The media joined in Columbus, Ohio at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to attend a press conference with both participating teams. First up, was Columbus Crew SC. The Crew was represented by head coach Gregg Berhalter, Captain Michael Parkhurst, and forward Kei Kamara.
NOTE: The initials of each representative will appear when the player or coach has answered one or more questions, to steer away confusion of who's answering the question.
On difficulty of explaining playoff format: "I think the foreign players are really aware of the playoff format; they understand it from the get go. I think that most people growing up, in foreign countries are aware of the playoff format in all sports, in the United States. It's not different in soccer. When they get over here, they understand that that's how you get the big trophy, is through the playoffs, and the regular season gets you prepared for the postseason. It is different; there's a hype intensity, every goal really matters, but we look at the regular season as a process to get us into the playoffs, a process to make an identity, and work to find our form and it's an ongoing process." - Michael Parkhurst
On learning about the Timbers in their 2-1 loss: "I think it certainly plays a factor in our minds. We analyzed that game; we know their strengths and what we could've done better. They're two different teams, and if you see the run they [Portland] did, they did a fantastic job. We know it's a good team. If you look at us, we have progressed as well. A lot of tough games from then, and so we've gotten better." - Gregg Berhalter
On biggest development in the group: "I think every group has a process that they go through. When we started together back in January, we improved a lot and we were patient with the process, and we want to keep developing. To be honest, we're not completely developed. We still want it, and to me that's the mindset of the players, and that's the strength of the players is that they want more, and they're never satisfied, and when I have witnessed the determination that this group has had over the last two months of the season, it's fascinating. I'm proud of the guys. I'm proud of the way they've responded." - Gregg Berhalter
On what to do to beat the Timbers Defense: "I'm not at their training every day so, I don't really know what they do to have success defensively. We played them here, I scored a goal against them, and it really wasn't that tough. We play our game. They have two good center backs, give them a lot of credit; Borchers, Ridgewell, but at the same time, the way we play, we score a lot of goals, a lot of goals on the road, a lot of goals at home, and we have to keep playing our game. And if we do, it will show." - Kei Kamara
On Harrison Afful: "Well Harrison was identified through our process, and I think he fits in perfectly. We look for qualities in each position and he fit the qualities we were looking for so it became an opportunity. I think he adapted well. He shows the tenacity on defense, to handle the 1v1 situations and offensively, he's relentless. He keeps going forward to see if he can put a good cross in, and he's calm on the ball. He's a good fit and he's worked out well. To me, I personally like the way he's adapted. He's adapted to the team, he's adapted to the country without skipping a beat and he's a fantastic guy; we're happy to be working with him." - GB
On culture: "We have a good family around here. One of the first things I noticed when I joined the team last year when they were in the playoffs, was how committed everybody was to win the games against New England Revolution was, and how upset everybody was to not make it through that round. And when I saw that, for me, coming back into the league was all about 'I want to win something.' The amount of work we put in before preseason, tells a lot." - KK
Timbers key on their run to MLS Cup: "I think they have always had a good team. They're a team I admire; a lot of good, quality players and they are a dangerous team. I think they've had a good defensive record all year, and as the offense started clicking, they figured out their identity a bit more and really clarified that, they are a dangerous team. I've enjoyed watching them throughout the playoffs, and in the ladder stages of the season." - GB
On nerves: "I'm not gonna lie. I definitely do think about it every minute since the final whistle in New York, and looking forward to Sunday, going to bed, thinking about it, going to training. When I'm nervous, even in the locker rooms before games, when I'm nervous, I just dance. The more I dance, the less I get to worry about it. It's a big game; it's a game you want to play in. Doesn't matter how nervous you're going to get, but we know we're playing at home, it's our crowd that's going to be behind us, they're going to pump us up, definitely. I'll be ready in the right ways." - KK
The Crew will take on the Portland Timbers in the 2015 Audi MLS Cup being played at the home of the crew, Sunday December 6th at 4 PM EST. You can catch all the action on ESPN.