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Head Coach Adrian Heath

On how the recovery process has gone the past couple of days…

“It’s one of them. You think you’ve done the right thing and generally you only find out when the game starts, the mood of the group. The players know what my feelings were from the game the other night. I thought we gave away the initiative too early. I don’t think we started quick enough. I let the players be aware of that. Hopefully we’ll have a little bit of a reaction to that tomorrow.”

On the possibility of making any changes for fresh legs…

“We’ll let the guys know tomorrow what the team is.”

On the performance of Taxiarchis Fountas this season…

“Obviously he’s come in and hit the ground running. I think he’s had a brace in four games. Obviously he’s coming in in form. You look at his goal the other night, really good movement in the box, pulls off the back shoulder then necks in front of the defender at the last minute and it’s a good finish. He’ll be playing with a lot of confidence and when you’re playing against strikers who are in that sort of form they think anything is possible. We have to be fully concentrated. I always use that word because good strikers wait for that moment when you lose a little bit of concentration and then they strike. We’re aware of him. The new manager [Wayne Rooney] coming in will give them a bounce, I would expect. They’ve changed the shape, they’ve changed the manager. I think it’s a little bit of a different D.C. than it might have been a couple of weeks ago.”

On if Taxiarchis Fountas was one of his All-Star selections…

“No, no I picked somebody else. But he’s a good player. To come in and hit the ground like he has speaks volumes and he’s dangerous. We’ve showed the guys a lot of video. As I say, he’s always in that little blind spot and he’s always looking to get off the back shoulder then get across people so we’ll have to be fully aware of him.”

On Alan Benitez being available against D.C. United…

“No. Still waiting on his stuff to come through.”

On any updates about Mender Garcia…

“No, still waiting again. Everything is a case of in the hands of immigration on all this and there’s not an awful lot you can do about it.”

On the Ukrainian youth teams attending training on Thursday…

“I spoke to our players about it. It’s more… I think it’s really difficult for anybody to comprehend what they’re going through. We’re coming out here every day playing football, we have a great job, a great living that we have and they’re worried about their family back home getting bombed. It’s a crazy world that we live in and I can’t believe we’re going through this again. Your heart goes out to them and God bless they come through it all right and they go home and their family is still in one piece. I think it’s really difficult to understand what they’re going through. They were [in good spirits]. I said before if this takes their mind off what’s going on back home just for a split second then it’s a good thing. They all seemed to be enjoying it. Obviously the world’s game always seems to bring everybody together. It’s nice to get them kids out of the environment they’re in and bring them here where they can enjoy playing football.”

On what the acclimation process has been like for Bongokuhle Hlongwane…

“He’s done terrific. I don’t think people realize how difficult it can be to leave the continent where he’s from. He’s incredibly popular with the guys. He sits on the South American table and doesn’t speak a word of Spanish, but he seems to understand everything that’s going on and there’s always lots of laughter on that table. He’s doing really, really well. We’re really pleased with him and as I’ve said, there’s a lot more to come from him.”

On how Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s English is…

“His English is good. [Jokingly] It’s his native tongue, so it should be good.”

On how his Zulu speaking is…

“My Zulu is not too good.”

On Bongokuhle Hlongwane not converting chances yet…

“I think in front goal he’s just got to relax and just let his natural instinct take over. We’ve seen him in training score goals, so we know he can score goals. I think once he gets one it will make him relax and hopefully then he’ll start to do things instinctively rather than overthink it because he wants that first goal so badly.”

On D.C. United hiring Wayne Rooney as manager…

“I was surprised. Wayne [Rooney] has had a good start Derby [County] in ridiculously difficult circumstances. It’s hard enough football as it is, but when you wake up every morning not knowing if you’ve sold one of your players or players are not getting paid or embargoes and everything. I think the fact that he’s been at D.C. before was a big pull. I know he enjoyed it there. I think when you look at their core group, the likes of [Steven] Birnbaum, etc. I know he was close to them guys. I think he will have a galvanizing effect of them. Whether that becomes a little bit late from where they are, I don’t know. Certainly this is a different D.C. team than it would have been three weeks prior.”

On if Julian Gressel leaving D.C. United changes the game plan…

“No, but one thing we do know is [Julian] Gressel might be one of the best crossers of the ball in the league. So that’s a sort of a weapon that we don’t have to think about. I’m more concerned with us. I was really disappointed with the first half the other night and hopefully we’ve learned a lesson from that.”

On the return of Kervin Arriaga…

“He’s about at least another week, I would think.”

Defender DJ Taylor

On starting at right back on a regular basis…

“It’s been great. Being here last year it’s all about working hard and that’s what Gaf [Head Coach Adrian Heath] wants from me and being able to take advantage of opportunities has been great this year.”

On what it’s been like over the past couple of games…

“Honestly we’re not training, so you’re just recovery and then fighting to play the next game. You wake up and there’s a game the next day. For me, it’s just about mentality. It’s about no matter who we’re playing, where or when, how do we dominate and play the way we want to play.”

On how important watching tape is with multiple games over a short period…

“I think it’s super important because we get to see the little niches that teams have, the way they play. It helps us especially as defenders as a back four too. We get to see what the [attacking tendencies are] and that helps us as team when we’re in the game.”

On the performance against Sporting Kansas City…

“I think the first half we just kind of came out a little slow. I don’t know, maybe a little rusty. I don’t know why. Guys were a little disorganized, but second half I think that was really us at our best. We completely dominated them. Obviously with [Johnny] Russell, he’s a great player. I think we should have just finished our chances at the end. Keep developing that killer mentality that’s going to help us get to the top spot which is kind of where we’re at right now.”

On the groups mentality over the past four games…

“It’s been a huge shift. I think we all just have gotten really closer. Obviously when everyone is winning everybody in the club is more happy. I think we all just take it in stride with the positive vibes and we keep going. Use that knowing that we’ve developed these wins on top of those losses in previous form to take it in stride and keep winning.”

On the signing of Alan Benitez…

“I embrace it. For me, it’s about competing for the spot no matter who’s playing. I’m going to help him, push him to be the best he can be and I’m going to push myself to be even better. At the end of the day it’s up to Gaf [Head Coach Adrian Heath] and I respect his decision. For me, it’s all about just pushing each other for the team.”

On what the staff has said to him about signing Alan Benitez…

“They haven’t said much. They told me about him, like his strength is attacking. For me, it’s all about looking at the controllables and if I can do what I can do and control what I can control then whoever is on top will play.”

On the season D.C. United has been having…

“Seems like they’ve been struggling with their previous results. A little disorganized. I think they’re in a tough patch, so I think for us it’s a great opportunity to dominate here at home and really set a stand on the league of where we want to be. I think we’ll come out in full force.”

On the hire of Wayne Rooney giving D.C. United a boost…

“I think they could be trying to make a psychological lift against us. But we’re at home. For us, it doesn’t matter who comes here. I think the biggest thing to worry with them is their player [Taxiarchis] Fountas and just being aware of him. Other than that, it’s about us just setting our standard and making sure we kill that psychological lift.”

On how to deal with Taxiarchis Fountas…

“Just being aware of his tendencies. He’s super good with close control and very smart with his movement. I guess it’s always covering the guy who is marking him. Making sure we have someone covering there in case they get beat one-v-one. Other than that, just being defensively minded as a back four.”

On personal expectations against D.C. United…

“I’m expecting a goal or assist and defending with the best of my ability. Never getting beat one-v-one. That’s I think the mentality for the team as well. Just dominate in all aspects of our game. We all do our jobs and the result will come.”

On the turnaround the team has made…

“I think it just comes down to us really looking at ourselves and grinding out what kind of team we want to be. It’s obvious that we have the talent to be one of these top teams, but I think the mentality thing is what we were lacking at the beginning of the season. Now we’re finding that mentality where we can finish out games and we are scoring goals and defending well. For us, I think it’s just coming altogether and keeping that mentality as we keep going.”