COL, SJ preview Eastern Conference Championship (conf. call transcript)
In the first of a two-part teleconference series, media members had the opportunity to speak with Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith and team captain Pablo Mastroeni, as well as San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and midfielder Bobby Convey, ahead of the Eastern Conference Championship in Colorado on Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET, FSC). A full transcription follows. Wednesday's teleconference will feature the LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan and Bruce Arena alongside FC Dallas' Schellas Hyndman and Daniel Hernandez.
With our first day back after the victory at the weekend, the guys have
had a couple of days to rest some weary limbs, and everybody looked as you
might well imagine, pretty enthused and confident after the weekend's events.
The morning was pretty straightforward and low‑key
to be honest. You know, just
making sure that everybody is still in good shape and we don't get any physical
issues on top of such a tough weekend.
Tomorrow will be a little bit more strenuous and probably incorporate
some more structural stuff towards the game at the weekend.
All in all, it's a very buoyant atmosphere and
I'm probably not telling you anything you wouldn't imagine after such an
exciting victory. We are in good
health. We are looking forward to
Our form at home's been very, very good this
season. The games that haven't
quite gone our way have been extremely tight and I think we have continued to
make our home‑field advantage, or to take that advantage to a better level than
even last year.
So you know, we'll be looking to try and
reinforce that at the weekend. But
we also know that San Jose, I'm sure, will be very confident after the fabulous
win in New York. And looking at
some of their stats across the season, their away form has been very decent.
And I would think that given the environment
they are coming into, they will feel pretty decent about the way things have
gone for them, but I'm sure they will also realize this isn't an easy place to
come. We will be doing our absolute utmost to make the game as tough as
possible; along with obviously the environment that is always a very difficult
one for incoming teams.
MASTROENI: I think from our
perspective here, we excited as a team.
Obviously it's been a couple of years since we've been in the
playoffs. It's great to see such
positive work in the preseason, and the belief in one another, actually come to
fruition. Now we find ourselves in the playoffs.
So from that perspective, it's a player's dream
to see it play out like you write it up on the board in preseason and it kind
of plays through like a good movie script.
We are happy with where we are at, and I think
there's a lot of work to be done still.
And so everyone comes in every day ready to work, and that attitude has
not changed at all.
As far as San Jose, like you said, I played
with Ramiro Corrales in Miami, a great player, he's been a great veteran in
this league for many years. And so
you know, he brings a lot of leadership to that team and you have a guy like
Bobby Convey who is reinventing himself and coming into his own as an
experienced player. Obviously in that San Jose victory, he was instrumental in
everything they did.
This is a team that cannot be taken lightly, [that]
has proven time and time again, that they are a resilient group. So we are looking at this like one of
our greatest challenges of the season, and we are preparing as such.
The vibe is in the Denver area is such that
everyone is interested in what's going on now, and we are excited to be hosting
a Western [sic] Conference final and hopefully do everything we can to get the
result that we feel we deserve.
How do you plan to contain Chris Wondolowski?
SMITH: You make it sound like
he's a one‑man team. I would think
that he's very complimentary to his teammates for the service he's been
supplied with all year. He's one
part and probably the pinnacle and peak of that group, and he's had a wonderful
season. He's in confident form and
looks in a confident mood.
However, he's just one player, and I would
think if, as we have done, on a number of occasions on our home field, we can
force the issue and get on the front foot, then it negates an awful lot of what
any opposing team can do coming into this place.
Given the opportunity, I'm sure he's going to
try and take full advantage of it.
But we have a very strong and disciplined outfit. The supply in to Chris will be a feature
of the game, and we'll certainly be trying to stop his assaults.
Most important of all, I think it's about us
than them. Chris has had a great
time this year, but we'll be doing our utmost to make sure it doesn't [on
You have just done everything in U.S. soccer and I wanted to address
this to you. How impressive from
your vantage point or perspective is it for the Quakes to go this far as a
third‑year expansion team?
MASTROENI: Well, interesting
question, you know, this league is ‑‑ since the time I've been in here,
the parity has been remarkable.
You know, any team can win on any given day in this league, unlike the
Premiership where you have teams spend ridiculous amounts of money usually dominate
the headlines and are in the upper tier of the league.
I think coming in '98, Chicago had an amazing
team and they were an expansion team that year. And if I'm not mistaken, they went on to win it. So
the fact that they are where they are after three years doesn't strike me as
something that's out of the order being that this league has always been
founded on many mysteries of teams going where they go because of one catalyst
or another. So I'm not surprised,
especially with the type of players that they have where they work hard and they
battle and they never give up.
How would you describe them?
If you know, if you've seen them enough, the team, as many MLS teams,
players come, players go and by the playoff time you finally see a unit out
there. How would you describe this
SMITH: Well, with regards to
the group that Frank's put together there … the couple of years that I've been
involved, it's easy to see when certain coaches are respected and revered in
certain places because of the efficiency of their work.
And it was easy to see quickly that Frank
always had a plan. I'm sure he'll
have one at the weekend. But also,
the additions to the group are incrementally better and the squad gets stronger
and they have more competition. We've seen, I'm sure, before all of us, where
teams reach a peak very quickly but there's no substance to that group. The foundations that they are built on
are very shaky and subsequently, they fall just as rapidly as they rise.
This group has come together over the course of
two or three seasons; this is the first year in the three … that their success
has come through. But if you look
at the players in the group, it's gone very heavily for good forwards; forwards
that do have some history and background.
He's got a lot of pace and physicality around the group. And you know, they really are a very
genuine and hard‑working group.
But on top of that, because of the glut of
forwards that they have, they are always very capable of scoring goals. Just recently they have added Geovanni
as a DP and it just enhances the creativity within that group. And you know all in all, it really
wasn't a surprise. We played them
preseason over in England and straightaway, you can see the bodies that were
available for them, and when they started making their changes, the group
didn't get any weaker.
Lots of times, you can see the strength of the
team by who they have got on the bench; and regularly they have got four or
five guys on that bench that would probably get into most MLS teams.
Gary, just a general question about the playoffs, as the league looks to
add new teams next year, would you like to happily expand the number of playoff
teams? Is eight enough? And what would you like to see, a single
table or conferences?
SMITH: Well, with regards to
the playoffs, I mean it has to be a challenge to get into them, that’s part of
being in the playoffs, and I would think this year is more difficult than any
other, just because of the amount of teams that are in the league and the
places that are [available].
As we move forward, to get into that post‑season
and be one of those eight teams competing for the MLS Cup, it's got to be a
So I don't honestly think that those [eight]
places need to be extended or expanded.
You know, we are thoroughly excited to be where we are, and believe that
we are moving forward in gaining one of those post‑season berths; so don't give
With regards to a single table, honestly, I
think as the league is expanding, I think it would be a better route to
go. I understand some of the
reasons for keeping the Eastern and Western Conference, but all in all now, we
are going to play each other home and away.
It's not like even when I came into the league,
what was it, 2 1/2 years ago, where you actually played some of your closest teams
on three occasions. And Pablo will
probably tell you, when they are playing four games against each other in one
season, it is home and away. It
doesn't make any difference.
And I do think that the Supporters’ Shield
should have a bit more attached to it, because all in all, I think everywhere
else in the world, that team that is the most consistent and finishes at the
top of the single table overall, is the best and most consistent team in the
We are in a Cup competition right now, and if
you ask me, this is the most important thing going on, of course, because we
are in it.
But I think most coaches and managers will say
that to put a group together and to battle out through the season and be the
best team, is a particularly big honor.
What would reaching the MLS cup mean to you this late in your career?
You know, I think it's ‑‑ obviously it would be a big milestone in my
career obviously as a player, when you come into a league, your goal, along
with your personal goals, the pinnacle of the sport is to not only reach it,
but to win it.
And so every preseason, you set that goal for
yourself to do whatever you can to help the team to reach that MLS Cup, and not
only reach it, but win it.
And for me this year, it's been the year where
it's probably been the most realistic feat, and you know, in the years past,
where we have reached the playoffs, there's always been a little bit of doubt
for: Do we belong here; did we do
enough to get here. And I think
this year, there's no question in my mind or anyone's mind in this club, that
believed that we shouldn't be here, and now the fact that we are here, we have
to do something with it.
For me, it would be a great milestone but more
importantly it would be great for all of the hard work that we have dedicated
to the cause from game one in preseason to where we find ourselves today.
Gary, can you talk a little bit about the growth in Omar Cummings' game,
and what that's meant to everything that you've accomplished that year?
SMITH: Well, season on season,
not only have his stats improved, but [Cummings] I think has grown. And I think more than anything, the
experiences of playing regularly and week‑in, week‑out, being part of the
competition that takes place, and I think he has learned an awful lot about
himself the last two seasons.
The group, growing and improving along with his
own personal improvement, I think has added to his game. And also the fact that the guys that
have remained as the sort of backbone of the group and the additions have come
in, I do honestly think that the players have a fabulous spirit and rapport
amongst themselves. It just aids
his product at the end of the day.
But a lot of credit has to go to the
individual, of course. He works
hard. You know, he's daily working
on his individual game, and moments within that, and while there are still
times that we can all scratch our head and go, what happened there, I think
there's more and more occasions that we are seeing something really exciting on
the end of some of our play, rather than something that just happens out of
And again, that's due to the player's
understanding and now the team and the quality he has around him.
Pablo, can you talk a little about at addition of Jeff Larentowicz to
your midfield and how that's helped you guys?
MASTROENI: You know, I think
Jeff's been a great addition to the team.
Along with all of the stuff that he brings onto the field, I think just
the fact that he's been a part of a franchise in New England that has
repeatedly made it to the playoffs and finals has brought that extra bit of
belief to the group, along with Brian Mullan, who joined us late in the season.
So we feel like we have a formidable group, but
more importantly, we feel like we take great pride in the midfield to be hard
to play through, and Jeff brings an extra bit of grit. He's just a good partner in to play
alongside, just a real honest player, and more importantly, everyone that plays
in that midfield is pretty selfless.
So he's been a great addition. He's a silent leader, and he's a guy
that has definitely impacted our season this year.
Wondering if you can describe your emotions and your thoughts as you sat
in the hotel room in Columbus watching the New York/San Jose game knowing that
one of the things that hung in the balance was a home game for you, if you
could get your business done in Columbus.
And then, also, what you thought of the decisive nature of that game
that the San Jose ‑‑ they really took New York apart and won emphatically.
SMITH: You and I speak an awful
lot, John [Meyer], and so when I tell you that I don't agree with what you're
saying there, I'm sure you'll have a little chuckle.
I thought San Jose went out with a very
aggressive lineup to try and win the game. They started off extremely well, and
then that early goal, as we've seen in these playoffs in a couple of occasions,
and in our game, as well, makes a big difference. You know, the team, getting back into the game, sometimes
takes their foot off the gas, or just feels as though that pressure has been
released. I actually thought that
New York controlled good periods of the game without actually making as many
clear‑cut chances at San Jose.
However, what I do have to say is that one or
two of the San Jose players on the day, were the difference. And Bobby Convey
was outstanding. His contribution
to the game, I think along with Wondolowski's winner, was as big as anything
else that happened in that game.
The big difference here is, San Jose will come
to us at the weekend on a clean slate.
And while Frank has an awful lot of forwards in his group … what he
knows is that if he plays too many forwards on that pitch, and they don't get
it quite right, they will be very vulnerable to a team that have been, you
know, almost dominating at home for the majority of the season.
The game that we watched was exciting on
Thursday. You know, I tip my hat
to the result that San Jose got because that is not an easy place to go and get
a result. But all in all, I still
felt as though there were many occasions in that game where the balance may
well have tipped in the other direction.
I can remember Mehdi Ballouchy's opportunity, and if he scores, it's a
completely different complexion on the game.
The young boy up front hits the post in a
wonderful individual moment, and I'm not sure Jon Busch knew too much about
it. Very fine lines. And we saw it at the weekend in our
game, as well, and I have no doubt we'll see it in this weekend. But you know, all in all, there's some
decisions to contemplate coming here and I think you know that, as well, John.
Just a question really about where this fits in in terms of your career
as a coach. Obviously you're a
game away from a big final, pretty early n your career and I wonder as well if
you can talk about who have been influences on you during your time as an
assistant coach and player and so on, that's given you ideas about coaching and
so on and whether Martin O'Neill was a particular influence or not. Wonder if you can talk about those
early days as well a bit.
SMITH: Well, I'm not sure
you've got time for me to go right back to the early days. But guys like Martin O'Neill are
unforgettable. In the early days
of my playing career, they had such an impact on the way that they conduct
themselves, there's no way of forgetting that.
Moving further forward, in my coaching realm,
Terry Burton who is currently at Cardiff and when I first broke into the
coaching at Wimbledon, was then assistant and first team coach to Joe at
Wimbledon. A fabulous coach,
wonderful way about him. Great
ideas. And that whole system
there, and what I found in a very short space of time as a coach already, if
you can get together a group of people and virtues that we don't often talk
about in football too much, like loyalty and trust, you know, give you very
nice foundations to work from. And
it's a great opportunity to throw ideas around with people that are not going
to walk out of the room and be snipping or back biting behind your back.
But getting back to the question, Stewart
Robson was there, Stewart played at Arsenal and commentary at West Ham was a
real bit of a revolutionary coach.
He had fantastic ideas and would conjure up sessions that I had never
seen before, based on, you know, maybe a build‑up to a game or a failure in a game
that he wanted to work on. Even further back than that, Ray Harford when I was
So there's plenty of people that over the years
have had an impact on my personality and even the way to address people and
conduct yourself with, you know, senior players and experienced players.
With regards to my own future, and I mean this
with all sincerity, my job is here.
I've said this before. You
know, my main aim would be to win some silverware with the Rapids.
Wherever ‑‑ wherever my career takes me
after that, I would always feel as though I'd missed a fabulous opportunity to
have some success, because the group that we have now, and the coaching staff
that are here, not only deserve some success and to be able to celebrate what
they have put together here, it would be an absolute travesty at this point to
not be able to somewhere along the way, raise the Cup aloft, and the gentleman
in front of me (Mastroeni) is the person that deserves me more than anyone.
I've honestly thought not much further
ahead. I'm excited about what we
are in. The potential of this club
and where it was when I first came in and where we are now, is you know, so
exhilarating that I would be a fool to look outside it.
YALLOP: Well, obviously very
excited to be in the final four of the league, and I think that the series we
had against New York was exciting.
For us to get through that was not easy. So we grew as a unit.
We believe in ourselves and we are looking forward to the game on the
So, yeah, things are good with the team. We have trained well this week and we
are just all gearing up for that big game on Saturday.
CONVEY: I think Frank said it,
it was a good week in training and exciting for everyone. It was a good series in New York for
us, and we had a game plan and we stuck to it.
Like you said, it's going to be difficult in
Colorado with the altitude and so it’ll be good to get there a couple days
early to train. We are all looking
forward to it and everyone is excited to be one game away from the final.
Are you handling this one game final differently in terms of when you
travel the team into Colorado than you would normally do because of the
Not so much the altitude.
It's more making sure we don't have any travel worries the day before
the game. I think we are going in
sort of Thursday evening, late‑ish, to just get to bed and have a good day
there of light practice and just get ready for the game.
So we are going a little bit early than we
normally do because of the enormity of the game. We can't be sort of stuck in an airport or be waiting for
flights with a big game coming up.
So that's why we are doing that on Thursday.
And Bobby … what are your feelings about how you're perceived in terms
of your performances on the field?
CONVEY: I'm excited about how
the year has gone. I'm happy with
how I've played and how kind of we've played as a team.
I'm just enjoying playing soccer again. It's been a lot of fun this
season. It's exciting to get in
the playoffs, exciting to be with a bunch of guys that you really like and can
win things with, and if I go with a national team, that's fine. If I don't, you know, all I can do is
control how I play and let that speak for itself.
Tomorrow you are in the running for the Comeback Player of the Year
Award, and should you win that, I guess, one, what would that mean to you given
your past year and just the past two years, and also moving forward?
For me, I'm excited to be up for any award. Obviously it's a great thing to be up for an award, and you
know, with my being injured, it's great to be able to be back and play at a high
level again. I'm just excited to
be out on the field. If I win,
that will be great. If not, there's
a couple other guys in it that deserve it, as well.
Do you feel like you're miles away from that injury? Obviously that was definitely a
setback, but do you feel like that's far in the past now with your current
position and with the current success that that's something that you've
definitely put in the back of your brain?
Yeah, 100 percent. I've
only missed I think like five games in the last two seasons. So my knee is definitely behind
me. The only disappointing thing
is it ended my career at England earlier than I would have wanted, but I'm happy
here in San Jose and really enjoying playing back in MLS.
Are you guys drawing a lot of inspiration from Real Salt Lake last year;
if you're really thinking that what they did last year, coming from the eight
seed like you did, or you are going right now, is an inspiration for you guys.
YALLOP: You've got to tip your
hat to Salt Lake, what they did last year, it's not easy doing that. We ended up 8th in the rankings, even
on points with Colorado and only a few points behind a lot of teams in the
We don't think we are miles behind people in
our performances this season. I
think that a lot is said about our seeding and whether you're eighth or first
and all that stuff. We don't look
at it that way. It's a brand new
season and we have had two good results or a good series against New York, we
got through, got a tough game against Colorado coming up, and we'll be wanting
to try and win.
For us to sort of think about last year, that's
over for Salt Lake, too. They had
a great year last year and did really, really well in what they did.
But we are just concentrating on what we are
trying to do this year. We have
been talking about making sure that we have the right mind‑set every game we
play. After a poor performance, we
tended to really pick ourselves up and play well and fight and I think that
that's been our spirit all year.
I think nothing's going to change, but looking
forward to the game on the weekend and not favor anybody and we'll come out and
play that way.
Last year you played Colorado back‑to‑back games and both of them ended
in rather controversial circumstances.
As it turned out, you made the playoffs and now you spin ahead 14 months
and you're both not only in the playoffs but one game away from the final. Can you give me your perspective of how
[the Rapids] have changed, how they have improved?
YALLOP: Yeah, I like Colorado's
team. I think they are very well
balanced. They have obviously
dynamic players up front, but not only up front, but wide. And certainly are very athletic at the
back now with Marvell Wynne's addition.
I think Larentowicz has made a big difference to them as well in the
middle of the pack. And I like
them. They are a good side. They move the ball well. They are dangerous and difficult to
contain, especially at their place.
So we have our hands full, that's for sure,
this in this game. But Gary has
done a good job, too, of making sure they stayed focused and get their results
and when they needed to this year.
As any coach will tell you in this league, it's
not an easy league to coach in, and I think he's done a fine job of that. They deserve to be there. I thought they looked good all
year. And it wasn't a surprise
that he this made it and 14 months later, we had two ties, two penalty kicks
against us late. But that's last
year so, we are just looking forward to this game on the weekend.
Gary mentioned it earlier in his interviews,
that anything can happen in games, early goals, different things happen in
matches. We have just got to be
ready for anything, and adjust or do well once that thing happens.
Your impressions on how San Jose has changed from a year ago because
you've added the Brazilians; are you a more varied team because you have those
CONVEY: I think so. We have gotten better from last year
and added better players, and I think as a team, we are much more together and
have a better mentality this year where we don't want to lose and we want to
try and win every game.
I think it's been growing throughout the whole
year, we have gotten better, and really have come together now here at the ultimate
time at the end of the season.
Gary mentioned earlier that supplying Chris would be a key the to team
and your experience supplying Chris in the first game against New York; what is
your comment on that?
YALLOP: Well, I thought I got
some undue schtick from some of the [MLSsoccer.com] guys about the tactics we
had, but as a coach, what you do, you do a game plan and hope it works out.
Chris had three chances of scoring that game at
home, and didn't. He had two
chances to score in the New York game and scored one at New York, away. So for me, it's about adjusting and not
worrying about what the last game was.
Chris will play in a position that he can score goals, whether it's wide
or up front or wherever we put him.
So Chris has found a way to find the net in a
number of positions and he's very good at finding open space and drifting and
making it difficult to pick him up.
Obviously you saw in the game, the goal at the weekend, fantastic
service by Bobby but a great run by Chris.
So he'll find his spaces, wherever he plays,
and we are excited to have him here.
He had a great year and I feel really proud to be his coach and
hopefully he gets the MVP.
Any updates on Jason Hernandez' injury or he's 100 percent?
Well, he's still having treatment but we expect him to play, yes.
The MLS Cup is in Toronto this year, you have two teams, one in
Vancouver and one in Montréal entering the league; drawing on your experience
as at former manager of the Canadian National Team, what's the state of
professional soccer in Canada?
FRANK YALLOP: Well, I think it's fantastic to have
three professional, full‑blown MLS teams in Canada. So very exciting. … The U.S. showed that you get a
professional league and you really put money into the program that you can do
great things. So hopefully the
Canadian Soccer Association can do that and really make sure that they fund the
right areas, which is the national team, and make sure that we can build and be
a lot better and be more competitive.
But it's great that obviously the final is in
Toronto. Vancouver is joining and
Montréal is joining the following year.
So good times. Hopefully it
really turns into Canada doing well in the World Cup qualifying.
Just to follow up, is there a sort of, in your mind, a blueprint on how
to make the most of it? … What do you see as sort of being the
keys and how important is patience?
YALLOP: Hopefully we can
attract more Canadian players playing out of the country back to playing
MLS. This league is an excellent
league and it's great to play in and obviously coach in, but it's a high
And I think that the more we can get more Canadians
back into the league, playing at the level that is similar to CONCACAF
Qualifying, the better, and hopefully we can do that the next few years and
make sure that the top players that are out of the country come back. It will only help. It will really help and I think the
public will get involved, and I think it will really drive on the CSA to make
You've seen the Quakes transition from expansion team to being one game
from making the MLS cup. You have
one player in the expansion draft, Jason Hernandez. Can you talk about his development over the years and also
how important he will be in the game plan in stopping the Rapids' two‑headed
monster of Cummings and Conor Casey?
FRANK YALLOP: Jason's a player you can look at from afar and see he's a
very good player, very quick, aggressive player. But I've seen a real maturity in Jason over the last three
years we've had him and he's become one of the team leaders. He's a terrific kid off the field. But he's a good teammate and leader in
the locker room, and I think that's been his growing up, if you like.
He's a winner as well, doesn't like losing and
I think all of those attributes have really started to sort of come to the top
now where Jason is becoming a good ‑‑ really good, solid player and defender in
our team and in our league. I'm
very pleased for him. He's a
humble kid and it's good when good things happen to good people, and he's certainly
a good fella.
How do you expect to utilize him?
He's going to have to run fast, that's for sure, because those guys are
quick. But I think it's about, you
know, and Gary mentioned it, on that field, you've got to be able to make sure
that you're tactically alert, because any kind of break down from us and losing
the ball in a bad area, they are going to break on us, and they have proved
that they are good at that.
So we have got to make sure that we are clued
in and make sure that we are aware of Omar and Casey the whole game, and you
know, one slip‑up, you could be in trouble. But we feel confident we can do that, but obviously, it's a
tough, tough matchup, for anybody in our league.
But in a semifinal, or conference final, we are
excited to have the chance to do that, and hopefully we can come Saturday.
Question on tactics: The Rapids experimented with moving Cummings out
wide and pulling a lower striker up front and then decide to go back to the 4‑4‑2
with their two big strikers up front; do you think they are more dangerous in
FRANK YALLOP: Well, I think with two forwards, you're going to be almost
more dangerous in most attacks. I
expect Gary to play the same system or pretty close to it that they have played
in their games towards the end of the season and in the game against Columbus.
I don't see a big change. Obviously they are going to be
difficult to contain, but again, we have got to be on our game like we were in New
York, and ride our luck a little bit at times, but hopefully we can come out on
top and stop those guys.
What is the big challenge in facing Colorado?
I think they have moved the ball quickly, and on that pitch, they are
good in possession but they are not only keeping it, they are looking to break
So we have got to be sure that we can obviously
stop their fluid game, but it's not easy.
Again, I say it again, it's a big field. They move the ball well and they do break quickly.
We are aware. We have watched them.
We know them like they know us over the season. You know, so we kind of know traits and
good and bad things that happen for every team.
But again, they are at home. They are kind of expected to win if you
like so we are going to go in there and hopefully just have a good game plan
and a good game and hopefully come out on top.
Could you comment a little bit on the way Gary has rebuilt this team,
the pieces that he's added and the way he's assembled this team and how it
might compare with where it was a year ago.
YALLOP: Like I said before,
Gary has done a great job of doing that.
I think he had some great assets to start with. Got them playing well. Added the pieces that he felt were
going to help their team to be more stronger and competitive, and win more
games in our league. And I think
he's done a good job of balancing that.
They are pretty much injury‑free and they look good.
And I said it all along, they are a side that I
enjoy watching play. And the
balance is always good in their team.
And you know, we have got to ‑‑ again, we have got our hands full,
but we feel our balance is pretty good at time. I think it will be a good game. It will be an open game. We are not going in there just to sit back. We can't do that. We've never done that. We didn't do that in a game like this. So we decided to test them out and see
You say you enjoy watching them play; what is it that gives you pleasure
when you watch them play?
YALLOP: Well, I think the
dynamic going forward; the quickness of the passes they play is good to
watch. I think they are crisp,
clean, they move the ball sharply.
They are good moving it off the ball, and that dynamic in the final
third when the two forwards get going, they are very good to watch and very
good movement. One is a bit of a
dribbler and one is very good at attacking crosses and all those things.
So I just enjoy watching them and I think that,
you know, they have done a great job of building that team and that's it.
Bobby, what this playoff run is like, compared with your experience and
being in a promotion battle with England, and also, can you give a sense of
perspective or enjoyment now that it's more given that the first part of your
MLS in career in D.C. when D.C. wasn't very successful?
CONVEY: Yeah, it's always good
to be a part of a winning team.
It's always good to get experience, and it can only help you for the
I think the experience in England can obviously
help me grow up and helped me become a better player. You know, hopefully can help some guys here with maybe some
nerves or whatever. But I think we
have a good bunch of guys here.
We have a good mentality and you know, going
into the playoffs, nobody thought we were going to win against New York, and
you know, we did well and I think everyone is confident right now, so you know,
it's just another game here for the final.
Does the promotion ‑‑ the battle for promotion feel like playoffs
in the regular season when you're in it?
CONVEY: Yeah, we won the
league with four months to spare, so it wasn't really a battle for us to go
up. But the Playoffs are
extremely, you know, exciting time for everyone, because you know you're only a
few games away from winning the championship.
So you put the rest of the year behind you and
just look forward to showing up on the day and whoever shows up that day and
plays better will win the game.
Wondered if it crossed your mind the possibility of meeting the Galaxy
in the final and in broader terms, the way things ended there that you're
proving a point this season about your qualities as a coach?
YALLOP: I'm not thinking past
this weekend for obvious reasons.
We have got to get threw this game and win. So we are not thinking about anything other than Colorado
I never doubted myself as a coach. You obviously have some great times and
then some dark times in my profession, playing, coaching, so it wasn't the
greatest of times. I learned a lot
about myself in that time, but you know, I never doubted my own ability to lift
a team or build a team.
So I felt pretty good about what I was doing so
far here at San Jose so far with John Doyle. And I think what we want to try and do is not just be a one‑hit
We want to build a team that's going to grow,
just steadily get better and better and be challenging each season, that is our
first year back in the playoffs and from our third year as a team, after
expansion, and we have done well to do that.
We had sort of limited our resources to start
with, but I feel now that the ownership group has seen us produce some good
results and look like a team that could challenge [for the title]. They are
ready to sort of back us and make sure that we get what we need. So we feel good about a lot of things.
Again, I want to make sure that we finish on a
high this season and hopefully build for the future.
You mentioned that you learned some things about youself; what are one
or two of them?
YALLOP: Well, when you're not
winning, it's not fun; and it's how you address the group and it's how you
conduct your own self. I think I'm
a positive person and I stayed positive.
I could easily have crumbled and not been strong. I felt I was a bit of an island down
there at times, with what was going on result‑wise and all of the stuff going
on away from the actual game, but I never doubted myself.
And I think the players gave me everything they
had. And when it kind of calmed
down a little bit, we had some great results in a row. That's what I go on. I made sure that I didn't crumble, and
I'm a strong person and I made sure that the players knew that I had their
back, as well.
I've been asking MLS coaches about what they have the playoffs, number
of teams in the playoffs; is eight enough? Would you like to see more? And as the league adds expansion teams for 2011 and beyond,
would you like to see a single table or a different setup?
YALLOP: I'm not sure. I mean, I think that the divisions have
been around. Obviously we used to
have three divisions when I played, so maybe we could go back to that with a
number of teams joining the league.
It would be nice to have more chances to make
the playoffs because ten teams next season don't make it. And you know, there's nothing better
than making the playoffs; and nothing worse than not. Maybe a wild‑card system would be good to give some teams
that are not quite in the top end of the table a chance to make the playoffs
and have a great run.
So that will be one of my things I would say, I
think, some sort of wild card to get into the playoffs. I'm not sure a single table would work,
but it just makes it easy, you know, play each other home and away and away you
You'd have to ask obviously the guys at MLS and
the people that make the decisions what's the best format. I don't really think about it. I just get given the rules and then
obviously deal with it.
San Jose earthquakes have the best record of any team in MLS history in
Colorado. You were part of many of those games, just wondering if you feel like
you have become an expert on how to deal with games there? My second question:
In your whole career, have you been in these one‑game finals as a player, how
many of these, is there one moment that you can equate with this one‑game final
FRANK YALLOP: To answer
your first question, those games were years and years ago, and obviously even
last season's games don't mean anything.
This is this season. They
have got a new team, we have got new players. We try and get our guys ready for whatever eventuality that
Colorado are going to throw at us.
And just get them prepared. And I think Bobby mentioned it earlier;
things happen early that change a game.
Early goal, early goal conceded; whatever happens, you've got to be able
to deal with it. We've actually
shown that hopefully we can deal with things this season a little better than
we had in the previous two.
One‑game situations for me, I did play in the
playoffs ‑‑ don't laugh at this, 1987, I think these the first playoffs,
Ipswich played Charlton and we got knocked out in the first round by Charlton,
and used to be called the First Division; it's the Premier League. And that was a one‑off game for us.
Played in a few cup games, FA Cup, League Cup
in England at Ipswich. But the
only playoff stuff that I had had, other than obviously MLS, was the one
against Charlton in '87. Not a lot
of people were born then.
I'd like to ask Frank about the building process, or in this case the
rebuilding process with the San Jose Earthquakes?
YALLOP: Well, I think there's
a number of players you would love to get from other teams at MLS but you have
absolutely no chance of getting them.
We inquire about players all the time and it's always an: 'Are you kidding me' or a 'no chance.'
Not often that players get offered up, but I
think a couple of trades that we have made have really worked out well,
obviously the Wondolowski one being the top of everybody's list of a great
trade for us. And I said it
before, you know, Chris didn't get a chance to play in Houston because they had
a terrific team, they were winning championships, and they had a ton of really
good strikers down there.
Chris has got a chance to play with us this
year and he's done perfectly well.
But at that time, Dominic didn't need him and felt that he could move
So stuff like that, I think that you just try
to keep getting better with every trade and anything we've tried to do is
always to better the team. It's
not to get rid of people or to move them on. It's to make the team better.
I think myself and John have been allowed to do
that. We have been allowed to do
what we need to do, and I feel that the characters ‑‑ L.A. have done this,
they have got some good characters and players that see them through
games. I think now we are starting
to feel that now a little bit and we feel the team is more mature; not in their
age, just in the way we play.
But I think next year is another year and we
have got to build on what we have done this year. No matter what happens on the weekends or after that, we
have got to make sure that we are building and making ourselves stronger and
stronger each season, and it's not easy, because you might lose some
players. You might ‑‑
expansion draft is coming up, we have got some players that we don't want to
lose that are going to be in there.
So it's not easy, but we've done I think a good job of not panicking
with everything and building slowly.
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