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Head Coach Adrian Heath

On the victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on ‘Decision Day’…

“Pleased. Pleased for everybody connected with the club. Pleased for the players. As I said on Saturday, I know people have been talking about the last six games, but six games doesn’t define the season. It’s what we’ve done since February that matters. We’ve put ourselves in a position at the weekend where if we won, we were in the playoffs, and we did. As I say, pleased for the players. Delighted for our supporters who I thought were magnificent on the weekend. It’s four years on the trot doing what we think we should do. Now, can we go one better? We’ve got to go to [FC] Dallas and win.”

On keeping a clean sheet against the Whitecaps…

“The likes of Boxy [Michael Boxall] – I think Boxy might have had his best game of the season – I thought DJ [Taylor] was outstanding and then Dayne [St. Clair] coming up with two big saves when we needed him. So, at this stage in the season where everything’s on the line, you can’t afford to carry anybody and I don’t think we did at the weekend. I thought the energy levels from the group and the enthusiasm to want to win the game was there for everybody to see.”

On the pride in leading his club to the fourth-consecutive playoffs appearance…

“It’s a reward for the hard work we do as a staff. I’m the focal point of that because I have to come out and do all the conversations. But in terms of video analysis and all these people – Stewart [Kerr] who is with the keepers, Ian [Fuller] and Sean [McAuley], it’s a big collective and really pleased that we’ve done it again. Now we have to try and make a run this time.”

On what he has made of FC Dallas’ season…

“It’s Nico’s [Estevez] first year and I think it’s a real positive for them. They’ve sold players in the past and now they’ve been starting to buy a few now, obviously [Alan] Velasco, a lot of money and obviously very good talent. [I’m a] big fan of [Jesus] Ferreira, I think [Paul] Arriola’s a really good MLS player as well. So, they’ve got quality. It’s never easy going to Dallas. It’ll only probably be 90 degrees there on Monday night, not the usual 140. With the team that they’ve got and the conditions that are generally there, it’s never an easy place to go and I don’t expect it to be easy on Monday.”

On how MNUFC’s center-halves will get the better of Dallas’ front attack…

“Well, it’s all about decision making. It’s about concentration levels, when you go tight, when you drop off, is it going so deep that you don’t need to go for it. It’s easier said than done at the time because like you say, if you step at the wrong time, the wingers make their big diagonal runs inside, so we’ll have to make sure that we’re nice and compact and don’t give a lot of space. I don’t want it to be a transition game where they attack and then we do. I think we’re at our best when we have a nice tight block and then work from there.”

On what he’ll take from the victory at Dallas earlier this season…

“All the things I’ve just said. We have to be well organized, we have to be disciplined, we have to make sure that when we press, we all press and don’t get stretched out. I think if we can do that, we know we have enough talent to catch teams on the break. We know we have enough talent to win there, we’ve proven that. As I say, it’s tough, but it’s one we can win.”

On the support from MNUFC fans traveling to the match…

“It’s great. It’s one of the things that I miss about English football is the fact that you can go away and have six, seven thousand of your own fans there. So, it’s always nice when you can get an away following. We’ve had it in the past in places like Chicago and down in Kansas, so it’ll be nice. It’ll be nice to hear some familiar voices.”

Defender Brent Kallman

On the match against Vancouver…

“I thought it was a good performance; much needed. We felt like we were in more control and had more discipline than we’ve had lately, which is a good sign for us. Being able to get a clean sheet as a group, not just for the back four, and for Dayne [St. Clair], but for whole group, I think it was really important.”

On how that clean sheet felt psychologically for the group…

“It was good. We watched quite a bit of film, we reviewed a lot of things that were not going well in the San Jose game as a back-four and as a group. The instructions that we got on how to remedy it and then our application of going out and actually doing it were spot on. We did a really good job of execution what they [coaching staff] wanted from us and I think it really paid off in the game against Vancouver.”

On how it feels to be the lone Western Conference team to have made the playoffs four years consecutively…

“Yeah, that stat surprises me. But, it feels good. I think it shows how difficult it is to win in this league and be successful year after year, especially when you take into account injuries and all those things that can happen. It’s not like we haven’t had them, those are things that we’ve had to fight and deal with and other guys have stepped up. It’s a good accomplishment. I think it’s something the club can be happy about. But, I still think everybody here… It’s time to start going after trophies. Everybody knows that.”

On what the team can take from its earlier victory against Dallas into Monday night…

“We can take a lot of confidence. It’s difficult to win on the road. This year, we’ve had the most wins we’ve ever had on the road this season and the fact that we’ve actually had won there earlier this year, it should give us a lot of confidence that we can go there and get a result. We have nothing to fear. If we take care of our own business and we do the things asked of us, we’ll have a shot.”

On FC Dallas…

“I think they’re really good. They’re different up front than a lot of teams. They play more of a false-nine. Jesus Ferreira is not your typical nine. He’s popping off into different areas and then their wingers are running in behind and stuff like that. So, it’s definitely a different look and different than how a lot of teams do it. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for it.”

On the problems a false-nine can cause…

“It can happen really quick. If the nines drop into those spaces, sometimes it’s too far for us to go and we need to pass them on and keep our shape. But if it’s a situation where we follow them in, those wide guys are looking to run into the holes that we leave. They’re really powerful guys, they’re fast guys out there and they can finish, too. So, it’s really tough. You have to judge, as a center-back, you have to judge those cutoff points. When do I let the nine just go and pass them on and hold my shape and then the other times where I need to actually go and follow him and make sure he can’t just get it and turn. Because that’s a problem, too. If he gets it and turns and starts running, now you have those guys who are coming down on you and it can be a difficult situation. All the pictures are different, but it’s trying to just use your information you have to make the best choices.”

On how to get the better of FC Dallas…

“It’s going to be discipline. Disciplined shape. I think you saw in the home game, especially when we fell behind and tried to go press them allover the place, they’re really good playing out from their goal kicks. They were able to get out of everything and able to switch the play and get numbers on the opposite side of the field and come up and attack. I think us keeping a nice block, being really disciplined and really tight is going to service us really well.”

On his mindset going into playing his first playoff match…

“I will say this last game, it felt like a playoff game. I was approaching it exactly like a playoff game. I was nervous, I’ll be honest. I was as nervous or more nervous than any game I’ve played in in my life going into Vancouver. There was a little delay before the game kicked off and we were out on the field and man, I felt like I could’ve thrown up. I felt like I could’ve yacked, I was so nervous. But, I’ve found in my career that those are moments where it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to play bad. Sometimes that’s when I get some of my best stuff to come out. I like the fact that there’s a lot on the line. I think for a lot of players, not just myself, it kind of brings the best out of them.”

Defender DJ Taylor

On the much-needed victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps…

“It was definitely much needed. It allowed us to get back to who we are as a team and who we want to play as and be as we continue to push through the playoffs. I think everybody performed excellent and we all just came together, which is kind of like when we had that streak earlier this year. That’s kind of what it was is that everyone was selfless and pushing 110 percent.”

On what the difference was for the Minnesota back-line versus the Whitecaps…

“I think it was the collective difference, to be honest. The back-line, we watched video from the last couple of games about things we need to sharpen up on and then we transferred that communication on to our teammates and we got a clean sheet, finally. We had been struggling to do that. It’s been a huge relief to get a clean sheet. But, we did push the extra mile, per se, to get the clean sheet.”

On how it is good psychologically to have gotten that shutout ahead of the playoffs…

“It’s perfect timing. We got into the playoffs, now we’re in the playoffs. I think it’s perfect to get that clean sheet and set that standard, now that the regular season’s over, that this is the standard we want to keep for the rest of the playoffs.”

On his thoughts on FC Dallas…

“They’re a good team. We went there before and won. I think that’s something we can take in stride with confidence. I respect them for Paul Arriola; he scored a nice one against us last time. But, I think it’s about us. This playoff run is about focusing on us and what we can do.”

On having scored his first MLS goal at Dallas and expectations of that again for Monday…

“As outside backs, we have a lot of spaces out wide. Usually their midfield is super compact. So, it kind of gives you more freedom to shoot, pass, cross. It just gives me more time to make decisions, so I’m definitely am expecting to have that magic happen again there like it did before.”

On if he had more space to take shots versus Vancouver…

“It was a little bit of both. Watching video and one thing I struggled with defensively as the back-line was stepping while the play is up higher with [Emanuel] Reynoso, per se. We were slow to get our line up. I kind of focused on that so when the ball gets turned over, I’m there to either get the shot off or create another attack again. That’s kind of what I was focused on in the last game. I’m definitely itching to score and I was close on the second shot. Looking forward to running that in the playoffs.”

On what the group can take from its win at Dallas in May into Monday night’s contest…

“I think it’s just that mentality that we established, even in the last game against Vancouver, about just being hard to play against and us fighting for each other and having the mentality that no one’s going to score on us and we’re going to score goals. Us taking that mentality into this weekend against Dallas is going to be perfect and I think we’ll do the job.”

On how he and the back-line prepares to face Dallas’ front-three…

“It’s kind of more of me staying more compact than I usually would. If Boxy [Michael Boxall] or BK [Brent Kallman] or any center-back steps out, I have to cover them and that’s the first priority letting the ball go wide and then we defend the cross. So that’s going to be my mentality, just staying compact if my center-back has to step up to help them deal with the attackers.”

On what he’s made of Dallas’ entire season…

“I think they’ve been a good team. I kind of expected them to do better, I guess, with the players they have and the style of play they play with possession. But, they’re at where they’re at right now and we’re where we’re at. So, it’s kind of just, ‘let’s go for it.’”

On how, tactically, he can get the better of FC Dallas on Monday night…

“It’s about us just keeping our compact shape again, especially when we’re defending. They’re going to have a lot of movement, especially for us as a back-line, it’s going to be tough to deal with it. It’s about over-communicating to the next guy and helping each other out. On the counter, we’re always going to score goals and create chances. As long as we can keep our defensive shape, a clean sheet wins you games.”