Veljko Paunovic's weekly conference call featured an injury update on players who were not available for the Houston match, a discussion about formation and system, and look ahead to the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
Here are the highlights:
On team injury updates
"Collin Fernandez will do some preparation. He will rest a couple of days more but he will be fine by the end of the week to be with the rest of the team."
"(John) Goossens is still in his treatment and the process of recovering from the injury. We believe that he will probably be ready to join, we don't know yet the concrete date, but he will be able to join the rest of the team after the (Copa America) break. We'll talk about it later, once we are back after the break."
"Michael Harrington is still recovering. We don't know yet if he's going to be ready for this Saturday. His injury is not a big issue. It's not a long term injury. We expect for sure that he will be, at least after the break, full go."
"Gilberto had a minor (knock) but he was able to train today full go."
"David Accam is fully recovered. We took advantage, if I can say it like that, of the suspension this week so he could do some extra work-out."
On the pluses in the Houston game
"I think we improved in our attacking performance. We had a lot of shots on goal. Twenty shots is the highest shots on goal total since opening day against New York City FC. That was very good to see. I still believe we have improve our performance in conversion of those opportunities and conversion of those shots. This is something that we have to work on. We are working hard on our offensive side to improve the numbers and win and score goals. This is something that we will continue doing and we will get better in the weeks to come."
On the work in training to improve scoring
"We work on finishing. We work on taking shots from different positions and different situations and in different aspects of the game. It can be combining. It can be in a counter attack. It can be individual action, 1v1. I think you could also see that all those shots were taken from different situations and different positions on the field. (We'll) just encourage that and keep on working, repeating, and believing, and working hard."
"I'm absolutely sure that at some point in the season all the pieces will come together and we will start performing much better. We will have more offensive outcome. Obviously, we have to keep our defensive good performance so far. When all of that comes together I think that we will be very, very competitive."
On the Portland match
"I think it's a great team. I think it's going to be a very tough game for us. We played against them in the preseason and it was a very tough game. We had a great performance in Portland. We learned a lot about them in that game and for sure we will prepare for this game. We have a long week to prepare but we need to take advantage of all the weaknesses they may have. Also, we have to be very smart and very careful with their strengths. I believe they have a lot. They play as a team. They're very good in transition. They're very good on set pieces too. They have individually, very good players. I'm not going to mention them, but you perfectly know that they are MLS Cup Champions. Fantastic team. Fantastic coach. It's going to be a tough game but for us it's another challenge. Another opportunity to improve and to win."
On building on the Houston win
"Today in our meeting before training we encouraged the guys to believe. We have a very difficult game. We have to take advantage of this week to prepare well to go through the week from moderate to high intensity and come to the game in the best possible shape. We are building another momentum. We believe that winning the game against Houston will help us to come to this game with more confidence, better prepared, and that's something that we have to work on this week. We believe that it's a great moment for us to finish that first part of the season winning against a very good team and at least have a very good performance."
On working with the 4-3-3
"I think the team feels very comfortable in the 4-3-3 system. We used variations of that system, especially in attack. I believe that the team feels very comfortable, especially playing with three midfielders in the line and then having a guy like Arturo (Alvarez), like David (Accam), like Goossens when he's back. Guys who can play beneath the strikers or find those spots in between the lines in order to be a link-up player and connect with our attackers. I think we did very well playing against New York Red Bulls in that formation and it was the same or even better performance, especially in attack against Houston. We will stick with that at this point. We believe it's something that can help us in the future also to be more dangerous and more competitive and a better team."
On the 4-3-3 match up v Portland
"When they play with (Fenando) Adi they play in a different formation. They play with one striker and then they play with (Lucas) Melano. In some examples, they play very narrow and tight. We are looking for something different. When we have Gilberto, Kennedy, Accam switch positions to create superiority on different parts of the field and in the final third, it can give us a lot of advantage. We have very fast, very offensive guys up in front and I believe that can help us."
On Calistri's role in 4-3-3
"He did very well in the game against the New York Red Bulls and also in the last game where he came in. Joey is a very versatile player. He can provide us a huge amount of work rate in the final third and also in the midfield. He did very well. If you remember in the game against New York, he started wide on the right side and we moved him inside to cover their midfielders. At the same time he was very dangerous in offensive transitions from our half to the final third. I think we are also managing the load in his rookie year. The experience has to be the right amount of games, the right amount of pressure, and the right amount of minutes. So far, it's good to see he's participating. He's having opportunities every time he earns it and he deserves it. After that, to be supported like I believe we are doing with him. Support him and give him more opportunities. I can tell you that's not the only case. Joey's been great and we are very happy with all our youngsters and all our rookies and all our guys. I believe we have a very good group of guys and we want to give them all the support and all the tools to be successful for the team."
Filed under: 2016 Regular Season