PRESS CONFERENCE: Chris Armas | 11/11/18

Q. When you got to halftime with the 1-0 lead, what did you tell the guys in the locker room? And at the same time, how proud are you of the way that Daniel Royer stepped up tonight in the second half and just put the game away?
CHRIS ARMAS: Well, I don't think anyone's so surprised with Danny burying a couple of good chances that he had, a couple of good looks. So he's been pushing hard, training well, coming back from an injury, so I'm really happy for Danny to come in this game of this magnitude. So again, coming in with 11 goals, he's that 1-2 punch with Brad, so great for him.

Halftime, getting the goal in the first half, it's good to relieve that pressure for the guys against a team that we knew would be organized and hard to break down. So at halftime there's a few things to talk about. We knew in transition there would be some moments we could slow down a little bit more, but there's some little things in there tactically that we were letting slip in our pressing and we had to address that a little bit. Some of it involves the back line moving up and just some little things. But there was a good energy in the locker room at halftime. A lot of belief that the second one was coming.

Q. Other than the score line, what was the biggest change between leg one and leg two for you?
CHRIS ARMAS: Well, on the road it's hard in our league. And Columbus, on the year 11 wins at home, they're tough at home. So that in itself make it's tougher. That's a big difference, a starting point. But tactically we pushed Tyler higher up the field. When Wil Trapp and Artur, those guys they're not just good on the ball, they're the outlet all the time for how they break pressure, break our pressure, and we said we can't let it happen again. But how can we address up the field being aggressive and not get sliced through. So some of it was to really address how we would control spaces, and this game we did a much better job of that. But pushing Tyler higher along with Kaku and pressing the way we did, I thought was the big difference.

Q. Given the history of the team, what do you say to the naysayer who didn't think that you were able to pull this off? And what do you think about the fact that you've got to wait two weeks until the next game? Is that going to get in the way of momentum?
CHRIS ARMAS: I don't think it's going to get in the way because it's the same -- it's level for Atlanta too, right. It's a break, it's a much-needed break, and gives us time to prepare. It's a little tricky because international duties here, right, so you lose some players. And just a perfect time to work on some things and you're missing a few guys. So we'll use the time wisely like we did the last international break, physically, mentally we get ready for what's ahead. As far as naysayers, I haven't heard many naysayers. I'm not reading, I don't really focus on it, but what do I say to them? I mean it's for the outside to kind of judge what they think and it's fair to think, well, maybe the read bulls don't have enough, and I don't get so caught up with that. I can say that there's a lot of belief in our room, in our locker room. There's a lot of belief. And we know that this team is different than ever. I think tonight was another example of that.

Q. Wanted to ask about Alex Muyl. He's somebody who I think a lot of fans have seen growth and development in particular, the offensive third, a goal tonight and then an assist. You keep going to him and showing confidence in him. What did you see in his growth to get to the point where he's a difference maker on a night like this?
CHRIS ARMAS: I think I've said it before and we have said it around here with Alex. He is, we talk about being fearless, it helps if you put guys on the field that are fearless. Their starting points are that. So he doesn't back down from the moment and he's up for it all the time. We have seen that in him for the last few years. Alex also tactically understands how we're pressing or his specific role and how it fits into the team and it's just so important. You see him and Danny, Tyler, Kaku and Brad up the field. It's, if one guy's not on board, it falls apart and he really shows an understanding of that, so. And his confidence keeps growing and he keeps getting sharper. So I'm happy that he takes another step forward.

Q. What is distinctive about Columbus under Berhalter that makes it hard to break down? And if he winds up coaching the U.S., how do you see him doing?
CHRIS ARMAS: Look, I think we see his team is different. And this year even more than ever the way they have defended, they're very organized, they're very stingy. Statistically that shows up, the amount of goals they give up, maybe 43 on the year, you know. And, yeah, and the reality of trying to break them down is not always so easy. Gregg, he's just like a student of the game. We were national team teammates. I know him well and he's just a pro. So his team carries on that way. And then of course then you can talk about with the ball, that how good they are. They can unbalance you and they can give you fits. So he's a tremendous coach. Their staff is, they're just, they make our job difficult to prepare. And if he's the next national team manager, we're behind him. We're behind him and with another tier of players it would be fun to see what he could do. But he will do great. He would do great.

Q. You already addressed this, but your wide players, Danny and Alex, did well today and also your wide defenders did well today. What do you have to say about that?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, I mean up the field, if you didn't talk about the -- if you first talked about Danny and Alex in the pressing it's one thing, but then with the ball, now they're producing, they were a force now in the attack. And then Kemar and Murillo on the night, it was lacking in the first game and maybe we're being a little conservative, staying home a little bit, it wasn't really the game plan, but that's the way it played out. And so you go there and doesn't feel great because, yeah, you lose the game, but we didn't give up that second goal and more. We gave up six shots on the night. There's a lot of said with the Red Bulls are six shots at Columbus Crew. No one talked about that, right, but we felt good like, okay, in our building we'll take care of it. But tonight the emphasis was to get -- attack the flanks and we did. And the crosses early in the first half with Kemar, you see Murillo getting forward, they were both dangerous. And so the wide play was great tonight.

Q. I wanted to address something you just brought up about the crosses early on in the game. There was a few before the eventual goal, Kemar sort of jumped over on one of the crosses. Did you notice anything there preparing for this week or preparing for Columbus that maybe you spotted and wanted to key in on in this game as far as the wide play and getting those crosses in?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, you just can see they're a team in transition that -- they give up a lot of transition moments because they're a team built in possessions. And so when you win the ball they do a good job dropping and compressing spaces and they're a team that essentially becomes hard to break down. So we knew that the spaces on the flanks, I mean, this is not really, this is in the world of football, where somebody tap-ins and wide plays, especially their team with Wil Trapp and Artur staying in front. So we like to -- and we like to attack this way and they're not giving you that, so now we know that part of us being effective this way is to also be able to have guys that are on the move and running and joining in proactive, up the field, aggressive, not late to the party. So it was a big emphasis coming in and I think the guys committed to that and I thought we saw that helped in a big way.

Q. When you scored the second goal to make it 2-0, obviously you're feeling good, you take the lead in the series, but you still know that there's -- you're an away goal from disaster. The team seemed to kind of feel that, like the blood's in the water, we can get that third. What did you think of how your team immediately after getting the second found a third? And a quick follow-up, I think on Higuain, you guys totally shut them down. What was the key to kind of limiting them so much?
CHRIS ARMAS: Well, on the night we talked about being aggressive, but part of us being aggressive in pressing was sometimes going to be where we're a little more compact. So Brad is feeling the moments, are we organized, are we disorganized, do we go, are we set, or do we need to reset. So that was a part of it. But the guys are hungry, they like to attack, they like to go. It's hard to say go, go, go, Red Bulls, we play fast, you know, and then to just put the foot on the pedal is not so easy all the time.

But we also said we like the guys to play with freedom. What a thing of beauty if the guys can go out there and just play. And the way they got that second goal all of a sudden there's these little back heels, there's all this stuff going on and you sit back and you love it because now they're playing free. And you can talk about that, but then you see it, we know that it's in there, so we keep encouraging that. So we thought, yeah, I mean at some point we did drop off a little more and became a little more compact and we limited most of the chances down the stretch. But it's hard, it's good to see some guys take the ball to the corner, waste a little time. Derrick came in and did that and Rio and Kaku and these guys. As far as Higuain, you know, it was a big question before the leg one, after leg one, what do you guys, you know, he's always going to be dangerous. And Sean Davis, what an incredible job that he did on him, knowing where he is at all times, knowing it's not a one man job, but he really took his time and space away. And then other guys understood where he was at all times, because even there, some of their attacking plays come from him drifting wide and then trying to hook some balls in.

Yeah, the last thing I would say, I hope -- Jesse told me he was going to stay up late and watch this one. They were setting the alarm, Kim Marsch, his wife, and family, they were at their game today, which they win 3-0, they said we would win the same. They told me we would win the same by the same score. So Jesse I hope you stayed up and can feel proud in what this team continues to do.