Press Conference | Nashville SC 5 - 1 Swope Park Rangers

Below is audio and a transcript of Nashville SC's media availability following #NSHvSPR.

GARY SMITH (Head Coach)

His thoughts on tonight’s attacking performance: “From the very outset, it was a very positive, bright and purposeful start. To be perfectly honest, after Wednesday night, it couldn’t have been a more productive 15 minutes at the start of the game. The wide areas, Alan [Winn] and Kharlton [Belmar] were very productive. Daniel [Ríos] was clinical in front of goal. To have three goals inside 15 minutes, I think really settled a lot of concerns maybe, a little apprehension coming into the game because when all is said and done, these are still very talented sides. There’s a very young side, but we’ve run into groups lie this before who have taken control of games and made life difficult, and it causes a lot of anguish within the group and maybe some edginess in our play. But the first 15 minutes really set the tone for the game. We got a complete grip of proceedings, and I’m just delighted that we’ve gone on and won handsomely and given two or three of the guys a real boost. Daniel’s [Ríos] two goals are great, but Cameron [Lancaster] off the bench gets his second for the group after having some frustrating injuries. Kharlton Belmar gets his first for the team, and we’ve been searching for that on in all of his endeavors and hard work. Alan [Winn] has been very, very professional in his work and diligent weekly and waiting for his chance, and he gets back on the sheet, makes a real difference for the group. I think it just reemphasizes again the strength of the squad as well.”

On Kharlton Belmar's goal and assist: “I’m delighted for him. He put so much into his game. He’s a very genuine guy. All for the physical attributes are there for everyone to see, but he’s certainly taken on board a lot of information in a new group, and he’s adapted very well. The one area of his game that is just deserting him at the moment has been that final ball on a more consistent basis and of course, goal scoring. His record tells us that he’s more than capable, and hopefully it gives him a shot in the arm and a real confidence boost to push on.”

On if tonight can jump start the offense moving forward: “I mean I hope so. It’s certainly not been easy in terms of trying to find the connections and relationships. Our goal scoring-record has improved from last year. There’s no doubt about that, but I think we should expect that it would, given the players that we’ve added to the group. What can difficult is consistently finding good link play and good relationships and creative combinations. Tonight, I think we saw much more of that. I thought Lebo [Moloto] was instrumental in that. He proved to be a wonderful creative link for a lot of the attacking group. I’d obviously include the wide players in there. There were some really encouraging signs there. That has got to be a more consistent feature with individuals as well as a group. Of course again, against opposition that might be slightly more experienced or stronger than the group that we’ve run into today, but you can only achieve and play against the opponent in front of you on the night. Tonight, the guys have done a great job.”

On takeaways that can impact Nashville's next USL match against Charlotte: “I think a lot of those attacking relationships that some of the combination play, some of the wide play; the first half especially I thought the two wide players were very bright, very purposeful. Not just when they got on the ball and needed to make a difference against their opposing defender, but Alan [Winn] and Kharlton [Belmar] got themselves into really good spots to keep the pressure on or end up in a finishing situation as Alan did and get himself on the score sheet. It looked more natural. The players, once they got themselves in a good place, looked far more comfortable in possession. There were some lovely passages of play. I thought there was a very good feel about it, but you got to remember the goals were scored at good times. It’s all about getting off the mark and making a difference and settling the nerves and making sure that you’re playing from a position of strength and players did a good job of reinforcing that tonight.”

On Matt LaGrassa's performance this season: "Matt's a talented guy. He's got a great opportunity to maybe push onto the next level, as have many of the guys - in fact, everyone in the group. They're all in a position where the way they perform and their attitude towards their work daily is an audition for the next level. And at the moment, Matt's taking it by the scruff of the neck and saying 'I want to be there.' Everyone has that chance. Everyone has the chance to take it by the scruff of the neck and say 'don't look beyond me.' There's a lot of them that are doing that. I certainly feel as though there's some that can do more. It's a long difficult season, and I've said to the guys that's it's really about quality rather than quantity. If you prove when you're in the side that what you can achieve is enough to take you to the next level, that could be 18, 20, 24, 25, whatever many games it is. It doesn't have to be 34. You've just got to prove you're good enough. We've got a very strong group. There will be rotation within it. You've seen it again tonight. Players are not dropped because they're poor; players are rotated just purely because we have a strong group that should not drop the standards or quality when I bring other players in. Everyone's there, everyone's in a good spot. It's really for them to step forward and say 'I'm your man.'"


On scoring and getting an assist: “It’s been a long time coming. 10 games in and I was just eager to get the score sheet, so that was a big relief just to get my name on the stat sheet as well was very good. Very happy about that.”

On how frustrating it was to not score or get an assist for nine games: “It’s one of those things that happens in football, so you’ve got to just get on with it and keep playing. If you get too frustrated then the performances start dipping. It was one of those things where the guys around me have been galvanizing me and lifting me up, so it’s been good just to have that support behind me and just keep pushing. I knew it would come eventually, and it finally did. No better way and no better team to get it against.”

On playing against old team in Swope Park Rangers: “It was interesting. A lot of those kids I’ve been playing with for the past two years, so it was good to see those guys and also just knowing how they kind of operate makes it a little bit easier. It was good, a good experience.”

On if he reflected on missed chances through the first nine games: “I think after Wednesday as well, kind of missing that header that I had, that one kind of played on my head a little bit. I was going to make sure I turned it around and made the most of the chances that I got tonight. That was definitely a big focus. It was one of those things that, again, you can’t dwell on it too much and you can only try and turn it into a positive thing. It was a learning experience and you get on with it, you know?”

On if he got excited when Matt LaGrassa gave him the ball leading to the goal: “It definitely set up that way. I was kind of watching it develop, and it kind of looked like it was going to be on, and finally he made eye contact and the ball finally came. I was like ‘Finally, a chance. I’ve just got to finish this one’ and it went in. I’m just happy for that to happen.”

On if he hoped he wouldn’t mess up his scoring chance: “That played in my head a bit, but I was like ‘It’s about time. It’s about time to just put this one away.’ I just got a good connection and got on the end of it and put it away.”

On if the high-scoring effort can launch more chemistry among the forwards: “I think in the first 10 games we’ve had a lot of good moments. I feel like you can definitely look and see that the chemistry is growing, whether it’s between me and Daniel [Ríos], or me and Lebo [Moloto], whoever is up there. It’s getting better and we’re starting to understand each other better. I think especially on the second goal, me and Daniel have talked about that one as well. I get around the corner and he just makes sure to get to that near post and there he was to finish it. It’s growing, it’s coming along and I think 10 games in, we’ve got a good amount of goals. We’re only going to try and build on that and hopefully get a lot more.”

On how he aimed the ball across on his assist to Ríos: “It’s more of a spot. I think when I’m running that fast, it’s kind of hard to get a look up and get my head back down and try and play a pinpoint ball. Like I said, me and Daniel have kind of talked about that one and he knows that I’m trying to put that ball there for him and more than likely I’m going to be looking for him to get on the end of things since he’s the finisher in there. We’re building that rapport slowly.”

ALAN WINN (Winger)

On scoring in his first start of the season: “It feels good. It’s been eight or nine games in, and it’s good to get a start under my belt. Obviously I’ve been coming in and out of games throughout the beginning of the season and doing my part in that scenario. Now I’m taking a different role when it comes to starting or not starting, so it’s good to get the first start and first goal.”

On if Lebo Moloto yelled at him for taking the goal in the first half: “No, he just smiled. I said sorry about 17 times before, but he was excited for me, so it was good, fun times.”

On if tonight can help with the chemistry among the forwards: “You’ll just have to see next game. I can’t tell you whether it’s a springboard or not. We just want to stick to what we know and what we’re trying to achieve, not trying to see patterns. Just trying to stick to what we know as a team and try to get that chemistry as the first thing.”

On if the new signings are developing chemistry: “Yeah, it's always molding, so everyday, we try to get the chemistry, try to figure out how we’re playing together and that takes time. But we’ve got to get it. Before we know it, it becomes the end of the season and we want to get a playoff spot and hopefully be at the top of the table during that time. We’ve got to get that chemistry as soon as possible and I think we’re molding it every single day.”

DANIEL RíOS (Forward) - No audio

On how it feels to find the back of the net: “It feels good. Me trying to help the team scoring goals feels good for the team and for me. It was definitely nice to score two goals.”

On helping his teammates on the field: “When we are talking, it’s not only about me scoring goals, it’s about me creating chances for everyone else. When we make chances, we will score.”

On how this game helps momentum moving forward: “In soccer there are always rematches. There are games every week, but we feel more confident now for Tuesday and even Saturday. If we lose a game, we have another chance to win the next one. That’s how soccer is.”

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