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Head Coach Adrian Heath

On if scoring two goals early was his side being ready to go from the jump or Houston dropping the ball_…_

“We started the game well. And then it gradually got worse from there. You know, I was disappointed in the way we played this evening. I’ve got to be honest. I thought we played too slow. I thought we played too negative. Went back when we could have gone forward. And, I didn’t feel as though the game was ever won. All night. And, Tyler [Miller] has had to come up with two or three big saves for us in the second half to finish the game off. That shouldn’t have been the case. But, it’s a welcomed three points. You know, we knew it was going to be a big week for us, the two games. So, to come with six points is huge for us. But, when I look at our performances in the last month, you know, we haven’t played as bad as that many times. Maybe in Kansas. Might be the next worse after that.” 

On beating Houston for the third time this season, and if it gets easier or harder to beat a team three times in a row…

“Well, it gives you an incentive because you’ve won games. Their previous three games, they’ve won two and drawn one. Went away to the Galaxy and drew. And they are in that mode where they probably think they have to win all the games now or at least close to. So, for me, I always thought it was going to be a potential banana skin for us because when you’ve played then so many times, you may be… the players think it’s going to be easier than it was. But, you know, we’ve had to have a big performance from the goalkeeper in the end to sort of see it through, and I don’t think that should have been the case.” 

On Franco Fragapane having either a goal or assist per every 90 minutes on the field, and what is behind his ability to start so fast with the team…

“He finds them little pockets of space in behind the lines and he’s very difficult to pick up. Great ball for Robin [Lod]. Not only the timing of the run, but the weighted pass. You play with people sometimes, they can see it, but they haven’t got the quality to deliver. Franco [Fragapane], with time and space, normally picks people out and delivers. As I said before, now we’ve got all our attacking pieces fit and healthy. That’s going stand in good stead for sure.”

On Emanuel Reynoso’s status…

“He’s frustrated. I was worried he was going to get sent off to be honest with you. He remonstrated with the referee after he had been already booked. And, the way he is, when he gets frustrated with himself, he closes down that quickly that he leaves himself susceptible to catching people and I was worried about that. And, he said he felt a little twinge of his hamstring. Fortunately, he feels as though that’s okay. But, yeah, I think he was a little frustrated tonight at times.” 

On what he likes about the four front men he’s started together for two straight games…

“They’re all intelligent. All good footballer players – and, I’ve said it to you before many times – good players like playing with good players. And, they’re interchanging at times and their one touch, two touch passing is nice to watch. I know that if they’re all fit and healthy then we can start to win more games and climb the table.”

On his displeasure of the game and if that is because of his expectation of this team at this moment…

“Yeah. Of what I feel this group is capable of. I don’t think we’ve hit them heights tonight. We had pockets of really, really, good play that opened them up and created opportunities for us. But there wasn’t enough of them moments for me tonight. As I say, I thought we played too slowly and played too negative. Too many times, I think I can count maybe three or four times we’ve had a thrown in deep in their half and it ends up back at Tyler Miller nearly under pressure clearing his lines. And that is poor play. We’re better than that.” 

On Ethan Finlay’s good run of form recently…

“I think he’s been outstanding the last few weeks. I really do. His energy levels. I said I thought he was a bright spark, even in Kansas even though we were poor. I thought he was one of the few bright spots that night. The one thing you know about him, it’s never going to be for lack of effort for his performances. Because that’s the one thing. Every time. Every time he trains. Every time he plays. You know what you’re going to get out of him. And it’s actual credit to himself and his family. The way he plays.” 

On what tonight’s brightest spot for him was…

“Well, obviously Tyler [Miller] came up big when we needed him. And I was really pleased with the effort to keep a clean sheet. But, I thought that we put too much expectation on the back four to keep that clean sheet. I think Tyler has had too much to do for us.”

Midfielder Ethan Finlay

On his 50th MLS goal…

“Yeah, I mean it feels great. It's a cool accomplishment and now we're looking for 51. Glad it came in a win because then you can at least celebrate it a little bit. It was kind of a weird night. We came out with three points but you know we didn't play our best. There’s probably one guy on the pitch who can say he earned his paycheck this weekend and that’s Tyler Miller. So, he was big time for us.”

On what he thinks wasn’t working for them tonight…

“I don't know. I think just the tempo when we had the ball and when we had possession wasn't good enough. I think we gave it away cheaply at times. It's no disrespect to Houston but we started to kind of play down to their level. They wanted that game to be a kind of run and gun game and that's the style that they've played and have had a lot of success doing it but that's not us and we got away from that and we got a little bit careless. It's just like I said, it's a weird night. It’s a somber three points it feels like right now. I don't know what Adrian [Heath] had to say, but I think everyone in the locker room, you know, we're gonna take it, right? There were some good spots, but I think we need to be playing better than that to beat the top teams. So, that's I guess where I'll leave it.”

On Franco Fragapane’s performance and his ability to perform so well right off the bat…

“It's a great question. You know, a lot of guys come over and it takes them three to six months to get acclimated. He's done a really nice job, really from the get go, but I probably would just say it's his style of play. He’s a hard-working guy and he loves to combine. He loves to be on the ball. And when we have the ball and have possession, he's a guy who's going to be able to pick a pass. We've seen that timeless over the last couple of weeks. So, the fact that he's healthy again and in the lineup and, like you said, contributed at such a high clip. I mean he’s got to be probably top five in the league when you talk about goals and assists. It's great, we need that. We've always talked about needing to have contributions from not just one or two guys, we need to have three, four or five guys doing that, so that's a positive.”

On popping up on the left back to make a clearance in the first half…

“Yeah, you just got to recognize those moments. I noticed Chase [Gasper] kind of lost the ball a little bit cheap on that side coming off of that corner, and we were all kind of going forward. There were probably four or five of us. And I just happened to be on the left side coming off the near post and I actually didn't see Darwin [Quintero] at first over there, but I did take a little peek and thought there’s a pretty big gap. And then as I saw the ball go towards the end line, I thought, okay, you know, this is a little bit nervy and that's where I picked up Darwin. So, I was just trying to make a play. I really didn't know exactly where he [Darwin] was at. I was starting to have all those feelings of Salt Lake where I didn't know if a guy was gonna undercut me and get a penalty called on me. So, you just gotta recognize those moments.”

On if the “somber three points” hearkened to the fact of the team’s expectations…

“Yeah, absolutely. That's exactly what it is. Again, it was no disrespect to Houston, but their team is not in the playoff hunt right now. And if we have that kind of performance against a top two or three team in the West, tonight might have been really different. So, we have expectations to be playing better. And you don’t want to get into these bad habits where you start to play down to another team's level or you get complacent. And that's just kind of what happened tonight. The early goals are great, but we need to put the foot on the pedal and take the teams down and put three, four on the board there.”

On if he thinks this is the best moment of the season for him and with the team…

“It's hard to say. I think I've had some good moments. I think this is, without a doubt, one of the best groups that we've had here. Players surrounding me. I've never been a player throughout my career, whether I was here or in Columbus, that was making a ton of plays by myself. I mean, I make runs off the ball. I'm going to find spaces and I need guys to be able to pick passes out for me. I think when I look at our group right now, we got a lot of guys who can do that. So, that benefits me a lot and my game. So, I'm appreciative of it. I hope it keeps going. I'm not sure it's the best in my career but it might be the best run of form I've been in since I've been here in Minnesota.”

On what the team has to do to keep their momentum, after a strong run at home…

“Well, I think, great starts. In the last two games there have been really good starts. We've gotten on the board and we've been on the front foot. That's no different now when we go on the road. We have that ability to do that. We got to be a little bit more compact defensively. Tonight, I thought, at times, we got into this open transition game. You can't do that on the road. When you're on the road, you gotta be compact, tight lines. We're playing a really good team in DC. Saw they won tonight, 4-2. That's a team that's rising up in the East. They're in really good form. So, it'd be a great test for us. Not an easy game whatsoever but this group is built for these midweek games. I know there was a disappointing performance a couple weeks ago against Kansas City, but I really do believe our depth will hopefully show throughout this next week.”

On how frustrating it is to not celebrate when he doesn’t know if it’s a goal or not…

“I black out. So celebrating, honestly, is the last thing I ever think of. For me, tonight was a weird one because I really didn't know if it had crossed the line or not. It took away two deflections. But you'll take it, right? I mean I think that it was a pivotal moment. I wish we would have kept going and tried to get the third. I think that would have been huge to pretty much put the game away. But I was glad to get it obviously. Yeah, they have been some weird goals. I would like a clear cut one where we don't have to worry about being offsides or VAR but I've got two going my way, so I think I’ve some luck right now I guess.”

On how he celebrated his 50th goal…

“No. I know the club in the past has done things for appearances and what not. I could be surprised, but like I said I'm worried about 51. I hope it comes on Wednesday night against DC.”

Defender Michael Boxall

On what Michael’s son Beau Boxall would say about the three points…

“I am surprised he stayed awake the whole 90 minutes. I think we started off well, moved the ball quite a bit pretty sharply, and then it was academic after that. We lost our way a little bit, weren’t as sharp as we should have been, as we liked to have been, especially for home games. But three points is three points we’ve got to save the least for a big week ahead as well.”

On the expectations following tonight’s win…

“No matter what happens in the game, you’re always trying to look at ways to improve. But then on nights like tonight we showed even with a positive result that there are still a lot of ways that we can improve and get better. It’s more just a mentality thing that we are just going to have the professionalism to keep doing what you’re doing. No matter what the result is, no matter what the score is, you just got to keep going.”

On the positive outcome of tonight's game…

“Three points is the same three points as against Galaxy and it’s a game that we are expected to win, home games always are. I think anytime we moved the ball with a bit of intent and a bit of pace, we opened them up many times. We know what we have to do when we play well but it’s just the point of doing that for the 90 minutes.” 

On Tyler Miller’s clean sheet…

“That’s kind of what I expect from Tyler [Miller]. First half I gave him a little tester as well. But I think of those games when you ride those games out, tt’s inevitable that they are going to get chances, maybe more than we would have liked to. But intelligent goalkeepers are always different. It’s always difficult when you do nothing for 85 minutes and then be called upon, kind of like he did. He’s been class all year and made some big saves to keep the clean sheet and made sure he brings us donuts Monday morning.”

On Donuts Monday morning…

“Yeah when we get a clean sheet he brings us donuts the next day so we all look forward to Monday morning.” 

On what kind of donuts…

“He actually does a really good job with mixing it up. He usually gets a variety. The last couple of weeks it’s been donut holes that have been a treat so you don’t feel as bad. They are just the little small ones. I guilty downing those but always a good way to start the week.”