First, before we get to United's zip-zip tie with the Fire, let's read Hope Solo's formal statement and apology issued before the USA's 5-1 victory over Mexico in St. Louis:
"I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches and everyone else adversely affected by my comments at the Women's World Cup. This public apology comes later than it should have, but I hope that does not diminish the fact that I am truly sorry. I made a mistake and I take full responsibility for my actions. I let my teammates down and have lost their trust. I would like to especially apologize to Greg Ryan and Briana Scurry. There is no excuse for insulting a coach or a teammate. My focus now is solely on reconciliation with the team. I am here to support the team for these games, but after apologizing in person to all my teammates and the coaches, I have made the choice not to suit up for these games since I believe this is the first step in the healing process. As I work to regain the team's trust, I will not be making any more public comments at this time. The healing process has started, but I understand that I have a lot of work to do with my teammates and that is my focus moving forward."
Thank you, Hope.
As for United.....
Signs of alarming vulnerability in the first half, a better second half, an acceptable result. How 'bout some bonus quotes? Okay. Jump on down below to read 'em. I am a little out of practice with player ratings so I will only give you a very incomplete list: Perkins 8. ;-)
Busy night, huh?
"I was busy, but that's what they pay me for. This is a good time of year to do that."
What was the defensive breakdown in the first half?
"We were pushing too many numbers forward in the first half and we were basically playing with two lines. We had no one pressuring the ball once they cleared it out and they were just running at us the whole first half. We couldn't sort it out. We moved a guy into the midfield so we could clog it up a little bit and give Ben and Christian a little more freedom to attack."
"It's frustrating because we really didn't have solid opportunities tonight like they did. We're still figuring ourselves out without Jaime up there. Christian did well for us and Emilio worked his butt off for us and guys worked hard tonight, but we just didn't keep the ball very well. We have to be able to do that now and there are games like that in the playoffs where you are just going to have to battle and battle and battle."
But you got the result...
"That's a good message to send them here that, no matter what, they are not going to get any at home against us. You are always trying to send messages at this point in the season. But right now we're going to worry about Columbus and then we will worry about who we play in the first round."
"I haven't run that much in a long time. There was no shortage of action, that's for sure. It's one of those games where both teams are going for a win and they've got some guys who do a good job of cheating [in their positioning] and then when the ball turns over, we've got a lot of space to go."
How about Troy?
"He saved us. He was big. Goalkeepers do that every now and then - they just save the team - and today was one of those days for us."
"It's still a point, we clinch first place. Give them credit - they are a good team and they know what they are about - but we know what we have to do next weekend and Columbus is no different. They are going to come in here fighting for their playoff lives [not anymore, actually] and we will have to deal with it again."
How big is winning the Supporters' Shield?
"It's huge. To me, it's the hardest thing to do in this league. The MLS Cup sometimes is about who is hot and who gets a break or a bounce here. Who knows what can happen in a tournament; that's the beauty of these cups. The Supporters' Shield is the best team throughout the entire year. It's 10 months of soccer and to be the best team over a 10-month span in this league, I think that's pretty impressive. I know the team and the front office feels the same. It's a great feather in our cap if we can win it."
"Our big goal is the Supporters' Shield right away and then the next biggest goal is the MLS Cup. I don't think we were too focused on winning the Eastern Conference. We never even talked about the Eastern Conference championship, really. It was just one of those things that was out there, but I guess we just did enough to pick up the point we needed."
On the difficulty of playing Chicago.....
"They cheat. They have a lot of guys who don't really go back and defend. They take up good spots and hope that we turn over the ball. They defend hard and try to win balls and counterattack. As soon as they win balls, they play them out right away, they play forward and try to get at you. We weren't clean in our possession. Against teams that cheat, you have to get the ball in their half of the field and keep possession and force those guys who want to cheat to come back and have to defend. We were turning over the ball too soon. We tried to rush our attacks too quickly, they turned them into turnovers and counterattacks. It was one of the more hectic games I've played in in my life and it was just a lack of discipline in our side with the ball and then we got caught out of shape."
On his inability to score.....
"I need to go to church."
On his play.....
"I'm getting more dangerous close to the goal. It's coming. I'm going to get one."
"It wasn't our best day in the part of the game that we usually do a good job with, and that's possession. And when you don't do a good job with possession, it's going to be a harder day for you, and we made it hard for ourselves. We didn't adjust to how they were playing and it took us a talk at halftime to get it organized, but we've got to learn to do that on the field. We've got to do a better job. ... They were pressuring us, but we weren't sharp, and the combination of that hurt us today."
"The Supporters' Shield isn't clinched, so no one is celebrating in there. We've set our sights on the Supporters' Shield. Yeah, we won the conference, but not one guy is mentioning it in there. They've got their sights on the Supporters' Shield. That's very important to us. A lot of teams celebrate when they make the playoffs; it wasn't mentioned. We won the conference and I think they expect to do that. But we've got something out there that is very important to us. They are very focused on that. They are actually pretty disappointed right now."
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