Press Conference | Nashville 3 - 3 Ottawa

Gary Smith, Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Ríos spoke to the media after Nashville SC's 3-3 draw with Ottawa Fury.

GARY SMITH (Head Coach)

© 2019 Ben Wright / Speedway Soccer

Opening Statement: “I’m extremely pleased in the way that we attacked the game and the opportunities that we created. I think over the course of a couple of games here at home, we’ve found it difficult to get ourselves in positive areas and look like a home team. Our goal scoring opportunities and moments were, I felt, frequent enough to have won the game. But of course, bitterly disappointed in conceding three goals. What I will say is there are times when certainly with a slight change of focus in the shape of the group and also with bodies, or a particular body in Ken [Tribbett] who’s been extremely productive for us as a center back. I do think that there are things that we can improve. The past that’s seen us be difficult to play against and quite frugal in terms of conceding goals. We’ve now scored 10 goals in three games, but sadly we’re leaking too many. A victory that I felt was certainly something we deserved, that we’ve missed out on.”

On why he brought in Bradley Bourgeois for Liam Doyle in the second half: “There were a couple of things that I felt Bradley might just deal with a little bit better. We were getting ourselves in more positive areas higher up the field, and I just thought there were signs that it could be a little bit of an issue against a pacy front line that Ottawa have. There were some very good things that Liam did and certainly in possession, as always, he was very thoughtful with the ball. It was purely a tactical move.”

On what the team can improve on after this match: “I think there’s been a huge emphasis, in fact I know there’s been a huge emphasis within our work to be more productive going forward. But, four games ago, we’ve had four away games, I was sitting here talking about how we were going to create more chances, how we were going to break teams down, and today has seen a much different mindset and certainly productivity in the game. I’m delighted, of course, with the goals. Sometimes you shift too far one way, which I believe we have. We’re now looking at the game in a very different light. There’s a lot of positive play, creative play. All three forwards have scored again, which I’m so pleased about. But, maybe the pendulum has gone a little bit too far, and it’s cost us the game today. I do honestly think that there are mindsets and moments in a game that I think definitely individuals, when they look back at the way the game unfolded, will believe that they should have done better. The final goal is more than preventable certainly in that midfield area. It’s all part of each challenge that is presented here. There were lots and lots of good things tonight, certainly the goals against were not.”

On if the pressure of playing at home affected the result: “The second goal reminded of one or two we’ve conceded where it was a counter-punch, which has to be down to a lack of focus. A long-ranging ball in behind the back line that leaves us exposed, and listen, the finish is exquisite. It’s a fabulous finish, so let’s not take anything away from the play there, but certainly preventable from our point of view. I was most disappointed with goals one and three. Free kick given away three minutes before halftime, there were plenty of things that went on before the free kick actually was given. That, for me, is all about the appreciation of the moment in the game and the management of the game. We’re in a good place, we’ve created enough chances to have been probably in a better spot than we were. But, we should go in 1-0 up and I think the mindset of the opposing team is very different. I’ve been there myself, you score a late goal and suddenly you’re invigorated, you feel the game is there for you to go and maybe attack a little bit more, and certainly for a team that possesses the ball as well as them. It gave them a shot in the arm. And goal three, late on in the game, especially after coming back from being 2-1 down, it’s far too soft. Where the strike is from, and the lack of pressure on the ball, and just the general feel about seeing the game out. I know the players are better than that. There’s going to be some serious disappointments when they look at the footage again, because we should have won the game. We got ourselves in a good enough spot to win it.”

On what having a fully-fit Ropapa Mensah and a healthy Cameron Lancaster does for their offense: “You’ve only got to look at their output. I think I said in the build-up to it, three out of the four forwards scored at the weekend, and three of them have scored again tonight. They’re as effective, as bright and as positive as any forwards in the league. I would have to say I think they’re the best front line in the league. Have we always given them enough service? Hopefully we’re moving in that direction. Some of the delivery today was so much better than in the past. The build-up play, the connection between any of the front line and Lebo has been very good. The big conundrum now is sticking the finger in the dike and stopping as many goals as we’re conceding. I do think that’s a lot down to personality. There were many moments in that game that we should have been able to deal with a lot better than we did. That’s taking nothing away from them, I thought they played ever so well. But against a side that normally outpossess most teams in the league, they pass the ball more than anyone else in the league. We’ve edged possession, we’ve built some terrific pressure, we’ve created some wonderful opportunities. In the end, it’s been the one thing that I think we’ve been fantastic at in the past, and up until now, that has let us down, and that’s our defending, not our attacking.”

On the offensive creativity from the group: “I think the shape of the group has helped a little bit tonight. We do have some very creative players and effective players that I believe are finding a better rapport and understanding. I want to say that the guys are clinical, Cameron definitely because he’s only been on the field two or three minutes. But there are moments, certainly for Ropapa [Mensah] in the opening seconds of the game that if you’re clinical, we see that go in or certainly make the goalkeeper work. They’re easily forgotten when you score three goals. That’s not being critical of our guys, it’s just being realistic. Because goals change games. I like the way that the group is looking. There’s a nice understanding, there’s a lot of confidence in the group that we’re going to score. There’s just some work to be done at the moment structurally to prevent sides from staying in the game or at least thinking that they can get something out of the game.”

On improving defensively for Wednesday night against a high-octane NYRBII offense: “We’re not going to have an awful lot of time practically to work at this. I’ve seen this group keep many clean sheets and look very difficult to play against and break down. In many ways, it’s a little bit like scoring goals. There’s got to be an internal belief and a bit of pride in keeping that goal intact. There’s more that can be done, I think the guys have taken some great steps in the other direction and they’ve now stopped thinking about the bread and butter work, which is giving good results. I’m not in the habit of beating teams 4-3 and 5-4. Balance has always been the key to everything that I’ve worked on, and like I said, I think the pendulum swung a little bit too far one way. I have no doubt in my mind that all of the guys in that locker room have the right mentality to see games out. They’re just not locking in on that at the moment at the right times.”


© 2019 Ben Wright / Speedway Soccer

Lancaster on scoring five goals in five consecutive games: “It’s nice to get on a run again and get back playing. I’m glad to have scored again and helped the team try to get a win, which we didn’t do tonight, so it’s very disappointing.”

Lancaster on Ottawa’s equalizer: “They chopped and they scored a beautiful goal. To be fair they had three unbelievable goals. There wasn’t really too much we could have done better. It is disappointing in itself.”

Lancaster on whether scoring three goals at home helps the bad taste of the draw: “At the end of the day, you want to win the game. It doesn’t matter if you score three goals or one goal, and they don’t score and you win the game. That’s how football is.”

Ríos on being tied as the leading goal scorer in the USL Championship and being a prolific scorer: “Work hard. The reason behind my goals is the whole team. It’s not just me scoring, it’s also the guy who passes me the ball, the guy who makes the cross, and things like that. It’s due to the whole team that I score goals.”

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