What a Guy
Greetings from Estadio RFK, where United went through a very light training session this morning.
The big question: Will Guy-Roland Kpene start in place of Jaime Moreno tomorrow night against Houston?
Based on training observations this week, various comments from players and coaches and simple common sense, I can almost guarantee that he will be in the lineup alongside Luciano Emilio. (And I never get the probable lineup wrong, eh?!)
Asked if he thought he would start, the painfully shy Kpene responded, "I think so." I might add that he had a big smile on his face when he said it.
It's been a great week for the rookie forward from Ivory Coast. After making an impact in the Toronto match last Saturday, he was rewarded with a spot on the senior roster Thursday.
"I am really happy, that's all I can say. I didn't know if they had one more spot for me on the senior roster."
Will all that extra money -- kidding! -- change his life forever?
"I am going to live just like I was a developmental player," he said, laughing.
As for chemistry with Emilio, he said: "It is developing. We don't know each other really well but it's going to get better and better with time."
Kpene speaks French and English. Emilio speaks Portuguese, Spanish, German and a bit of English. So how do they communicate?
"We're talking soccer language, man! Our eyes, body language and all of that. That's all you need. No problems at all."
Reflecting on the incident with Facundo Erpen yesterday, he said: "I didn't see it coming. After I got up, he started cursing at me, but after that, it was okay. Everything is nice!"
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On Kpene's starting possibilities: "Guy has done very well every chance he has got. He is one of our forwards. He's got a chance."
On Kpene's confidence: "The one thing you can say about Guy is that he has been consistent even while we waited for his visa situation to sort out. One of the hardest things to do is to stay consistent, and that's part mentality and part ability."
On struggling Houston: "You go through streaks -- players go through streaks, teams go through streaks. They're a good team. They pressure well, they're organized. Sometimes when goals are hard to come by you end up trying too hard and you are now doing things you are not normally doing. But there is a reason they won the championship last year."
On New York's victory last night: "Chicago kind of opened the door for them in the first few minutes and it's impossible to recover in our league when you come out like that. There's always lessons to be learned when our guys watched that. I always talk about the crucial times in games and how important it is to see the beginning of the first half out, the end of the first half, the start of the second half. Those are all times where mentally you have to be focused, and if you're not, the whole game can change and now you can't catch it anymore."
On Houston's struggles: "It's good for those teams they played before, but now I think it's dangerous. A team that is fighting for a win, the emotion is going to be high. Teams always seem to come play hard at RFK and it's crucial that we match their fight early and then make it a soccer game toward the end. We think we're a pretty good soccer team so I think if we match the fight, we have a good chance if it turns into a soccer game."
On Guy's new contract: "It's fantastic. The guy [no pun intended, right, Ben?!] is a great example for young guys who are on the club and in the league. He comes in and shows promise, and you're rewarded. We're just really excited to have him aboard right now. He's been one of the better guys for us."
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