Sounders Insider

Colorado coach: Sounders out-competed us

Here's some of what the Colorado Rapids had to say today after they were eliminated from playoff contention with a 4-1 loss to the Sounders:

Coach Pablo MastroeniOn today’s game:I think they out-competed us today and that’s one thing we’ve done really well this year - being able to compete. They’ve got some class players that can make a big difference on that team but the first 15 minutes of the game we didn’t set the kind of tone that we needed to set to play against these kind of teams and really make it difficult for them. We were just chasing the game from the beginning. The mindset wasn’t there from the get-go and that was the disappointing part. There’s enough blame to go around and it starts right here. I don’t blame anyone, I look at it like what can I do better as a coach, what can my staff do better.

On the mindset of the players:Be able to pass the ball, not over dribble... If I had told you how the week went in training you would have thought we’d come out flying. I think there were a couple bad decisions on the ball. Credit to them, they’re good players and they make you defend. If you’re not in sync, as we learned, they’ll make you pay. The week in training was really good and you would have thought we’d have a much better start to the game but it’s about game day and making sure those first couple passes are complete, and those first tackles that you make really set the tone against a team like this – we weren’t able to do that. We found ourselves chasing it quite often.On the confidence of the team and moving forward:You can’t deny human nature. These guys aren’t playing with the most confidence - how can you when you haven’t won a game in two months. It makes it that much more difficult. My job the past two months has been to be very upbeat, really positive and focus on the good things that we’re doing. We’ve had some good performances sporadically mixed in there but, it’s that piano on your back. You start saying “can we ever win?” I only know one way and that’s just to keep working hard, keep going. I think we’ve got a great group and I think we’ve shown that this year, we’re capable of playing against the big teams. Unfortunately today, we just got off to a bad start.

On Zat Knight's debut:Zat brought a bit of calm and a bit of experience to the group and that was pretty evident with the way things went. It kept the game more in front of us as opposed to letting them get behind which was one of the points I made at halftime. So how do we now rebound here with the right mindset and attack the next game with that. I think Zat coming in did sure some things up but you can’t rely on one person to make that kind of difference.

On Clint Irwin:The moment that I felt, and Chris Sharpe felt, that his performance day in and day out in training was at a certain level – like we said at the beginning – he’ll get another opportunity. He comes into a game, and it’s a difficult game and we asked him to make a lot of big saves. He came up with a few, but we find ourselves in this conundrum. For me, Clint has proven that he’s more than capable of being that stalwart in goal.

Defender Zat KnightOn the results:The first 45, it was frustrating to watch from the side. I felt we kind of gifted them a few goals. I know they have some good movement with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi, but I felt we could have done a bit better. I know it’s that time in the season where the boys’ heads are down, they haven’t won in a long time and they’re playing against a very good team. It was hard to pick themselves up, but from the sideline it was very frustrating.

On what he sees in the team:You can see, any team - no matter who you are – you could be the best team in the world. If you’ve gone on a winless streak the way they have, your confidence is going to be down. They’ve got a good spirit. Everybody spoke about that spirit and the boys are trying. They’ve got a young team. It would be nice for them to have one or two more senior players around to help them through, but that’s not what it is at the moment and hopefully next season they can recruit one or two to help them, because I feel like they have got some good players in there.

On being vocal with the younger players:That just comes naturally to me. The last team I left I was a captain there. I’ve was a captain at Fulham. I’m experienced and I’ve learned as a defender that you have to be vocal. Being 6-foot-6 it would be a shame if I never spoke. When I was young, I had senior players doing that to me so hopefully I can do that for Shane and the rest of the boys.

On how he felt playing today:It was nice to get the 45 in. I haven’t played in a while as has been well documented. I’ve had a good few days training, it was nice to get the 45 minutes. I was kind of being headstrong and wanted to start the game but the manager was more like “I don’t want you to blow up and obviously we had a bad 45 minutes so just get out there and do what you can.” It was nice to try and keep the score down a little bit.

Defender Dillon PowersOn whether the losses are harder to handle now as the captain:Yeah, I think so. You can kind of feel the extra responsibility, but having the said that I think the older guys have made it clear that they're here to lean on and take some of the responsibility.

On what Zat Knight adds to the team:I think he has a lot of experience and he has a lot of respect, especially from defenders. You seem him every day, he's working with, especially the center backs. Especially Shane [O’Neill]. ‘This is how it should be done, this is how I do it,’ I think Shane is learning a lot already and he'll tell you the same thing. I think he keeps us pretty organized.

On his new contract and continuing with the club:I said it before, but from the day I walked in the door it's this club. From top to bottom I feel like there's a real desire to grow and be a top organization. I think there's a realization that we're not quite there yet but I'm excited to be a key part of growing it into what it can be. It's something that I felt like I did in my time in college and I'm excited to do it again.

On injuries, suspensions, etc. to keep players out of the lineup adding to the losing streak:Yeah, I think that's a true. Especially with a guy like Drew who's been a leader on this team for so long and he brings some intangible things to the team. Everyone says injuries aren't an excuse and that's the mentality, you know, it doesn't matter, next man up and that's a good mentality to have but it does make it hard when you have some constant changes and guys in and out. To answer your question, I think yes.

Goalkeeper Clint IrwinOn returning to the starting lineupI was happy to be back out there. Unfortunately, the result wasn't in our favor. That's kind of been the story for the last however many games. It's good to be back out there, I wish it could have been a win but we just have to get ready for the next game. There’s nothing we can do about it now.

On the coaching staff giving him the nod:They just said, "You're in the starting 11, get ready to play" and that's what I did.

On his performance:I wish some of those saves could have come earlier in the game to keep it closer. Came up with a couple of saves in the second half, at that point though the game is already gone and it's just damage control. I thought I did alright, but it doesn't really matter with the score the way it is.

On having Zat and his veteran presence on the field:Yeah, it helped a lot I think. We were just a lot more organized, he was talking to everyone around him, keeping them in good spots, and at the same time playing well himself. He made a huge difference as soon as he came on. I know we gave up one goal but that was improvement from the first half. I thought he was just a great presence back there and he was listening to other people around him to and playing at a high level. It was really good to have him back there. I think he's someone who's played at such a high level that he is able to take on the information and give it out to other people and still play at the same time. That's something that, with Drew [Moor] out, he's another one of those guys who can do that. So I think that's something that really helps guys around him. He's able to make people better around him and I think we saw that in the second half.