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Head Coach Adrian Heath

On his thoughts from Saturday’s match at San Jose…

“Poor. Poor with the ball, poor without the ball more importantly. Energy levels were poor and we have to take responsibility of that, as a staff, because it wasn’t good enough. We know that. We seem to be saying the same thing. We need a win. We at the weekend, we could even finish fourth, believe it or not. It’s been a crazy last few weeks for sure. Not just for us but for all teams around us.”

On the last couple of weeks for the team given the run of form…

“We’ve taken one point out of 21, so that’s not been good enough and we’ve dug ourselves into a hole now. And we’ve still got an opportunity, which of course, you wouldn’t have thought with the run that we had, we wouldn’t be in this position. But we’ve got ourselves in a position where ten of 11 other clubs would like to be at. We still have an opportunity. We’re playing at home, it’s in our own hands. It’s up to us to go and get a victory. Let’s go and make sure we don’t get beat.”

On the occasion that is Decision Day…

“As I said to the players after the game at the weekend, when you start playing football, you play for these moments. Big games, when everything is on the line. Full out. Probably one of the biggest crowds we’ve ever had Allianz [Field]. And as I said to the players, I know our supporters are going to be ready, we have to make sure that we are as well.”

On how he gets the group ready for Sunday…

“Psychologically, there’s not an awful lot you can do other than try to accentuate all the positives that have gone on. As I’ve said to you, in the spell of results that we’ve had, there’s been two or three really good performances in there. We need another one of them and are capable. Vancouver are coming in. We know they’ve got to have to win the game so that changes the complex of the game a little bit. All to play for. I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure the players will too.”

On what he expects out of Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday…

“They’ve changed the shape a little bit at times but they’ve been sticking with their 3-4-3. Ryan Guald has had a really good year. Whether it be [Brian] White or [Lucas] Cavallini, they’re both big bodies, both athletic, maybe [Pedro] Vite. A few weeks ago, they didn’t think they’d be in this situation so they’ve given themselves a bit of hope. They’ve won their last three home games to put themselves with a chance. We’re going to have to play well.”

On limiting Ryan Gauld…

“With all good players, you try to limit the opportunity of the ball getting to him. Once he does get it, you gotta be in good spots and concentrating. You cannot, with good players, you can’t give them time and space. That’s when they hurt you.”

Defender Michael Boxall

On his assessment of the San Jose match last Saturday…

“Very disappointing and everything felt like we were a half a yard off, just giving them too much space defensively. With the ball, we were a bit more careless than we typically are and passes just missing the targets, half a yard there. When you add all that together and give San Jose the ball and a bit of momentum in front of the home crowd and they want to go out on a high note and we kind of encouraged them to do that with our sloppiness.”

On how much Sunday’s atmosphere and situation will give MNUFC the edge…

“It has to. We need a massive response. We know the one thing that’s been the most consistent about this season is our crowd at home always providing so much energy and a great place to play. So, we need to reward them with a massive performance. I think defensively, we need to be a bit more disciplined, and with the ball make sure we have the right attacking intensity for the full game.”

On these situations and games being the reason players play the game…

“Why you play is because you want to play in big games. And, we’ve kind of let ourselves down by turning this into a big game. But, at this time of the year, there’s nothing better to get you ready for the playoffs than playing in these types of games. It’s all or nothing and we need to play like that and give everything.”

On the importance of Minnesota scoring the first goal…

“If you look at our record when we do score first, I think that shows our mindset into these games when we’re on the front foot, everyone’s pushing on and the intensity is there. If we do that, that gives us more to defend. Once you do that and get the crowd involved, we feed off that massively. So, if we score first, it goes a long way to deciding where the points go.”

On how he prepares to face the likes of Vancouver’s Brian White or Lucas Cavallini…

“It’s a big challenge. Sometimes they play the both of them because they can be quite direct and they’re quite physical players who are tidy and have got quite a bit of pace. They offer many threats either directly or they’ve got players like [Ryan] Gauld who can provide quality service. They have many threats, and I think if we’re anything off from what we’re capable of, then it could be a long night.”

On what a victory would mean for the Loons…

“Massive. We’ve gone through a bunch of ups and downs and earlier in the season managed to respond. We’ve kind of dug ourselves a hole again and I think, for sure, we’ve got it in us to respond. On the weight of how the season’s gone, it’s what we deserved, but football doesn’t always necessarily give you what you’ve deserved. We need to make sure it’s not in question with our performance and how we play on both sides of the ball. It’s a massive one. We know it’s massive for our fans to give them extra games to watch this year.”

Midfielder Wil Trapp

On his thoughts following the San Jose Earthquakes match last week…

“It’s a situation in which our grasp and understanding of what was at stake maybe wasn’t realized on the field. This is a game [where] you win, you clinch the playoffs. We didn’t know at the time, but you clinch a playoffs spot and you’re potentially getting that third or fourth place finish here down the stretch. And instead, I think we just got stretched. We really opened ourselves up with winning the ball high, which is always good, counterattacking, but never really coming away with real chances from that. Because this is a game against a team who is last place – we score that first goal, how much resolve did they really have, what are they really playing for? If you let them stay in the game and score from a little free kick, it changes the whole complexion.”

On the importance of scoring first…

“It has to be [vital]. Playing this game, which is essentially a playoff game, and then into the playoffs, it’s the same thing. We score the first goal in the playoffs, teams get nervous, they start over-extending themselves and then the game opens up and for us, that’s great. But, that only comes from us creating the chances but then finishing off the chances. That’s not easy to do it, it’s easy to say it. We have enough quality to do so.”

On the reason for MNUFC’s current run-of-form…

“It’s hard to put your finger on one specific thing. Ultimately, if you do concede first, what we need to really focus on is not over-thinking it. Not trying to win the game in the next minute because you start to see we leak in, maybe, an own-goal or a score on a free kick and the game starts to get chaotic. For us to be successful, if we concede first, is to calm down. We have plenty of time in this game – 40 minutes or so – to score a goal and tie the game or come back and win it. So, a little bit more patience and resolve and understanding that we’re tough enough to put teams under pressure and score without having to do it in the first minute.”

On Sunday’s home match and why players are in sports…

“For all intents and purposes, man, it seems as though MLS is paying the Western Conference teams to make it as tight and chaotic as possible, which is amazing for viewership and also as players and staff – it’s why you play. The excitement of it, the pressure of it and the moments that a 90-minute game every single minute matters in this game on Sunday. These are the ones you want to play. Of course, we’d love to be already clinched in the playoffs, but ultimately I think these games test you and push you to have those nerves and those muscles of pressure being tested earlier on and those carry teams into playoffs runs and they end up winning.”

On Vancouver’s run-of-form the past few months…

“Look, even when we played them away, it’s a team that’s fairly organized; they know what they are. They don’t over-extend themselves too much. They don’t make a ton of little mistakes. With that comes a lot of pragmatism in how they play: set pieces and counterattacks. They have some quality. When you look at Ryan Gauld, [Lucas] Cavallini, Brian White, they’re all handfuls. You add in [Cristian] Dajome and those sorts of pieces and they’re a team that they make it difficult when we have the ball and when they have the ball, they try to spread you out and do interesting things.”

On how he will limit the movements of Ryan Gauld…

“I think we did a fairly good job, in the game we played them [Vancouver Whitecaps] away, of understanding their two number eights, two number tens really like to run in between spaces. And, they try to overload a lot. The two strikers for them – whether they play two strikers or not – either guy, [Lucas] Cavallini or [Brian] White, makes it really difficult on our center-backs. It’s understanding that the ball likes to go into the nine, and then these two guys are underneath trying to pick up pieces.”

On the importance of transitions…

“We’re going to have to be comfortable in those moments because if you want to press the ball high at times when we pin them back, you have to put yourself in situations where you can get tight to guys and make it hard. Whether it’s the striker or whether it’s the number ten underneath, putting pressure on that guy so he can’t receive that ball easily and well and turn out of it. Then you get your back pressure from the guys that were just attacking.”