Atlanta United midfielder/fullback Chris McCann answered a few questions after Monday’s training session and before Thursday’s playoff game against Columbus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
Q. What has been the key to being able to defeat Columbus twice already heading into this playoff game?
A. I think it’s just the amount of work we do behind the scenes. Tata (manager Gerardo Martino) and his staff have done the homework on them, researched them thoroughly and gives us all the information we need to implement the job out on the field.
We work on it, maybe two days before, on different scenarios, different shapes. We play against the kids, we play against ourselves. I think it’s just being well-drilled, a well-oiled machine going into the game knowing our roles, our responsibilities.
If the scenarios come up in the game we are well-rehearsed to know how to deal with them. I think the last couple of games have been tight but we’ve done a good job against them.
I know the playoffs are a different kettle of fish but hopefully we can go and do the same thing we’ve done all season and go and beat them again.
Q. Martino said yesterday that Columbus has made you play differently both times for stretches in the games. I can remember the game at their stadium it was Alec Kann long balls that sprung (Hector) Villalba for goals and (Josef) Martinez close to a goal. Is that just because you play a similar style, or is there something specific that they were doing that you can remember?
A. The one thing that you can take away from them right from the very beginning when we played them in Charleston is they are a real good soccer team. They like to play out of the back and have guys who are comfortable on the ball. If they make mistakes, they still play the same way. They don’t want to mix it up and play long ball. They want to play football the right way and I think when we have the kind of sessions we have during the week we see that and that they want to play so we can press them high up the field and force them to give it back to us. When we get the ball we like to play as well so I think once we get to our attacking players we are a hard team to stop because we are so fast going forward.
We make them play a different way by forcing them to give us the ball back and make errors in certain areas. Tito had a couple of chances at their place with turnovers in dangerous areas so, we’re playing at home I think we can force them into mistakes in our place. They’ll be in for a tough night.
Q. How’s your health? Are you fine after going 90 and coming back from your injury?
A. Yes. I took it easy for the last week or so. I was a bit stiff after the game, not playing for two weeks it’s understandable. We will see how we get on in the next couple of days.
Q. Have you played in a playoff game before, maybe promotion?
A. I’ve played in a promotion game a couple of times back in the U.K. I know what to expect. It’s like a lottery, especially being a one-off game, form goes out the window, to be honest with you. People say you like to have that momentum going into, which we do have, but I think in these types of games it is a lottery. Whatever team turns up that night and plays the better football. It’s take it or leave it. There’s not real form going into it. They’ll definitely be out to get one up on us after beating them twice this year.
We’ve got home advantage and have been doing some good stuff at home. We really worked hard for that result last night and probably could have taken it on a different day. Being at home hopefully we can get the result that we want.