Columbus Crew runs into buzzsaw down at Charlotte FC, 2-0; Quotes from Coach Ampadu and Darlington Nagbe

By Mariana Smith



Kwame Ampadu Columbus Crew assistant coach, subbed in for head coach Wilfried Nancy who was sick


Saturday, March 23, 2024


Assistant Coach Kwame Ampadu


On the Crew not conceding a goal until the 83rd minute and if there is a sense of accomplishment with that despite the result, given the adversity the team faced tonight


“Disappointed obviously with the result, but what the team showed was a real togetherness. Down to 10 men, they showed real bravery with the ball to continue to try to play our game. We maybe just couldn’t install as high up pitches as we wanted to, but we tried to play. We really tried to play. I believe we had [53.6] percent of the possession playing against a strong team so we have that to fall back on moving forward.”


On the Black & Gold’s mindset after needing to make two substitutions due to injury in the first 25 minutes and then losing Midfielder Derrick Jones to a red card


“We’re thinking of how we’re going to change the system, what shape we’re going to be and trying to stay as close to our structure as possible, and then we made the subs with that in mind. Then we have to change and then we have to get over it.”


On evaluating the referees’ performance tonight, given the number of controversial decisions in tonight’s match


“The referees are trying to do their job. It’s as simple as that. There’s no more to say on that. They’re trying the best that they possibly can, and that’s it.”


On based on the TV broadcast there appearing to be a situation with Forward Cucho Hernández and the bench following the player being subbed off late in the match


“No, there was nothing there. There was nothing to see there.”


On his reaction to the red card Jones received in the first half


“I haven’t actually seen it yet. I’m waiting to go and have a look at it. A lot of people told me that it was very harsh so I’ll wait to see it myself.”


On how the Crew changed their gameplan after being down to 10 men


“Of course, we’re down a man so that’s an option less on the pitch. We tried to stay as close to our structure as possible, and I think we did that. We kept the ball in the second half. We probably couldn’t install as much as we wanted into getting into their half, but we were brave and we tried to play.”


On the Crew coaching staff collectively stepping up with Head Coach Wilfried Nancy being unavailable tonight due to illness


“The great thing is that Wilford sets an environment where all the assistants and all the coaches are included in everything so for us, this was a normal day of work. Didn’t have anything special. We all worked together as we normally did. It’s just unfortunate Wil wasn’t here because he’s sick.”


On if there is an update on Defender Rudy Camacho’s and Forward Christian Ramirez’s status


“No. We’ll speak to the medical people, and they’re going to be assessed in the next 24 hours and then we’ll know more.”


On the injuries sustained tonight and if there were any concerns pertaining to the season-ending injury that Defender Will Sands sustained at Charlotte last season

“No, I don’t think so because I think it was different circumstances with Will’s injury last year. We were just focused on the game here today. By the way, Will came on today so he’s clear in that sense. He’s clear in his progress, and he’s moving forward. He came on at the end of the game today to help us.”


On the extended stoppage time in the first half, if that contributed to potential fatigue in the match and if it ‘was the strangest first half he’s seen in his career’


“No, I think there were just the stops when things are getting checked. Unfortunately, sometimes they take a little bit of time, but I think players have started to get used to that. They know that the game is not 45 minutes or 90 minutes anymore. They were able to focus and stay on the task, and they showed that.”

Darlington Nagbe Columbus Crew captain

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe


On the referee’s performance

“Yeah, I think they did the best they could you know, so even with them doing what they did and trying to do their best, I think we still had a couple of chances. We had chances, a goal that was called offside, created a couple of other little half chances, but they defended well, so yeah.” On what was going through his mind following the first half

“It was a crazy start, I mean it started from the kickoff, that was strange, but it started from there. The way the game was going, you know we didn’t start too well but I felt we grew into the game. The adversity, I thought, made us a little better even, got the guys to rally together and kind of play and perform. We had a goal that got taken back but overall full, that second 45, we were unlucky not to get away with a point. We played really well, defended properly for about 75, 80 minutes, whatever it was.” If there’s a silver lining on how the team performed today

“You know, I think everyone knows us for how well we play and possess the ball, how pretty we play, you know, for a good amount of the game, we showed a different side to us, buckle down, defend and play a different type of way. We tried to get a result but almost there, not a complete game but some good things to take away from it.” On the start of the match tonight

“Yeah, just weird, weird start, you know, weird vibe. I don’t think they gave us too many problems, but we just didn’t start well. We weren’t as sharp as we normally are so I think once things settled, once we were down a man, we tried to rally together to get a little bit more, so you know, some confidence to take from it.” On knowing there are so many key people missing

“I think for us, it’s always next man up. That’s how we train, that’s how we prepare. I think everyone knows their role and each other’s role so when guys come to the game, guys are out or we make substitutions, I don’t think there is any downfall. I think we all know the expectation, whether they start the game or come into the game. I think, considering those things, I think we’re fine. We didn’t start too well but we rally a little bit, we were unlucky to give up those goals.” On Derrick Jones’ red card

“Yeah, it was tough, because I didn’t, I haven’t seen the replay yet as well, but I thought maybe just, they just collided, you know, feet got tangled, so he made the call, he made the decision, I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t comment on it too much.” On possible fatigue towards the end of the match

“I don’t know if it was fatigue, you know, I don’t know what it was. I don’t think it was fatigue. I think it was just a slow moment where we weren’t as sharp as we were the rest of the game. Not much to look into it. It’s a great strike from their captain, but overall, like I said, proud of the team, proud of how we defended for a good amount, good portion of the game.”

On the situation with Sean Zawadzki at the end of the game


“Just miscommunication. You know, Sean’s Sean. Everybody loves Sean, so you know when Sean gets into a little altercation or anything like that, someone tries to step to him, you know, everyone is there to have his back.”

Cucho Hernandez battles for ball at Charlotte FC Saturday, March 23, 2024 (courtesy Crew Communications)