Monday, November 17, 2008

Western finalists' conference call

I'm sitting here on hold for the Western Conference champion New York Red Bulls. Yes, New York are the Western Conference champions. They did come out of the west after all, ran right through the regular season Western champs, then dispatched of the up-and-coming, 2009's chic pick to win it all Real Salt Lake, all the while giving up one goal over three games.

Maybe the East was superior after all...

Anyway, it's music hold right now. Classical music... Chopin maybe? Uh, yeah, what the hell do I know about Chopin? I'll be updating this thing as it goes on.

Alright the call starts. First up is Danny Cepero. Some background, 4th rounder from Penn, only goalkeeper to ever score a goal in MLS, native of Long Island. I've got a question for him and for Juan Carlos Osorio.

Crew will wear the gold strip, gold jerseys, gold shorts and socks while the Red Bulls will wear whit shirts, red shorts and white socks. Baldomero Toledo will be the ref.

Here's Danny:

"Overall it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me personally, just starting out playing the Crew here in Giants Stadium, my first game... Going into the playoffs, it's been exciting. there has been a general buzz around the club after we made the playoffs. The guys in the locker room are excited to have a clean slate... The results have spoken for themselves and i think we carried that into Salt Lake and a very hostile environment... We did the job with what we had to do. it may not have been the prettiest game but we did what we had to do."

First question - You spent most of the season playing for Harrsiburg, did you ever think you'd be in this position.

"No. you're playing in USL-2. It was a tremendous experience for me... in terms of thinking I'd be thrust into playoffs and playing in an MLS Cup final, no.... It's just been great to be out here and contributing to this team effort."

My question: I ask Danny about how the team reacted to him after the whole Jon Conway scandal.

"Unfortunate to lose two of our key contributors... we fully support them and are behind them, that put me at ease and put me at ease... Juan Carlos and the players were pretty adamant about letting me know that they had the utmost confidence in me as a goalkeeper and that i as here for a reason... they were very accommodating and very welcoming."

"Juan Carlos is a great coach, one of the best I've had. He has a lot of passion for soccer and that translates over to the team and to me personally. That passion to better yourself as a soccer player is something that speaks to me because I'm young and I have a lot to learn about soccer. to have a coach that is always thinking about soccer is very important... In terms of his skills and what he brings as a coach, he's very adamant and focused on keeping us mentally prepared."

Now a question about his Cuban heritage from a Miami reporter as well as his academics:

"My dad was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He came over here when he was 14 or 15, late 60s, straight to New York. He had an uncle living in New York... I do have family in the (Miami) area... I definitely do (follow the Cuban politics)... We've been hoping to plan a trip over there. It's difficult to get over there... He still has family in Cuba, he still has cousins over there. We're still very much involved in Cuba with the politics there... I'm a history major, I guess I still am a history major... when I was on loan I took a class and drove once a week to the University of Pennsylvania... I've been doing all that... The class is called The End of European Empires."

Next question about being a local player, a New York born player leading his New York team to the MLS Cup final.

"it's incredible to be able to be in your home area where you were born and raised and be part of a great organization... It's been fun having my family going to Giants Stadium supporting me... it's been great having my parents and my sister come out and support me... I've been rooting for the MetroStars since I was younger and... it's pretty tremendous."

Now, Juan Carlos Osorio is on the call and a question for him about Dave van den Bergh.

"I can only reiterate that we appreciate Dave's contribution to what we have done so far. The most important thing as I said to my players this morning is that we managed to keep everyone active and everyone very much within the team. We all train every day with the view to be a part of the team... they all have been very much part of this club since Day one. That's part of the responsibility of this coaching staff is to have the players ready to go when we need them."

One more question for Danny about the 5-2 loss to Chicago.

"The coaching staff was very adamant about trying to restore my confidence. it wasn't like I was heartbroken at the end of the game... They were very great about trying to use the experience as a character-building experience... I think they just helped my mentality in a sense that tomorrow si a nother day. We were fortunate to acquire enough points and we played well enough to make the playoffs."

The question about the defense

"The back four have been tremendous all year i think, but particularly in our run in the playoffs. They have been the main component for our clean sheets... in reality we defend with 11 guys... It's a tribute to the whole team's mentality that we're not going to give up a goal. If you don't give up a goal, you are not going to lose."

A question about Diego Jimenez:

"It's just the approach is just a simple one. Sometimes less is more, you need to get the ball out of pressure and keep the ball out of dangerous spots.... It's just playing smart and just playing with the lead you don't ahve to be a hero, you don't have to be the most valuable player. just do your job and get the ball out of dangerous spots and keep the ball out of the back of the net."

More on Diego from Osorio:

"We work very hard on how to defend individually and collectively. Some people out there have said I'm a very defensive minded coach. i take that as a complement. If we keep a zero, if we keep a clean sheet we'll always have chances... In top level football, you only have to win 1-0. back in 2003, Chelsea won the Premiership with 18 1-0s."

Okay, there are more questions but I've got some things to get to before I jump on the Columbus Crew's call slated for the top of the hour.

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