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October 30, 2017

Greg Vanney

Harrison, New Jersey

Toronto FC - 2, New York Red Bulls - 1

Q. You come away with the result that you wanted. Just your thoughts on the way the team played.
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, we defended well in terms of staying together as a group, protecting our box, protecting our goal. We needed to be a little bit better with the ball in transitions, be a little bit better with the ball with possessions. It stopped maybe on the backside. We were a little bit disjointed in our movement. It was a little reactionary, one and two guys moving in at times, but we weren't really moving as a group. Part of that is their pressure comes fast, you've got to be able to move just as quickly as their pressure is arriving. For us, getting a hold of the ball and getting a hold of possession for long stretches just wasn't there for us tonight, but the guys pulled together, and we kept our shape defensively, and again, protected our goal. There weren't a ton of things on goal that we gave up, and we found our moments either in transition or on set pieces.

Q. Star players win games, and Sebastian Giovinco's seventh direct free kick goal of the season. How special is it what you're seeing from your player at this time?
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, he's amazing. We talk about it all the time. But the knack to step up in the moment and make a play is what star players do, and he was able to do that again tonight. You know, that's a weapon you have. The guys know, especially after we got the first goal relatively early, we got the away goal, was a little bit about locking things down, giving up nothing, and giving the opportunities for guys like Seba, Jozy, somebody like Victor to step up and try to make a play and try to get the second one, and that's ultimately what happened.

Q. New York came out with a little more purpose in the second half. You weather the storm, that must be something to be happy about, too.
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, we figured it was coming. I mean, they were down and they were going to come out and they had to do something in the second half to try to turn it a little bit. So it's not surprising. They're an aggressive team. That's the way they play. We just were caught a little bit at times backing up or on our heels a little bit, and so it made some of our transitions difficult. But again, we stayed together. We are as good a defending team as we are attacking team, and tonight we utilized that as our method of getting the result.

Q. Any word on the injuries to Drew and Victor?
GREG VANNEY: Nothing specific in terms of prognosis or anything. Victor took a hip into the hip roughly, and so he was just a little sore. We'll see where he's at tomorrow. And Drew rolled his ankle a little bit. I'm not sure how much. He was walking around. It looked like he was okay, just wasn't in the right -- didn't feel good enough to be able to play the second half and give us what we needed.

Q. What did you think of the penalty call?
GREG VANNEY: I haven't seen it back yet. What do you guys think?

Q. Soft. There was contact. What do you think of the -- what happened on the play with Victor? Looked like Felipe might have got him away from the ball, threw a hip into his midsection.
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, I did see a replay of that, just so you guys know. But Victor took a little touch to sidestep him, and as he took that touch, then Felipe did a little body block on him, a little hip check, and that's what caught Victor in a place you don't really want to get caught too often. So that was that. I thought it was a foul for what it's worth, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

Q. Nick hasn't played all that much, but coming in at the end of the second half for Drew, it seemed like he settled in pretty quickly and was a pretty important player for you guys.
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, Nick has been great for us. Unfortunately his season has just been off and on with injuries. And the timing of his return was tough because we were just in the final stretch of the year, and so it just was tough for him to break in. But he's a guy who's been in this environment. He was a big part of why we got to the finals last year, and so we knew if we needed him, he would be ready. I like him in the middle. I thought he did a nice, solid job. He wins a lot of things in the air, and his athleticism is a nice addition when he comes in. Drew is a more cerebral communicator talking to everybody around him. Nick utilizes his athleticism to make plays, so it's just a different view, but both of them are very good.

Q. How big of an advantage are the two away goals?
GREG VANNEY: You know, we like having them, but there's still 90 minutes to play, and we'll find out how big of an advantage they are once we get to the end of the next game. But it's good to go home with some advantage and now it's important that our group realizes, as they did when we came in, that they're only halfway there, and they still have a lot of work to do to try to close this out.

Q. Jozy didn't get on the score sheet, but he was involved in both goal sequences. What did you think of what he gave you tonight?
GREG VANNEY: I thought Jozy was outstanding. I mean, he played big, he played physical, and days where you're not getting out in transition all that great, you need somebody who you can target, who you can play off of, who can hold the ball, you can who can bring people in. Jozy gave us some runs into channels that allowed us some things, so his contribution was huge. It wasn't, again, on the scoreboard, but I think Jozy is more than that. We've learned that over the years, that Jozy is the consummate team guy. He'll do whatever he needs to do on the day, and he doesn't get too caught up on how many goals he scores. We needed him to be the big guy today, and he was great.

Q. How much does the fact that you have that goal advantage factor into it as you evaluate Victor and think whether you would maybe be a little cautious?
GREG VANNEY: None. However they are, we will determine in terms of whether they are available to play or not. It's going to be more on their condition than the results.

Q. As this run gets going, how much pressure is there on you guys to go and win the whole thing, and for those of us who aren't in Toronto witnessing it, how does that pressure get made on you guys because there is a lot of criticism around the league that there isn't enough pressure on the players, but Toronto seems to be a different beast.
GREG VANNEY: I think there's a lot of expectation from the group. I think every year you play in Toronto, I think the guys have felt the expectation. We've learned over the last few years how to manage expectation, how to utilize that in terms of our performances. This year I think with the team doing well during the course of the season, we've learned a lot about playing from the front, and now a lot of people want to put the label of favorite on us. I guess in some ways we have earned that through the regular season.

But I think the group understands what it means to play from the front. They're motivated. They want to win. They lost last year in the finals, and I think that pressure is more than anything anybody could put on the outside of us. This group has a lot of pressure that they put on each other to perform in training and perform every day that they step out on the field.

Q. You may only have one away game left this season. Do you think opposition fans may want to rethink booing Bradley and (indiscernible)? It seems to be music to their ears.
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, again, I think we knew it was coming. I think fans can express themselves how they want. I think there's a certain number of fans who maybe have a real purpose for it, and then I think a lot of other people are doing it because it's the thing to do. Whatever motivates them, our guys, I'm perfectly comfortable with. I think, like I said, these guys are out on a mission to make sure that they win the next game and give themselves a chance in the next series. One game at a time for us.

Q. You have the two away goals and you have the best home record. Is there a challenge (indiscernible)?
GREG VANNEY: No, no, because it is -- they understand the repercussions for not showing up on the day. This league is unforgiving. The playoffs are unforgiving. Again, a year ago we lost in the finals, and everybody -- we brought 19 guys back from that team, and every one of those guys remembers exactly what it was like the day that that game ended and we didn't do what we wanted to do.

That's been their motivation all year. I think that as we return back to Toronto, there won't be a sense of taking their foot off the gas.

The other thing is tonight was a very tough game. It was not like we came out and by any stretch of the imagination were blowing the doors off of it. But I think the first playoff game is always a tough playoff game. They were able to get one under their belt in Chicago. This was our first one. So we were able to take that in and hopefully utilize that as we come back home.

Q. There's been a lot of attention on goalkeepers in this league, but what did you make of Alex's performance?
GREG VANNEY: Yeah, I think Alex is a very good young goalkeeper, and I think ever since we've given him an opportunity that he's grown with the experiences that he's gained. He's learned to make good decisions. He's been a good shot stopper ever since we've put him in there. He makes big saves. He's continuing to learn because he's a young goalkeeper, but he's got a lot of trust from myself and from his teammates, and we've seen him step up periodically when he's had to throughout the course of the year, so we don't expect anything different in the playoffs.

I look forward to his continued growth. More and more of these games like this are just going to help him to be even a better goalkeeper. Obviously Luis has been through a lot of these and a lot more experience, and Luis is a great goalkeeper, as well. As long as they're just working every day to try and get to that other level.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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