Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Nowak: 'At some point we're going to score the first goal'

Here are some postgame quotes from after the Union's scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers at PPL Park.

Nowak: 'At some point we're going to score the first goal'

Here are some postgame quotes from after the Union's scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers at PPL Park. There's also a video at the bottom of the post with interviews from the Union locker room.

Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak

On whether he is concerned that his team has not won a game since July 17:

It's always a concern. I think that as I've said from the beginning of the season, when you're trying too hard sometimes you miss plays here and there. I think that overall in the game, we were better than the other team.

I think that from the scoreline, we cannot be happy, but I think we deserved the three points. But we've got to move forward. I applaud the effort from those guys because after the tough game on Wednesday, they pulled, and I think you could see some of the guys get tired. That's why we made the substitutions.

I think it was a tough stretch for us with three games in one week, but we've got to more forward.

On whether his players are trying too hard:

I don't know. It's a good question, and a lot of wondering why. Sometimes the ball doesn't go your way, and we miss by a couple of inches. I think if we had scored in the first half from Séba, then it would have been a very easy game.

I think it's a mental part that if you don't score the first one, then here we go again. I think we have to overcome those obstacles and keep going, and keep creating chances.

At some point we're going to score the first goal, and then it will be easy for all of us.

On whether the team's youth and inexperience are factors:

Not really. I think personally, we still lack a mentality going forward that is going be like, 'Okay, we didn't score, or I didn't score - I'm going to do whatever it takes to score a goal.' Not being happy just to be out there. It's to have the kind of mentality that says, 'Okay, I'm going to put it in, because it depends on me.'

I think that from this kind of mentality, we need to change. Of course, being young is also a factor - we can't overcome being young and being nervous. But that's what I said about mental strength, how you overcome this and keep going.

You make one bad pass, you're going to show up again for the ball. No thinking about having made a bad pass or a bad free kick and I'm not going to take another one because I'm not going to do it right.

So I think it's a lot of things that we need to talk about, we need to show the players that in some capacity we have to do better.

On Zac MacMath's performance:

I think it was very good. He was very good and very stable, and also gave a lot of confidence to the back line. I think that whole back line, plus Brian Carroll, played a very good game - an exceptional game.

How fast [MacMath] came on the counter-attack when Sal Zizzo got that look, he didn't give him much time. He came very fast off his line and that's why we were able to clear it, and the attacker didn't have time to chip it over his head. He chipped it, but there was not enough time to make it right.

So a very good and stable performance. Even with the four goals on Wednesday, I think he did very well, especially in the second half. In the first half, he didn't have too many chances to show how good he is.

On whether it will be good for the team to have a week off:

We train. We train tomorrow. There's no off days with seven weeks to go in the regular season.

On whether it will be good to have a week off between games:

[The reporter asking was attempting to clarify his previous question. Nowak got the point, but certainly made one too with his previous answer.]

It could be. I always believed that for the players, it's going to be easier at this point because it's not so much training as fitness. You play the game, the next day is regeneration. So have a bit more time to relax.

When we came back from Salt Lake City, we didn't have much time. We just did the easy tactical part. And as well after the Wednesday game. I think it's good to have a week for preparing ourselves for the next game.

As I said, tomorrow is going to be a regular training. It's time to get this stuff together.


Portland Timbers manager John Spencer

His overall view of the game:

I thought in the first 15-20 minutes we were well under the cosh. They started the game well after a 97-minute game against the Revolution, a fantastic performance that they had to come back.

They pushed us back and started well, but I thought we weathered the storm after the first 15 minutes. We got a little bit of belief in ourselves, and Sal Zizzo had a couple of half-opportunities to maybe put us into the lead. If he had gotten around Farfan he woudl have converted them.

And then coming into halftime I felt pretty happy at 0-0. In the second half, I thought that from the kickoff we started to dominate the game, and were unlucky. We had Kenny Cooper on a breakaway, and Sal Zizzo had one where if he was a little more selfish he could have put the ball in the back of the net. He tried to chip it over the goalkeeper to Perlaza.

But all in all, I think it's a very difficult place and a tough team to play against - well-organized and quality players. So I think that as we are trying to get to the playoffs, it was another step in the right direction.

On shaking off any rust after a 17-day stretch without playing:

It's one of those questions that you answer after a game, and if you win the game you say it helped us to have a 17-day break. But for us, I don't think we started as sharply as I would have liked.

I felt that they were going to come out and have a go at us, because those were the comments I had seen online. And they certainly did that. They had one shot that hit the crossbar near the end and a bit of pressure late in the game, but apart from that I thougt we had better clear-cut opportunities on the night.

On both teams' lack of ability to control the ball late in the second half:

I just felt the game got pretty stretched, and when you see the game get stretched then you see end-to-end football. I thought our wide midfield players were staying too wide defensively - they were sitting with their three midfield players in the middle, and were keeping a lot of possession. But in front of their back four they weren't causing many problems.

But as I said, I was happy with our performance tonight. It's a very, very difficult place to come and play and it was a good experience for us.

On what makes PPL Park a difficult place to play:

It's a good atmosphere, a beautiful stadium, the field's magnificent, and I think Peter and his coaching staff have done a good job building a very disciplined team. They are very well-organized and very strong. A lot of teams have come here and been caused a lot more problems than we were caused tonight.


Portland Timbers defender David Horst, a native of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

[Draw a line north from Lebanon and west from Kutztown. Pine Grove is basically where they would intersect. It's about a two-hour drive from Philadelphia.]

On whether he was able to get home, having arrived on the east coast on Thursday:

No, I didn't get a chance to make it home. The flooding hit my town pretty badly, so I didn't get a chance to make it back there. But I have a lot of family that came from the game, and a lot of people from my town made it down here.

I think it was the first time they had ever gotten to see me play in person, which was really exciting. It was the first professional soccer game many of them had seen, so I'm glad we did well tonight.

On how PPL Park compares to Portland:

I really enjoyed playing here. Even though the fans weren't for us, it was still a great atmosphere for the Union. It was fun to go out there and play. It's fun when the fans talk a little smack to you. You enjoy that and feed off it a little bit.

On whether he grew up a Philadelphia sports fan:

Yes. I'm everything - Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, I root for them. I was hoping to come to the Union when they had the expansion draft. It didn't work out, but it's working out in Portland right now.

On whether it's coincidental that so many teams have struggled making cross-country road trips this season:

It's tough to go across all the time zones and play. I think it might be harder to go west because time goes backward for you, so you have to adjust that way. But it's tough to across time zones, because jet lag does catch up to you after a while. I thought we as a team did a fantastic job tonight of grinding out this result.

On the craziness of this year's playoff race:

It's like this every year. It comes down to seven or eight teams coming down to that last game. It's why every game at the end of the year is so vital. You've got to play well in every game, because every game could be your last.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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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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