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November 21, 2010

Conor Casey Pablo Mastroeni Gary Smith



THE MODERATOR: We're going to start with Coach Gary Smith of the Colorado Rapids and M.V.P. Conor Casey. We will be joined shortly by Pablo Mastroeni. Coach?
COACH GARY SMITH: I think the first thing to say, you know, is to pay tribute to a very good Dallas team. I thought the game was extremely competitive tonight and there is no doubt in my mind the make-up of that group and obviously the season they've had, they will be witnessing these finals in the not too distant future, I'm sure.
The second thing I want to say is that I'm extremely proud to be the coach of such a wonderful group of players, such a spirited group of players and such a hard-working staff. The coaching staff that we have at the club have been absolutely spot-on.
Thirdly, I am overjoyed for this guy sitting next to me, to raise that Cup and to finally sample, you know, some success for offensively his endeavors, taking nothing away from any of the other players, Pablo has been at the club a long time, and he's experienced a lot of difficulties, and to get himself a winner's medal, he's wonderful, and I'm so glad that I've been here to see it.
THE MODERATOR: Opening comment from the players?
PABLO MASTROENI: Um, I'm just excited. The feeling hasn't really set in, but what has is the resolve that we've showed all year, the ability to come back from tough situations, coming into the locker room and the tone that Gary set was nothing more than continue to do what you're doing. The belief in one another, the camaraderie we had in the group.
I think these are cliches, and when you're winning it's easy to say, but even when we were losing I thought we had a team that we haven't had here in the past. But to finally see it come full circle and for the guys to be rewarded with that Championship to me means everything.
Like Gary said about the players, the same goes with the staff and their commitment to getin' things as best they can to prepare us for every game and really being a top-notch staff has made our play a lot easier and coming into work that much more enjoyable. It's been a collective group effort and I'm excited that we were able to hoist that trophy today.
CONOR CASEY: They covered pretty much everything. First and foremost to -- I've never won anything, ever, so it's a fantastic feeling and to do it with someone like Pablo who has had such a storied career and never won and to give so much to the club, no one deserves it more.
We have a hard, hard working crew and it was a battle, and like it's been all year we kept battling it out, and it just feels like we really earned it today. Today our backs were against the wall for a lot of the game but we showed our resolve.

Q. This is an extraordinarily resourceful win and nothing epitomized it more than the goal you scored, Conor. Can you describe how it worked?
CONOR CASEY: The ball went out Jamie, he took the guy one-on-one, did well, tried to make an ear post run, and I got caught up between the keeper and the defender, it was on the ground, under his arm, and no one could get to it but my toe, so I flicked it in?

Q. Which foot was it?
CONOR CASEY: Right foot.

Q. Gary as you thought about how this game, as it turned out and you thought about it being physical, is this how you hoped it would play out?
COACH GARY SMITH: Um, we've been here for the last two days, and the pitch has been lively, it's been difficult to play on. I think the staff has tried to do their best today to make sure that esthetically it looked good; however, it's lively and quick to play on.
It was always going to be tough if the game was too open, with guys like, you know, David Ferreira, who just have the run of the game. This sport is about adaptin' and I think you've seen our team tonight adapt extremely well. We've limited a very talented group of players to next to nothing, we've still been capable ourselves. However, I'm not sure it was the greatest viewing for fans, because it was such a cut and thrust game.
Now, did I want it that way? Not necessarily, but I tell you what now, this group is capable of mixin' it with some of the more physical and bigger sides and they kept the ball playin' when necessary. For me that's a good balance in a group.

Q. Pablo, can you talk about what this means to this organization after the difficult years to come back with a Championship?
PABLO MASTROENI: I think obviously not having won in many years, being knocked out of the playoffs the last few it's been a struggle, and we were a club still trying to find an identity, and that goes for a lot of the clubs, especially the smaller market teams, and it seems like you have to win something, you have to win the whole thing in order to even be heard.
I think this year we've kind of identified that, you know, the two guys up front, Conor and Omar have been the catalysts to everything we've done going forward, and that has alleviated the pressure from everyone else knowing that the other team has to focus on these two guys. It's exciting times now, we had a deep group, some of the guys that didn't even dress are capable of coming in and helping us out, and the future for this club is now looking brighter, and I think that was dependent on us winning tonight, and we did that so I'm really excited.

Q. (No microphone.)

COACH GARY SMITH: I don't write 'em down so I can't repeat it. Maybe it's better to ask the guys whether it was motivational. To be honest at halftime I didn't think there was too much going wrong. The front guys did a fabulous job of dropping deeper than they normally would to get pressure on the deep mid-field player, and I thought the backfield guys did a great job of keeping the distances right to stay on David Ferreira, who is an exceptional player.
You know when he starts going wider and deeper you know that you did your job properly. There wasn't a whole lot of things going wrong, one or two individual things that most of the guys corrected in the second period and we had a little bit of lady luck on our side well. I think over the course of the season you earn that, and by the way we should have had a penalty. (Chuckles.)

Q. Conor your -- was very short but is there anything special about winning in this city where you used to play? And did you guys notice that the neutral fans were giving you guys the support and not Dallas?
CONOR CASEY: Definitely noticed that, feels good to win, period, here, not matter where. Yeah.

Q. Gary, could you talk about the job that Pablo and Jeff did in the center of the field tonight. Seemed like they were effective there.
COACH GARY SMITH: I don't know that you can put it down to any one individual. Those two guys in the middle there are as good as any two midfielders in the league. I've said it before, they're two-way players, they're not just holding players, they do join in. They're ultra competitive, and that's always good for any team.
I thought the back four got their distances right, they were aggressive, they attacked the ball where possible, that always helps. The midfield guys did their job in getting good screens on and for me the early period in the game, which is always an important one, I felt we won more second phase balls and therefore had a little better possession.
Like I said, though, it wasn't probably the best-looking game in the world but what we knew at that point was that momentum was going our way. I'll go back to it, the front two guys also from a defensive standpoint make these guys lives easier because if they get caught up the field then the middle two get dragged all over the place. I thought, you know, their attitude toward their work, you know, their clear-minded approach to areas to recovering was very good, and like I said, there were one or two spells where we were under pressure and they had some, you know, last chances.
But if you look at what we create over the course of the game -- but like I said, we deserved the penalty. The free kick was a wonderful effort from Jeff, and Kevin makes a terrific save and we score two goals, it's not a bad return.

Q. (No microphone.)
PABLO MASTROENI: I think Gary just summed it up. The key was the two guys up front just taking away that deep line midfielder in Daniel Hernandez and allowing us to get screens, and when David Ferreira and others got on the ball it was easy to step up and press knowing that they were going to be to their center backs and not necessarily to Daniel because they were being marked by the guys up front. Collectively as Gary said the most important thing we wanted to focus on was making the lines nice and tight and the back line did a great job of holding that line and making it tough to play in there and so we made the field awfully small for those guys.

Q. (No microphone.)
PABLO MASTROENI: No, I haven't seen him.
COACH GARY SMITH: Listen, this is the second game in a month that Mr. Kroenke has been to. He seemed excited after the game, of course proud to be in charge of such a wonderful group of people and a winning team. But in answer to your first question -- what was it?

Q. Kandji.
COACH GARY SMITH: Omar pulled his thigh; he had a slight thigh strain. And it was a forced move, and his contribution was important, however brief, because it was the winning goal.

Q. (No microphone.)
CONOR CASEY: I thought both of them did a great job, we didn't have barely any chances. We battled our game, it was competitive, I thought he played well, I thought both of them played well, our defenders played well. They had a good game, you know, they have a very good team.
(No audio.)

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH GARY SMITH: Without scoring the winning goal?
CONOR CASEY: You personally or -- (Chuckles.)
COACH GARY SMITH: I'm thinking because it was an "own" goal? Honestly I don't mind how they come. If they're winners, it doesn't matter. I think the overriding thoughts have to be for somebody to score a goal they must be under pressure to make a mistake. You don't get too many that volley one in from 40 yards unopposed, so I'm pleased that the guys were able to, in that extra time mount, you know, enough of an attack to make the difference.

Q. Gary, when Mac came off after getting that goal, what kind of shifting did you have to do to keep things tight and get through the final stretch?
COACH GARY SMITH: At that point there wasn't a lot, you know, we're down to 10 men. The group is set, Conor dropped in a little deeper. I thought there was going to be a bit of a rally on their side anyway because they conceded that we lost a player and it made that more apparent and at that point I thought the defenders did their job admirably.
Big Julian came on and got his head on three or four, either long deliveries or crosses. I thought Drew was, again, exceptional, along with Marvell, and with the guys in front of them, the midfield is so genuine. We've always got a chance in a game. And for anyone out there that didn't back us, I pity ya, because any money I had, if I knew that every time a side walked out in a pitch, they were going to give everything they got in a pinch, you ain't going to be far away.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time.

End of FastScripts

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