CITY vs RSL Press Conference with Bradley Carnell & Aziel Jackson


CITY SC Report attended today's CITY SC press conference for the upcoming 2024 home opener game versus RSL this Saturday, February 24, 2024. The press conference included comments from Head Coach Bradley Carnell and midfielder Aziel Jackson.

First up for questions was CITY's Head Coach Carnell.

On Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions Cup Game vs Houston Dynamo

Coach Carnell's analysis of Tuesday's first CONCACAF Champions Cup Game versus Houston was majority positive. According to him, compared to the preseason, the team was a lot more active against the ball and created opportunities from high turnovers. He praised the team's moments of counter-pressing. Compared to the preseason metrics - which is Carnell's current point of comparison - the team crushed the metrics. 

His points of concern was that the team needed to look more into final third plays, and shake off a bit of the rust from it being early in the season. Carnell believes that the team had opportunities to finish earlier in the Houston game, and that we likely could have scored more goals throughout the game given the chances we had.

When asked about Hosei Kijima's late game goal, Coach Carnell simply said, "We need to give him space to grow." Carnell believe the less we talk about the goal, the better Kijima will do throughout the season given a lot has happened for CITY's newest midfielder in a short time. Still, Carnell praised Kijima, calling him both curious and inquisitive. He has already built a good rapport with the coaches, and is interested in the coaching process and the data used for team metrics.

On CITY's Tight Schedule 

A few times, CITY's tight schedule over the next few weeks was addressed - there will be 4 games in 11 days! Carnell is excited for our first MLS game despite the tight schedule with CONCACAF. He said that five minutes after the Tuesday game ended, he was already thinking about the next game against Real Salt Lake. The win on Tuesday gives the team energy and excitement for the MLS Home Opener on Saturday.

"If we can create momentum, it gets hard to stop," said Carnell. The only concern may be roster selections for Saturday, as they will also affect next Tuesday's rematch against Houston Dynamo in Texas for the next CONCACAF game. However, Carnell pointed out that RSL will be facing the same issue in their scheduling, and that Champions League in Europe also requires teams to have a tight schedule. In his opinion, it's all going to be about balancing the emotional and physical levels of the players.

On Saturday's MLS Home Opener Against RSL

Coach Carnell felt confident about the team heading into Saturday's game with RSL. He believes the grip, desire, competitiveness, and hungriness of the current group of players for starting spots is motivating them for Saturday. Training has been full of good actions, good energy, and good vibes and everyone is internally motivated and ready to go.

When questioned about the referee lockout, Carnell seemed unconcerned. The team will do what they can, and he thought the refs in the Miami game did an admirable job. He said that a team must be used to working with different referee conditions.

From the Western Conference, both RSL and CITY were some of the top teams in scoring off setpieces according to the stats. Carnell is looking forward to the team matching up that defense on Saturday.

What Carnell wanted to encourage fans to do was show up and show out for the Home Opener. There's a palpable buzz around CITYPARK when the team plays, and "We need all the fans we can get to intimidate every team that comes to CITYPARK." 

On Team Health & Fitness 

Currently, Rasmus Alm is up and down.

Kyle Hiebert took a knock to the knee during practice yesterday.

Indiana Vassilev has a fracture in his wrist. However, he can still play and is eligible.

After Coach Carnell was finished, midfielder AZ Jackson answered some questions.

On Current Play

Jackson said the whole team is excited for the home opener after Tuesday's match. He's personally is looking forward to seeing how "[the team] expresses ourselves again" during play. He praised the team for Tuesday's performance, saying it was tough and the team could have been sharper in the final third, but that overall players had great performances throughout the match.

Looking ahead, he hoped the team would do a great job of defending against RSL setpieces on Saturday and take away the opportunities for them to even have setpieces. 

On Himself and His Growth

One reporter asked Jackson about how he felt about his growth from not even being dressed early in the last season to starting games this season. He answered that his mentality hasn't shifted at all from last year: he believes in the process. Everything is game-to-game, and the teams needs may vary depending on who and when we play. Jackson expressed a high level of trust in the coaches and their decisions.

On the tight schedule and how he thinks his own performance might be affected, Jackson said that recovery from games are mental more than they are physical, especially with so many games in a short time frame. He believes that he's capable of meeting a short turnaround recovery for the games, but once more said it depends on what's best for the team and going forward.

On His Personal Interests

To get pumped up for games, Jackson listens to a variety of music. He said it depends on the mood and the game what he uses to amp himself up for the games, but usually he listens to a lot of jazz, afrobeats, hip-hop, and rock.

Jackson recently saw the Bob Marley: One Love movie and loved it, calling it an impressive performance. 

When I asked who were the top women he admired in sport, Jackson referenced Serena and Venus Williams. Of Serena, he said she was one of his idols and is a remarkable person. He loved the movie King Richard because it shows that things can evolve in any athlete, and that success can be all about timing.

by Annamaria Lu