HEAD COACH CALEB PORTER
On Toronto FC having few opportunities but converting them
That’s the cruelty of football. When you live, eat, breathe, sleep this sport, and it’s your job attached to it, you know, it’s heartbreaking. But we’ve all had matches like this where we had no business tying the game. It’s another game, again, two in a row in particular where we doubled the opponent in shots and I thought we should have had at least four or five goals based on not just the shots but the actual chance. And it never really felt like they threatened us much at all and yet they find two goals. So yeah, it’s a heartbreaker.
On the role of Crew SC’s defense in Toronto FC’s late goal
I think we’ve been a bit unlucky. I mean, when you’re looking at - and I know you guys love analytics and I do as well, right? But when you look at the analytics and you look at expected goals the last two games, we’re not giving up good looks. We’re not getting broken down. Like I said, we doubled the opponent’s shots, two games in a row. You should win. When you double the opponent’s shots, you should win. Of course, in this sport, you’re going to have anomalies where you don’t, but we’re defending well as a team, we’re not giving up clear looks and I didn’t think they [Toronto FC] had much at all. I thought we had more chances than any game we’ve had all year, we should have scored four or five goals. That goal they scored at the end, we had four or five of those. We got to pick up, obviously, Jozy [Altidore] on the cross, they’re going to get crosses in. They didn’t get many in on the night, but there’s no mystery he’s [Altidore] going to be in the box off a cross. It was the one moment that he had and that’s why he’s one of the top, top American strikers ever. He had one moment and he’s going to finish that nine out of 10 times. I always say this game comes down to a moment in the boxes. What you want is to be in more moments than the opponent, which we were, but it’s always going to come down to making those plays.
On weighing Crew SC’s winning streak with their place in the standings
We’re playing so well, fighting so hard, we’re creating good chances, we’re scoring. I think we’ve scored two goals in – what is it, five of the six? We’re doing so much right and you just leave the game going, how did we not win that? How do we not win it? It would have been unbelievable. Just like last week. Two in a row, and that would have been four more points. If we just look at the last two games based on how we played, based on the chances we had, we should have four more points and it’s hard to not look back. But as I told the guys, we don’t have time to cry. It hurts but we don’t have time to cry. We got to keep going. We’ve got Wednesday and a game at New York [FC] so we got to pick ourselves back up quickly and get ready to go. Obviously, we know where we’re at, but nothing’s going to change in how we play and what we do. We’re going to control what we can control, and things will shake out how they shake out. It’s just disappointing that we’re not higher on the table based on how we’ve been playing.
On the firepower provided by the players coming off the bench
Well, let me be clear about one thing, that group of guys in there - I love those guys. I love these players and I love this team and I think we’ve been unlucky based on dropping some points recently in this six-game stretch, but I love the way we’re playing. I’ll go to war with these guys, every day of the week and it’s tough, because when you look them in the eyes, you just want them to get that win tonight. You want them to have that feeling. Forget about me. I want them to have that feeling. I want them to be rewarded for how hard they’re working and how much they’re giving. There were times, I’ll admit, earlier in the year I wasn’t feeling that way. I was feeling like this group needs to be different, needs to be better, we need some new guys. But this is starting to become the team that I envisioned, and you see how we’re playing and the goals that we’re scoring and the aggressive nature that we’re playing with. That’s a good team [Toronto FC], let’s not forget, guys. That’s a very, very good team. I know they didn’t make the playoffs, but they were one of the best teams in MLS history a couple years ago and it was one-way traffic. It doesn’t look like when you look at the table, like we’re very close, but we’re a heck of a lot closer to being a very, very good team than it looks on the table, and I know that, and that’s the most important thing, and we’ll keep getting better too.
On whether a team needs its best players to shine in key moments
I mean, you know the answer to that. You need, just like Jozy [Altidore] finding the goal, they pull the rabbit out of the hat. I mean he pulled a goal out of nothing and when you look at the teams in this League that are up the table, they get their strikers doing that, every game. I don’t even need to look at the score sheet with most teams – you know who is going to be on it. Gyasi [Zardes] is the guy that needs to be on it for us and he knows that. I have confidence in him, I have faith in him. That’s why I left him in the game. I thought he’d get the next one and I thought he’d get the next one and it’s something he’s got to work out mentally. Every striker goes through rough patches and slumps, and they have games where it doesn’t come and he’s got to have a bad memory because he’s missed some really good chances in the last two games and certainly that’s cost us points. He has proven he can do it, he’s got to work the kinks out and he’s got to figure it out. He’s getting in great spots. I know earlier in the year guys were talking about how he’s not getting in good spots. We’ve corrected that. He’s getting in good spots, just got to finish. He’s getting in more good spots than ever, too. But I have confidence in him.
On Youness Mokhtar’s first start
I thought he had moments where he was dangerous and lively. He should’ve scored. I thought first half it was what I envisioned. It was going to be a little bit of a chess match. We knew they’d [Toronto FC] have a lot of ball with the way they create overloads and advantages. Obviously, they went with a 4-4-2 diamond. We knew they [Toronto FC] were going to have possession. They didn’t create much at all. That was disappointing. I thought they scored a goal against the run and I thought we had three really clear chances and two of them were [Youness] Mokhtar’s. So, that’s good – he’s getting in spots and positions. He’ll only get better. It’s tough to come in midseason. He’s coming off three months not playing and he’s got to now hit midseason stride and we all have five months on him and so it’s difficult. But yeah, I thought he was lively, I thought he was dangerous. His work rate was good, he’s clever, he gets out of stuff. But he’ll only get better.
MIDFIELDER YOUNESS MOKHTAR
On how much more he can improve
I think I can improve a lot, you know? This is just my second game in three months and this is the first game I started, so I am getting better and further every week so I think there is a lot more potential to grow and also with the team. We’re making some changes and we have some different players in the team as well, and the coach has also more options now and he can switch out and bring the guys in, fresh guys who can make the differences and so it would give the coach more options.
On being comfortable out on the field
Yeah, I try to do my best, I know what my qualities are and I know what I have to add to the team so I try to do that and I try to play from my qualities and as I said, this was just my second game so the fitter I’m going to get, the better I will be and the more the team will have from me.
On the difficulties of coming into a team midseason
Yeah, last time I came in at Norway and it was also tough, especially when the competition is already full going on with a lot of games in a short time. For me that’s no excuse, I am a professional player, I have to get used to this and try to adapt quickly and try to fit as quick as possible and as soon as possible. These games are happening a lot, if you just train you’re never going to get fit you need to be in the games, so this is helping me a lot get to my level.
MIDFIELDER DAVID ACCAM
On emotions after conceding a late goal
I was really disappointed because I thought we played very well, especially in the second half. We created so many chances. These games are the difference between making playoffs and not making playoffs. Again, today we let ourselves down, we were much better and we should have won this game by four or five goals but we didn’t so, for us I’m disappointed, I think we let ourselves down.
On whether the new additions to the team add a spark off the bench
There is a lot of competition in the team, especially in the wing position. We have a lot of good players and everyone is capable of starting and doing well, so for me it’s about being ready and being ready to make an impact any time I get a chance.
On whether having competition at midfield has helped him become a better player
Yeah for sure, because you know someone can take your position so any chance you get, you have to take advantage. That’s what I try to do every time and I know most of the guys to do the same.