Q&A: Nowak, Olsen, Rimando
Head Coach Peter Nowak
How does it feel to be playing at home for the next three games?
"We've had a pretty busy and tough schedule. Now, we've three very important home games. As far as these games, they are not going to be any easier than the first five. I expect Columbus, the first opponent, is going to come in and do everything they can to win the game because they are in a very desperate situation. They have one point, which they got last weekend, and I expect them to fight for their lives. It's not going to be very easy."
"We talked today and yesterday about how we are going to approach this game. I must say we are treating this team with respect. We cannot go into this game with a careless approach and say, 'We're going to win this game before it even starts'."
"I'm sure being at home is going to help. We wanted to create, even in the pre-season, that every game is important. We have a had a couple of good days. Yesterday, we played the University of Maryland and scored a couple of goals. I'm sure we're going to be ready for this game."
How much of a confidence boost was it to win on the road in San Jose?
"Absolutely! I'm sure that it's going to be different at home because our fans are fantastic. It's going to be like the Twelfth Man. Everyone on our team is going to go out and win this game. Then we'll have eight points, and we'll see how New York and Chicago are going to do. If they have bad results, we're going to be in first place. So, for the next three weeks these are very important for us because we can establish ourselves."
Are you worried that Columbus will be desperate for a win?
"We had the same situation before the game against Chicago. We didn't approach that game too good. I think that I'm not scared about this game, but I am worried about the approach by the players to this game. We're going to do everything we can to avoid that situation and to get our first shutout."
"They're fighting for everything and it's a dangerous situation. As I said, we have to be very focused and concentrate on what we're doing every single day.
Assess Adu's start and performance on Saturday.
"Yeah! I think he did very well. There's still a lot of stuff to make it better. Actually, we had a conversation at half-time at what we had to do better and, I think in the second half, he really pushed himself to the limit. Eighty minutes for him was tough for him, but we wanted to see how he was going to do. Like I said, everyone wants to play the full ninety minutes, but I thought he was OK for those eighty minutes."
Was it a difficult decision because Eskandarian has played well in the various games he has appeared in?
"It's not only Alecko. I think all our forwards - Ronald, Jaime, Freddy, and Alecko - have shown they can score. Everyone has one goal. It's not like Alecko hasn't scored. We create the situations for the other players, too. Dema and Benny Olsen scored goals. We need to create more situations like this because it makes it easier on the other players. Alecko works very hard every single day. It doesn't matter if we're playing away or at home. We thought that we had to give Freddy a chance to prove where he is at, and see what he can do right now at this moment. Right now everything is open for this weekend."
What will this game against Columbus tell you about D.C. United? Is it a must win situation?
"Why is this a must win? It doesn't matter that it's early in the season. I told you guys in pre-season that we weren't going to play and say, 'This is early the season and we'll play this way. This is before the playoffs and now we have to pick it up because the playoffs are close'. It's not like that. You can't just turn the key on like a car and the engine starts. You have to work very hard every single day. We worked very hard in the pre-season, and very hard in the last five weeks. We are unfortunate not to have twelve points. We've played good soccer. We've lost a couple of games and played without mistakes. This is the learning process. I expect it's going to be the same thing in the next couple of weeks. We just to avoid mistakes, but learn from them if we do have some."
Are you leaning towards starting Adu this weekend?
"I'm not leaning towards anything. It is only Wednesday. It was great to see Freddy get eight minutes, but everything is open right now. I'm sure Alecko is going to do everything he can to come back into the lineup. We'll see what happens."
Do you think Adu has a special quality that can change a game quickly and the other forwards might lack that ability?
"No, everyone has five minutes of greatness. Not just Freddy, but everyone has to have five or ten plays to make a difference. As I said, we'll have to see how we can make Freddy better and everyone on the team better. It was great to see Freddy in eighty minutes, because we can sit down and talk about what he did good and what he did wrong."
On San Jose's goal, was it Adu's responsibility to mark or play closer to the goal?
"No, it was a miscommunication. The goal was part of a bad set up for the whole team. There were forty-five seconds before Jeff Agoos delivered the ball to Troy Dyak, and we didn't do a good job with that. Everything we put on paper for that moment, they just forgot about it. It wasn't Freddy's fault; the whole set up was bad. We've already talked about that and how to make it better."
What players on the team are emerging as leaders?
"It's too early to say right now who is going to be the leader. It's very difficult to establish this kind of mentality. This is not about star players and it's not about the coaches, it's about the team. The team is going to be the star, and we're going in a good direction. This kind of leadership you create on and off the field and it takes more than five or six weeks. It's a natural process and we have to wait to see what is going to happen."
Do you think Eskandarian and Adu have different playing styles? How would you describe their styles?
"What do you mean by styles? They're both fast. They both create spaces. They can finish. What is the difference? I don't think that there is a big difference. I don't think Freddy is the same type of player as Jaime. Freddy is more like Alecko or Bobby Convey in this kind of environment. Both are fast, both are small. There's not much to add to that. They are both very dangerous around the goal. They are both left footed and have quick feet. I don't see the difference."
Do you think that they are easily inter-changeable in this system?
"Yeah, it's a different style with them with dribbling or moves, but everyone has different styles. As far as the concept of the team they are similar."
Ben Olsen - midfielder
How does it feel to have several games at home?
"Yeah, for three games, and we're pretty excited about that. It's been a busy pre-season and first part of the season. To be able to get into your own bed and do your own routine is going to be nice. Hopefully, we can take advantage of that and get the points we need to get back on top of this division."
Last Saturday was an away game against the champions and you got a point out of a difficult game. Is that a big boost to this team?
"It was a good feeling, even though we still think we could have won the game. To tie away in San Jose is a good result. It's a tough place to play. They are the former champions and we're happy about that. But, we've got a lot of work to do here. We haven't picked up the points we needed to get for the level of play we've had. It's something we need to take care of this week."
The Columbus Crew are winless and have scored only once this season in MLS. Are they a dangerous threat?
"Yeah, of course! It's always been a great match-up. They don't like us and we don't like them. It's an Eastern Conference rivalry. They're desperate and they're going to come flying. Hopefully, we can stifle that with some good play early and some early goals. We've got to keep them down. If we don't, they're going to hang around and be trouble for us. I know that they're dying for points and they're always going to work hard."
How important are these next three games in establishing this team this season?
"Just as important as any other three games in a row. I don't think that they're crucial, but they're three games where we can pick up points. These nine points would be great. We need to get back to defending our home and not losing at RFK, ever. There's no excuse to. We got great fan support and we should take advantage of that."
Is the Columbus game at home a must win?
"Yeah! That's how we look at pretty much everything. Not so much a 'must win', but we're going in expecting to win. We're not going to be satisfied with anything other than a win. If we don't win, the season isn't over. But, that's what we expect to do."
With all the problems that Columbus is having, if DC United does not get a positive result, what effect would that have on the team?
"On the other side of the coin, they are a desperate team, and they could come out and play good. Maybe they're up for a break-out game. We have to be ready for anything. We just have to come out and play the same way we've been playing. Hopefully, the goals will take care of themselves early and we take care of business in the second half."
Can you assess Adu's first start and 80 minute performance last Saturday against San Jose?
"I thought Freddy did OK. I thought that he had a couple of moments that he did good things. At times, I think that he was a little bit overwhelmed. But he's still doing it. A couple of plays, here and there, he's pretty dangerous."
What are your thoughts on DC United's forwards?
"I don't want to get into comparing these guys, but I think our forwards have done a good job this year, including Freddy. I think Alecko Eskandarian has had a good start. He hasn't had the goals to show for it, but I thought he's done pretty well in the first couple of games."
What is the biggest challenge in your shifting from wing to a central position?
"It's been better in a lot of aspects because it forces you to be a part of the game for ninety minutes. Out wide, a lot of times the ball's on the other side. You saw last year that I wasn't as involved for whatever reason - the opponents can shut you down a little bit easier out wide, or maybe the ball was going up the left side a lot. It keeps you in tune. The organization part of it is probably the most difficult, trying to keep the guys together, and communications is the key. It's stuff like that."
"I think physically it's an easier position for me. It's not as much sprint work, and you have a lot more help around you. Whereas, if you get caught on the wings, you're basically screwed."
Nick Rimado - Goalkeeper
How nice is it to have three home games in a row?
"Very nice! It's always difficult to play on the road, especially in San Jose. By coming home and playing in front of our fans, it gives us a little more spirit and boosts up our attitude. I think we're a little more confident at home. It's crucial for us to get some points here. We know the field here better than the opposition. We're very comfortable here. You got your whole day set, and then you play the game at night."
Was the draw with San Jose a confidence booster for the team?
"It's definitely a boost that we know we can come back on teams when we're down 1-0. But again, we wanted three points. That's what we're expecting on Saturday, and we're going to work hard. These next three games are important, and we expect nothing less than three points in each."
How important are these three games?
"These games are very important, especially the game against Columbus because they are in our division. We want to get up on them as much as we can. Kansas City is a very good team. We just want to get three points. Being at home is to our advantage, and hopefully we can do that."
Although Columbus has not won, do you think they are dangerous?
"They're a very dangerous team. People say that they are the hardest working team in the league. We've just got to out work them, play our soccer and do what we want at home."
Are you concerned that they scored only one goal and might have a break out game?
"Not at all. I think that they're a good team and they've been unlucky. They're going to come out at us. They're going to try to prove something - that they are a good team. Just because they've only scored one goal doesn't mean anything."