July 28th, 2012 by Michael Orr
Interim manager and technical director Gavin Wilkinson and midfielder Jack Jewsbury spoke with the assembled media on Friday after training. Here are their remarks, in their entirety…
It’s not a whole new preparation. They’re the same team we’ve played against and lost to twice. We can’t let them beat us three times. It’s a matter of pride. If there was a game at the start of the year say, ‘how many points should we be getting off Chivas?’ And right now, we would’ve all gotten it wrong, wouldn’t we? I think we need to address that. I think if we come out and play as well as we can, we’ll win. We’ve got the talent. The preparation for this game has been good all week, the players are focused and their spirits seem very, very high. So hopefully we can build off the Aston Villa game and take it in against Chivas and get three points.
I think Ryan [Smith] is out. He came off in the last game. I think he’s actually torn his hamstring. So that’s hopefully a good thing for us! He’s caused us problems. If you go back to the first game, he had two great deliveries into the box. Maybe we weren’t tight enough and didn’t our jobs and they punished us twice. One of them was damaging, it was right after half-time and it took the whole air out of the team, didn’t it? I think if you remember that game it [Smith's introduction at half-time] really did change the mentality and the approach to the second half. Ryan [Smith] and Chivas punished us, as well. I believe he’s out for this game. But they do have a lot of dangerous players. I think [Juan] Agudelo is back in. You’ve got Juan Pablo Ángel as well. They do have good players. They do have dangerous, dangerous pieces. We have to get back to saying, ‘this is our stadium; this is a place where we should be constantly getting three points.’ It’s just a game that we have to go into and get three points and find a way to win.
I think Brent [Richards], in pre-season, was dreadful. He was getting through his final exams. Brent, as a person, you can’t help but like him and appreciate him. I think in the last two months, especially, he’s really, really growing as a player. He’s taking a lot more responsibility in training. He’s having more of an influence in training. He’s a very, very effective player. He strikes the ball well with both feet. I think if we’re going to continue to talk about potential, and continue to talk about our young players, they need to be given a chance. So for Brent, this is his first start with what we’re looking at in MLS. So hopefully he’ll take the challenge and do well. It’s not a matter of me trying to surprise people with his selection. He’s got a big up side and I think he’ll do well.
That [Richards starting] is to be decided. In the squad. Sorry, let me go back. This is the first time Brent’s going to be in the squad with actually us viewing him to actually start. What we’ve got to do with Brent…he’s an effective player and he’s deserved the opportunity. I think you always have to reward good habits. He’s a player that’s trained extremely, extremely well and deserves the opportunity.
If they [young players] deserve it, definitely. I think you could see in the Aston Villa game we had numerous young players who got the opportunity and I think they took it very, very well. You can say that it’s an exhibition game and it was light hearted but they wanted win. They were playing against good players and they still played in front of a home crowd that expected to win. The young players, I thought, came on and did well. Should they continue to work hard, should they continue to make developments – good developments – in training, we will give them the opportunity.
He [Brent Richards] is a Home Grown Player, so it’s in our best interest to maximize our home-grown talent. He doesn’t count against our salary cap for two years, so you look at it as a free player in many, many ways. I think you’ll start to see more Home Grown Players come through our academy and through our PDL program, which is a positive for us as an organization in developing youth within our territory. But with Brent, he has all the traits to be successful. I think he was a late developer. I think college was very, very important for his development as a person and a player. I think he’s developed very, very well in this professional environment and should continue to do so. It’s not me coming in and liking Brent and giving him the opportunity, the coaching staff have been very impressed with him for many months.
Yes, in a good way [spoiled for choice with players finally healthy]. I have to give full credit to John Ireland, our fitness coach, and then you’ve got Nik Wald and his crew, the athletic trainers. And then with Providence, I think they do do a good job. There’s no excuses, as I’ve said. We’ve got a full complement of players available for selection really and once we get José Valencia back training, which we expect him to start joining in in a couple of weeks with technical work. We’re expecting him to be joining in with the squad September 1. Then we’ll have everyone back. It’ll be interesting to see how he [Valencia] progresses with this group.
Eric [Brunner] had a full training session today. He’s doing fantastic and it’s great to have him back. Let me double-check but I’m pretty sure he has been [cleared to play]. The return-to-play protocol is, he’s allowed a full training session and if there’s no symptoms that reoccur after that, then he’s available for selection. We’ve followed everything very closely. There’s a lot of scrutiny around concussions and it’s a sensitive topic. We understand why and agree with it. So if Brunner doesn’t have any side effects from today’s training session, normally he’d be available. But he’s got to get his fitness back. It’s been a while since he’s trained. So for all intents and purposes, for me, he’s not available.
I think right now it’s a must-win for each game. So it’s not a matter of, let’s install a system that will get us through the next seven or eight weeks. It’s a matter of what do we think will win us the game tomorrow. Against LA, to give you an example, we played in a 4-2-3-1 and the two we played for a reason because Keane and Donovan and Beckham like to utilize the space between the midfield and attackers. So the idea between those two was to nullify the opponent. Ultimately, with the result, you could say it didn’t work. They had some key performances and we had some key let-downs. But I think the system at the moment, with where we’re at, not being in a position to dominate the game and not being able to enforce ourselves on the opponent, we’ve got to make small adjustments. That’s just how I see it and how the coaching staff sees it.
We’ve gone over the scouting report from when we played them a couple of weeks ago and we’ll do it again. Nothing changes our mind with the fact that we have to win this game here at home. Then next week it’s another team that we’ve played recently in Dallas. So, familiar foes and guys that people are used to playing against. It’s just about how we approach the game and come out tomorrow night.
I think the last game, in LA, it was a game of two halves. The first half the kind of took it to us a little bit and in the second half we came out and pressed the game a little more. So we’ll be looking to do that tomorrow night, especially here at home. We want to take the game to them and create some chances.
You pride yourself in trying to win those matches against each individual team, especially in the Western Conference. Any time you lose a game, especially at home, you want to come back here and get a good result. We’re not looking back on the past. It’s a game that we thought we should’ve gotten more of, a couple of weeks ago in LA.
It [the Aston Villa friendly] gave a lot of guys some time. Again, we’re still working on shape and stuff like that so I think it was good defensively, for the most part, in terms of staying together. Any time you can come back two times in a game, it’s good for the morale of the group.