After our defeat on penalties after a goalless draw to Flower City Union in the 2023 National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) semifinal, Head Coach and Sporting Director Rod Underwood took time out to answer questions from the media.
Here is everything he had to say:
On his immediate thoughts after the disappointing outcome:
It's been a good year. There's two seasons: there's a playoff season and there's the regular season. We all know in American sports, playoffs are different than the regular season. We didn't do enough in the playoff season to put us through, but at the end of the day, I've got nothing bad to say about our boys. We hit the crossbar two or three times, missed a couple one-on-ones, dominated the second half. What more could we do besides putting it in the back of the net? As for the penalties... it's a roll of the dice. We spent time on those, working on those. It wasn't like we weren't prepared."
On if this was the most brutal loss in his soccer career:
At the pro level, yeah. It's what it is, it's the game, right? It's not easy, but we'll get over it, move on, prepare for what's next.
On if he thought eventually a shot would find the goal:
I thought we would. Our expected goals has got to be 3, 3.5 maybe. Our goal is 2.25 and to dominate possession and we were probably well above 2.25. But we know that, in one-off games, the data doesn't always predict, and that was clear tonight.
On if he had a chance to speak with the team:
No, because at the end of the day, in two years we've won close to 30 games. We only lost five games in two years. That's not too bad, right? There's a lot to look forward to, but you want to win that last bit, and that was winning tonight, getting to the final and seeing what happens.
On what the emotion was like acknowledging the fans after the final whistle:
"These fans are top notch. I worked at Portland Timbers and Sacramento Republic. When I was at Sac Republic there was never not a sell-out. Ten thousand fans every week. Portland would get 20,000 people. But these guys are special. This club is special. This club has something that... I feel like it's one of the top clubs in American soccer. It's really, really important and hopefully we get stronger and better.
On if there was anything that didn't work for the team or if the opportunities were there and that's soccer:
The players that subbed in were impactful. That was very, very good. I think that we did the things we needed to do. They had a good plan. Give them credit. Take nothing away from them. They had a good plan in the first half. We made some adjustments and we came out and dominated the second half. I felt like we had the better chances in the first half but I still think it was an even game. But I think in the second half we were dominant. We just didn't finish our chances.
On if playing the same team five times throughout a season makes the contest tighter and tighter:
We still haven't given up a goal against them in five games. This is the downside of playing in a small league, that you play teams so many times that eventually it's a numbers game, right? Ultimately the numbers go to the other side and they went to the other side tonight.
On Jean Antoine's performance:
Jean's been good for us all year. Jean was brought here to help us win and he did everything he could to help us win. What's there to say about Jean, right? He did everything he could to help us win.
On if he thought the momentum would swing after Jean's first save during the penalty shoot-out:
You never know in penalty kicks, right? You never know. It's a roll of the dice. There are so many positives. We went 17 games unbeaten. There's definitely more positives than negatives, but at this level you want to win everything and so we're disappointed for not winning everything.