well this year, and playing much better soccer than they did last year. So we've got to go in there and really be mentally strong, and really go in there and bring our A game, because we're not going to win that game if we give less.

On what he has been focusing on over the last two weeks, and what he wants to focus on going forward:

I just want to be an impact player. It's important to me. I did that with the [United States] U-23's, and I want to build on that. As a player, when you play good games and things are working, your confidence is high. Right now, my confidence is high, and now I've just got to focus on maintaining that level and getting better.

The goal was always to transition what I was doing with the U-23's back here to Philadelphia, and so far it's good. But it can always get better.

On whether not having any upcoming national team commitments has helped focus him on playing well for the Union:

Yes, for sure. Now I know I'm going to be with Philadelphia, and my focus is just here. It helps out a lot, to be honest with you. You have to be focused on your team, because these are the guys you are going to be with for the rest of the season. You've got to work hard for them. Today was good, and hopefully we can keep it up.


Philadelphia Union defender Sheanon Williams

On watching Raymon Gaddis make his MLS debut:

I think he did a good job. I'm really happy for him. I think about it, and that was me a couple years ago, just getting thrown in. I know that there are definitely some nerves, and I'm sure as the game went on, he felt more comfortable. You saw him as he bombed forward on that one run.

I'm happy any time one of the new guys gets some time. They work so hard in practice, and he's done a great job this year working hard and clicking with everybody else. It's a well-deserved opportunity.

On how he ended up with stitches in his lip:

This actually happened Thursday. Me and Danny Califf went up for the ball, and as you can see, his face is okay and my face is completely in shambles. We were facing each other and went up to head the ball. I went to head it back and he went to head it forward, and he just kind of rocked me pretty good.

On making the tactical adjustment to center back, especially given how often he goes forward when playing right back:

Yeah, it's just different. Before the game, I kind of changed my mindset to get ready for center back. It's more of a battle in there than it is at outside back. And obviously there are not as many opportunities to go forward, except maybe on corners.

It's whatever the team needs at this point – we just wanted to get a win, and to get the ball rolling. We're happy to do that, and I'm happy to help out where I can.


Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath

On watching Raymon Gaddis make his MLS debut:

It was awesome. We all know Ray, we all love Ray. He's an awesome personality and an awesome player. I think he was well-deserving of his start, and he obviously did a really good job out there against a tough team.

On whether he sensed any nerves from Gaddis early on:

No. He's a confident guy. He always has a sense of confidence about him. I think he came out there and was waiting to get his first touch out there, and get his shot.

On recording two straight shutouts:

It feels good. My goal every game is always to keep the team in it and keep a shutout, and to keep two shutouts in a row is a good building block.


Philadelphia Union defender Carlos Valdés

On the importance of getting the first win of the season:

It's very, very important for us. I think that we have played very well in the last games, but the results were not good. So this victory for us is very important, and we hope that in the next game, we can keep wworking and the results can be good.

On the impact of Danny Califf's injury:

That was not good for us. Danny is very important for the team. He is an experienced guy. But you know, all of us are working every day to get the opportunity, and the guys who play, who have the opportunity to play, deserve it.

I think Ray did a good job. I am so proud about him.

On whether he said anything to Gaddis before the game to give him some extra confidence:

Yeah. We trust him. He was working very well during the week, and we trust him to play.

On playing with Gabriel Gomez:

Gaby is an experienced guy, and he's trying to help us. He has played a lot of times with the national team of Panama, so it's very important when he is focused and tries to give us that experience. That's very good for us.


Philadelphia Union defender Gabriel Farfan

On how he felt after taking quite a few hits during the game:

It's fine. Going into games, you always expect a battle, and I go into a game ready to fight. I think I did a decent job with battling out there for my teammates.

On Danny Califf getting injured so close to kickoff time:

It didn't affect us too much. We know that we have guys that can do the job back there. Obviously, it was a big hit that we lost with Danny, but we have a lot of confidence in the guys that we have on the bench.

On whether having Califf out makes him stay back on the defensive line more than he would otherwise:

Not really. [Ethan] Finlay is a fast guy, so I couldn't risk it too much. I tried to get forward as much as I could but I also tried to do my defensive job as much as I could.


Columbus Crew manager Robert Warzycha

Opening remarks:

I think that was a physical game, and we came to play. Obviously, Philadelphia, with their record, wanted to win the game, and for us, we knew it was going to be a battle. I think we matched their intensity. Unfortunately we gave up a goal – it was a penalty that was very questionable. And we lost, 1-0.

On losing by such a small margin:

Obviously, it's disappointing. We needed three points, and especially catching a team that maybe hasn't had the best start. So I'm disappointed.

On whether there was anything particular that the Union did that made it difficult for Columbus to create a consistent attack:

Yeah, they made a lot of fouls. Especially in the first half, the beginning of the game. They got two yellow cards, and then the referee let go a couple of things. So basically there were tactical fouls in the beginning of the game.

But anyway, that's what will happen when two average teams, I think, play each other and try to win the middle of the field. So I'm not complaining about that.

On whether he felt a need to bring more players into the middle of the field as the Union focused on that area:

Yeah, the one thing you would think is you need to match their numbers, but to me it's to attack the flanks. Because if you have so many players in the middle, then the flanks should be open.

But they did a good job on the flanks to stop [us] with [Gabriel] Farfan, and they did a good job stopping [Ethan] Finlay over there on the left side. On our left side, we didn't have too much, to be honest with you.

So that's one of the things. I thought the set pieces were going to be a little bit better, winning the second ball, but obviously we didn't.

On the penalty decision:

If it's a penalty, it's a penalty, but it's tough to lose a game like that. If you're 100 percent sure that was a penalty, hey, I'm fine. But if you're not, then I'm not.

On what he would say to his team after the loss, given how many regular starters were missing:

It's not easy to play when you have so many injuries. But I think that for the other guys, the younger guys, there are opportunities to step on the field and actually get some minutes and get better. So this was a very good test for us here in Philadelphia. They are physical, they play hard.

It was a little bit different than starting at home against New York [last week], when we basically didn't match their intensity in the first half. But today, I can't say that I'm disappointed by the performance. I think they did a pretty good job.

On why he decided to not start Emilio Renteria:

That was more a tactical decision, I think. Aaron Schoenfeld did a pretty good job today holding the ball. He has a physical presence. Emilio hasn't scored in four games, so someone else got a chance, and I was thinking maybe he was going to get lucky.

On when he knew he was not going to have usual starting midfielders Dilly Duka and Danny O'Rourke:

With Danny, this morning, and with Dilly, a couple of days ago.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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