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Head Coach Adrian Heath

On the second half of play against the Seattle Sounders…

“The strange thing was, I think we started really well in the first 10-12 minutes of the game. I thought it was a good start, and we looked like we were very close on a couple of occasions to putting people in and then they took over the game. There were 35 minutes where they were very good and their shape affected the way that we played, but we changed things around at halftime. We put an extra body in at midfield. I think it was really interesting that suddenly we didn’t see much of [Cristian] Roldán in the second half and we got closer to João Paulo. We got closer to [Albert] Rusnák and I felt then that we started to get a real foothold in the game. Once we got the goal, I looked at the clock and I thought we’ve got a good chance to take something from the game. But we had two or three really good chances: Boxy’s [Michael Boxall] header and Luis [Amarilla] had the one where he totally passed the post, which was surprising for him. The one thing that I took after the game at the end was the commitment to the group. You couldn’t fault them. We finished the game really strongly again. It’s another game where we have probably finished stronger of the two teams. I have to mention it… I thought the atmosphere of the stadium was absolutely incredible at the weekend. A big thank-you to the supporters. This is a two-way thing. I always say that. We need to give the fans something to get behind, and they recognize the effort that the players were putting in. That last 20 minutes, the atmosphere in the stadium was as good as it’s been in a long time.”

On changes yielding positivity leading into the coming game…

“Well, we’ll see what we’ve got available. Looking at Romain [Métanire] today, Romain is going to be a lot closer this weekend. Kemar [Lawrence] has had another 11, another week, eight days under his belt so he could come back in. We haven’t had the same back-four in any game this season. I think we’re fifth least-conceded goals in the league, so that speaks volumes considering we’ve not had the same back-four once. We’re going to have some big decisions to make because today everyone was out training, which is nice.”

On having Joseph Rosales and Bongokuhle Hlongwane available for play…

“They’re two really good, young players. Bongi [Bongokuhle Hlongwane] excites people because he can beat people. He runs with the ball. I thought Joseph [Rosales] was probably as good as anybody on the field in the second half. 20 and 21, bode well for their futures, for sure.”

On preparing for the match with Austin FC…

“They’ve had a good start. It’s a difficult place to play. Great atmosphere within the stadium. They push men forward. We know the way they’re going to play but stopping them is not as easy as it looks. I think it’s three games now, they haven’t won in three so maybe we’re catching them at a good time, I don’t know. We know it’s going to be difficult, but we’ll be ready for it.”

On the sentimental value of returning to Austin…

“It will always be because it was the first place I came to when I arrived in the States. It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve done so well as an MLS club. I always thought they could become an MLS club. We were legitimately getting five, six, seven thousand as a USL team. I know that when they had the watch parties for the National Team games, the figures were off the charts. There was one of the highest viewerships in the country so no, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be enjoyable. I’m glad to be going back and will see a lot of friends there. I’m looking forward to it.”

Defender Kemar Lawrence

On getting first minutes with the club…

“Honestly, it just feels good to be on a pitch after a couple of months not playing but it was good to go out there with the guys. To push it a little bit and kind of feel where my body is at so that was good. I know most are upset that we lost. I thought we were going to get even one in the end just to tie it but that’s part of the game. We live and we learn.”

On his body after his return…

“Good! The turf doesn’t help but it’s good to be out on the field and just push the game, trying to get a couple of crosses in, trying to see if I could help the team to rally on and pull something back. It was good. I felt okay and hopefully this weekend I can earn that starting spot.”

On the first few weeks with MNUFC…

“The first week has been rough. The welcoming part of it, the guys, it feels like I’ve been here for a minute now. The locker room is pretty humble. We have a mix of young and senior guys, I wouldn’t say old, for them to watch it back and see, but you’ve got a mixture. Around the league, everybody knows everybody. Either we played against somebody or met somebody in the All-Star or somewhere. We know of each other so that mutual respect is already there. It’s about coming in and being that leader but also doing what people expect you to do on the field. I’m not a big talker in the locker room but when I get on the field, I let my game do the speaking. So far, I’ve been doing that.”

On fitting into the system of Adrian Heath…

“Perfectly. It allows me to be me, and I love that. This is why I feel like our relationship will be a great one. When you get a coach that doesn’t say really much to you, he understands you and you understand him. He doesn’t need to give me a lot of information day by day. If he says one thing to me, he knows I get it. He knows on the day that I’m going to try to deliver and I continue to do that. If there’s anything at all that I don’t feel like I understand, I’m never scared to ask anybody. It doesn’t have to be the coach. It could be one of my teammates. I’m not afraid to ask. There’s nothing wrong with asking.” 

On if there is a specific dependency with a member of the team…

“Not really. People expect me to say [Oniel] Fisher but he’s no help at all. He doesn’t cook, he doesn’t do anything. He just lets me be in the hotel all day long because I’m still in the hotel. A lot of the guys ask a few questions here and there, but Fisher is my guy. Anything I want to know, I’ll ask Fisher.” 

On the benefit of having a familiar face near…

“Of course! It’s good to have somebody that you know and it makes it feel a bit more homey. When you get in, he can have your back a little bit, so that’s the good part.”

On coming off of the first loss for the club and preparing for Austin FC…

“Seattle is a good team. It’s a team that has been a good team for years now. When you go up against them in a game like that, you expect a tough game and they expect the same. If you look at the goals, they could’ve been prevented. It’s something, asI said before, you live and you learn. The little mistakes that you make in there and what you could’ve done better, you take from that game and try not to repeat those mistakes. Going up against Austin, I haven’t played there yet. I’ve heard it’s a great atmosphere so I’m looking forward to that. I haven’t really watched their team but I’ve heard that they love to push the game, especially because their fans get into the game so that will be exciting. Obviously, we love to push the game so I’m looking for a little bit of back and forth and see how it goes.”