Interview

PSP talks to Warren Creavalle

Photo: Paul Rudderow

PSP talks to Philadelphia Union’s Warren Creavalle about his role in midfield and preparing for Saturday’s road game against Chicago Fire.

Could you talk a bit about your role this season? Last year you were a bit of a utility player and this year there seems to be a commitment to keeping you in midfield. 

I think this year, now and in preseason, I’ve just gotten a lot more reps at center mid. Last year, for depth reasons, I was getting more reps at outside back. But Jim made it a point to get me more reps at center mid in training, and I think it’s been beneficial.

And what about your role within the midfield, within the system you guys are employing this season?

My role is to play to my strengths, which is breaking up plays and closing down, and being solid in transition. And that’s where that second goal against New England came from, really. It was in transition where that play started.

Watching that goal on replay, it looked like you stepped up defensively then found yourself high up the pitch once you guys had control of the ball. What’s going through your head when you find yourself in that sort of position? You’re out of position, but you realize you can contribute to the offense from there. 

Just trying to get into a good position to keep advancing the ball. I looked back and we still have decent balance in midfield, so I was able to stay a bit higher.

And when you look back at the Columbus game, was there anything in your performance you wanted to tweak or improve before facing New England?

For me, I just want to take my performances and just go with them. The Columbus game in particular, it was my first ninety in center mid in a while and I just wanted to build on that performance. There weren’t too many defensive tweaks that I wanted to make, other than just being a bit more patient at times. But other than that, I just wanted to stay connected to Brian Carroll and keep high pressing, like we’ve been talking about as a team.

Can you explain to me what you mean by ‘more patience’? I was definitely one of the doubters who thought it would be risky to play you in central midfield, but you’ve proven me and others wrong so far. And it sounds like patience is part of what has helped you do that. 

Yeah, for me it’s a management thing. Defensively, you try not to get too pulled out where you’re leaving gaps in the midfield where the midfield is unbalanced, in a way. If that makes sense. It’s kind of a mindset, don’t feed off adrenaline and get carried away, so being patient and get the team a better shape.

I asked Wil Trapp about balance in midfield before the Columbus game, and he talked about just being aware of where he can be to provide an option for the man on the ball, and then where he has to move to make sure he’s opening space and providing another option. So sort of like setting the table to move the ball quickly. Is that something you have to think about on the Union, even though you guys play a more counterattacking style that moves the ball forward pretty quickly?

Absolutely. That’s one of the things we’ve been working on in preseason. Being able to play through the lines and advance with the passes. So moving forward and advancing with our passes.

One of the notable things about your game is that you are very aggressive, but in general you seem like a pretty even-keeled guy. What gets under your skin? Whether it’s other players or certain little mistakes you make that you wish you could do over?

I’ll be critical of myself and be on myself in those moments, but I know it’s important for me not to dwell on it.

This weekend you face Chicago Fire. Unlike the last two teams you’ve faced, they don’t try to possess the ball as much. They play more of a countering style like you. Will that change your preparation at all?

I think our team has gotten a lot more comfortable holding the ball and possessing it. Defensively, I just think we have to try and keep things compact and just take advantage of when we are able to squeeze the ball out in transitions and get forward. The focus is more on ourselves and what we’re going to try and do that day rather than what Chicago is going to do.

For you personally, knowing that you were coming into this season as a central midfielder and not moving back and forth between defense and midfield, did you prepare differently? 

In the offseason, it didn’t change much. You don’t play many 11 on 11 games, so you just work on what you can. In preseason, though, I was able to get more reps at center mid.

I guess I wanted to know if having positional stability has helped your confidence, in general or on the ball. 

Yeah, it’s definitely great because this position has always been mine. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been more of a central midfielder. So it’s been great.

2 Comments

  1. I love these game/tactics oriented interviews, Adam/PSP! Please keep them coming if at all possible. Not that I don’t care about if a player ate a cheesesteak yet and where they went…wait, no, I DON’T care about that at all. Soccer interviews about soccer. What a concept!

  2. Paul Costa says:

    WC was my man of the match for the Revs game. Seriously.

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