Transcript - Nicol, Joseph & Domi

Media conference call - Thursday, February 17, 2011

Q: What made you decide to come to the U.S. and what do you anticipate for playing here?

Didier Domi: “I wanted to come to the United States because I just wanted to be part of MLS, to see a championship, because we have good guys. You know we have Youri Djorkaeff and Thierry Henry – they were talking very good about MLS. That’s why I wanted to come here.”

Q: Is it too early to get a sense of the type of football played here … Have you had a chance to see what that uniqueness is with the Americans yet?

Domi: “Of course. You train with them first of all, so you can see. You know what type of football we play, where we have to improve. But we are here to progress, to make a good season. “

Q: Does it remind you of anywhere else in Europe in terms of the style of the game, the approach to the game, the speed, the way the game is played?

Domi: “The way the game is played, it reminds me more of England than of Spain.”

Q: The team has enjoyed a lot of success in the long run, and last year was not successful. Do you understand some of the challenges ahead as you look get back to what this team has been for the last decade?

Domi: “I know the team has had successful seasons and sometimes you can have a bad season. I don’t know exactly what happened last year, but the thing I know is we have good players. You know we have a good atmosphere on the team and we have a good spirit. And we are here to improve and have a better season.”

Q: The team has changed a lot. What’s your feeling on you and basically Matt (Reis)being the longest (tenured) – the guys that really go back. How much has this team changed and what do you expect this year?

Shalrie Joseph: “Yeah, you definitely can tell that we turned over a lot of personnel. A lot of guys moved on to a different part of their career - some gone to overseas, some moved onto other teams in MLS. That’s the nature of the business. You just have to take it how it comes each year. With me and Matt (Reis) being the guys who have been here the longest, it definitely means we have to step up and embrace that leadership role and just lead the younger guys. And the guys, first-year, rookie, second-year, and whatever year these guys been, we just have to be leaders for these guys and try steer them in the right direction.

“It’s going to be a tough year for us in terms of not having experience, but I think with the youth we have, it’s going to make up for a lot. Now these guys are so eager to play and so eager to prove themselves. I think we are going to surprise people.

“Preseason has been a little tough, in terms of we are still trying to figure out what system or what we like to play and try to figure out each others’ strengths and weaknesses. I think with time we will develop as a team and definitely grow and be more mature and be one of those teams if we can get everything on track.”

Q: How fast do you think you guys can get that together? How fast does that process happen, and can you speed it up?

Joseph: “I think we will definitely look to speed it up, but it’s something that you can’t really do. You just have to take it game-by-game, practice –by-practice and work from there on. The more we try to race it or the more we try to hurry it and we don’t get it right, it’s going to come back to hurt us. So we just have to take it one day at a time and one practice at a time. Just be there for each other and whatever it is. “

Q: Can you give us some background on how you saw Franco Coria? Can you give us some details on what you saw and what you admire about his game?

Head coach Steve Nicol: “The first thing we saw was a DVD, which we liked. So we got a hold of some more. Then we started speaking to an agent who was involved with him. And then we went and saw him. Steve Myles went down and had a look at him. I was actually supposed to go, but was ill so I couldn’t go. So what we are getting is a tough defender, who although he is [22] has experience and has played in the top league in Argentina. And he wants to play. So, I think we are going to get the benefit of that. “

Q: How does the team, and you as a coach, approach these preseason games, with the first one coming up (Friday) night? What’s the main thing you want to see the team do (Friday) night?

Nicol: “We just want to see some good habits. We are still finalizing how we are going to go about the season. As far as formation and all, we want to see good basics. If you have good basics, it gives you a good platform to try things and go from there. And by that. you mean keeping the ball, making good decisions. “

Q: As far as having that approach and kind of experimenting, what areas of the field are you looking for the most out of? … Do you focus on one area of the field or is it a general looking at every position?

Nicol: “No, we are looking at the whole thing. As I said, we have got a lot of things, and you we are looking at fitness, as well. But at the same time, most of the sessions so far have been two hours every day. Obviously the heat here is something we are not used to. By the end of today, guys were a little bit fatigued. But it is preseason, so we have a lot of things to try to put in the mix. We have a lot of young guys who are trying to impress, who are trying to get contracts. So we have to try and give them a chance, as well. So it’s a kind of balance of making sure we are looking after the core of what we think the first team (will be), and also giving those guys a chance to show what they can do and to show whether they should be in the first team.”

Q: You reference that even though you it’s just you and Matt (Reis) who are the long-standing veterans, you mentioned that and once again, your team might have the chance to sneak up on some people. Can you talk about the rookies and one rookie that has seemed to stand out this preseason is Stephen McCarthy. I actually spoke with him a couple of times and Steve referenced you as having a huge influence on him already. What kind of things have you seen in Steve McCarthy that have impressed you already?

Joseph: “Ah, Stephen. We have a bunch of Steves on our team, so I was just making sure you said McCarthy. He’s been great. I think what has impressed me the most about him is he is willing to work hard for the team. He has good feet, he can control and receive the ball and do good stuff with it. Not just specifically him, but I think the rookie class has been really great in the first couple of weeks in the preseason. And with that being good, it makes the practice very competitive and it makes it very tough for everyone to get into the first 11. And with him, he’s pushing Pat (Phelan), he’s pushing other guys in the midfield to step up their game. And I think with him, if he keeps up his good work like he has been doing in the preseason, he’s going to make it hard for the coaches to pick that starting 11 because he has been working his tail off. He’s going to continue to do that, and that’s all we can ask from him.”

Q: As far as the whole group of rookies, not just Stephen McCarthy, how impressed have you been with the entire group from top to bottom.

Joseph: “Like I said, I have been very impressed with the class and who we’ve drawn in the draft and picked up and what Steve (Nicol) has done in bringing in players. I think we are so deep position-wise and it’s going to be very hard to pick an 11for (Friday), and not just for (Friday), but for the upcoming games. That we can have four or five guys competing for the same position, it shows that the Revolution - if we can continue to do that with this team – we’ll definitely be a better team if we can compete every day in practice against each other and push each other to be better players, to be better pros. It’s just going to make this team better. And hopefully we can make that run and start being one of these teams Steve (Nicol) is talking about.”

Q: After such a tough year last year, what are your personal motivations for kind of getting back on the field and get this thing right?

Joseph: “It was definitely for me, last year was a frustrating and disappointing year personally in terms of my career. It was definitely one of the low points for me in MLS, having dealt with the drug situation and now I finally feel like I am back to being healthy. I had my offseason – December and January I took off. And I worked hard to get my fitness and get back to where I was a few years ago. And this year coming in with me personally, I want to set some goals and set some standards that I’m going to be one of the best players in this league – if not the best of this year. And then push my team to the top and get back to the championship level that this team is capable of being there every year.”

Q: How exciting can the unknown be with new guys coming in? I would think there can be some added excitement built in about what just could be in two or three months as you move forward.

Joseph: “The excitement level is high. As I said, we have guys who played in high level, from Didier (Domi) to Steve getting the guy from Argentina – I forgot his name - and then A.J. Soares ,Stephen (McCarthy), all these guys come in really ready to practice and pushing everybody each and every practice. For me being here, I think this preseason has been one of the most competitive, I can say - all the little things. Just from the practice going two hours, everyone getting in on tackles, all this stuff is going to translate to the field, that we start pushing each other and being better. And hopefully we can get it clicking as soon as possible. But as we said, it’s a work in progress. And me being here, all these years, I have seen guys come in and I’ve seen guys gone, but I know this team is capable of good things if we can figure it out and get us working as a team and as a unit.”

Q: “You have 27 or 28 guys in camp right now. Is this the primary group that’s going to work before the season or are you trying to bring in more guys before the start of the season?

Nicol: “Well, it depends on how everybody does that’s here. The one criteria we have is - the last question we always ask is - is there any particular player that we see playing for the first team? If the answer to that is no, then we’d like to make a change. You know whether it’s someone that’s been on the first team or someone that’s trying to get in the first team, if we ultimately think that they won’t get back in or won’t actually reach there, then we will try to make some changes. Guys have still got time to make our minds up for us. So until then, we won’t bring anyone else in. But it certainly won’t stop us from doing what we think is the right thing to do.

Q: Have there been any positive surprises so far?

Nicol: “Yeah, there are a couple of guys that we are pleased with. But I wouldn’t like to single people out. I don’t like to do that; (I) never do that really. But there have been a couple of guys that we are really pleased with. And I am sure in time, you will work that one out.”

Q: How does it feel with a lot of veterans joining the team with Didier (Domi) and (Ousmane) Dabo, and playing with guys that have been playing overseas? Do you look to them?

Joseph: “I think with inclusion of Didier, especially, in the back line, it’s going to help us so much right now whether he is starting or not because he brings that leadership quality. And he played at a great level and a huge level that a lot of us are never going to get that chance to play. And he is going to help these guys- and help me in particular - and his experience trying to talk to these younger guys and trying to get them on the same page that we are going to need to be on if we are going to want to win games. Or if we want to a successful team. Our backline being so young right now with a Darrius Barnes and Kevin (Alston), and then just Matt (Reis) there to hold them up - he’s in a goalkeeping role, but it’s not the same thing. So having (Domi) on the back line, on the defensive line, I think it’s going to help our back line and that structure we need.

“Since we kind of failed – not failed, but struggled - last year in terms of giving up a lot of goals and not being experienced and not being a good defensive side, and with me anchoring through the midfield, it’s my job to lead that core group – that midfield group. To get them forward, to get on the defensive, to work together and to score goals. I think once we start getting on the same page, we will be a great team. We just need to, as I said, get on the same page. “

Q: The unknown as you are putting a team together, it has to be exciting. And I guess that is what makes it exciting each and every year, when you are trying to create this sort of mosaic – how do you feel about it?

Nicol: “Every year, everyone is always a dreamer. We are not the only team that will be doing that. If you can get some talent together...then you find the right way to play that suits what you have. Then you think it’s going to come together and you’re going to be tough to beat and you’re going to win games. So that’s what we are aiming to do.

Q: You have been at it so long – do you have that confidence in what you see right now at this point?

Nicol: “Well, I think there are always signs from previous years, but again it goes back to basic things. If you’re a team where the majority of people are comfortable on the ball, and they enjoy playing, they work hard and they have good basics and are good people, then you have a chance to win games. That’s what it’s all about.”

Q: Shalrie wasn’t quite sure how you guys are going to play or where you are at, but how close is this team from being ready to play?

Nicol: “Well, it’s tough to say. We’ve been indoors for two weeks, so that’s not really any gauge for what we do. And we’ve been outdoors playing on a proper-sized field for not even a week, so it’s kind of early for trying to judge what’s happening and where we are going to be. But certainly, over the next five days and with these three games we have coming up, possibly four – we might try and add one – we will have a better idea of where we are. But it’s kind of impossible to answer your question at the moment.”

Q: We don’t want to revisit everything that Shalrie went through last year, but he obviously felt a personal role to pick up some the slack. How do some of these experienced players - some of these French players and foreign players - how much does it help simplify his game so he doesn’t have such a burden to help the team win?

Nicol: “Well. it’s kind of tough because Shalrie always to take everyone on board, anyway. Whoever is playing beside him, but I think if we are better with the ball that means he is going to have to do a hell of a lot less defending and try and get us further up the field. So, yes it’s tough to sometimes. You have got to try and pull the reins on him because he wants to help everybody and do everything. So this season, hopefully, we can do that and get some good guys around him, and try and get him playing further up the field, so he can relax and just play.

Q: When do you expect the new signings to arrive?

Nicol: “Well, (Ousmane) Dabo has an appointment on either Saturday or Monday, so if he has (his Visa) on Saturday, we have to decide if we bring him straight down (to Florida) for a couple of days or whether we send him straight to Boston. If his appointment is Monday, then it is straight forward and he’ll have to go to Boston straight away.”