Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On Sporting’s 3-1 loss to LAFC…

I actually thought we were pretty good in the first half. In certain places it’s not easy to come in and play, and I thought we did. I thought we did a decent job of that in the first half. I thought that Marinos (Tzionis) was very good underneath. He caused a lot of problems for them and found some really good spaces, which in turn kind of helped us get on the attack and eventually get the first goal. I haven’t seen the replay (of LAFC’s first goal) yet, but they get a free kick and the ball goes wide, then the guy hits it from a long way away and they get a header off the cross. It’s a little tough to give up that goal right before halftime. We’ve got to do everything we can not to, but we were in a good place coming into the second half, for sure. I thought we were playing well.

We maybe could have done something differently on the second goal in how we covered, but the one thing you can say is (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi) hit an absolute bomb. Sometimes it happens and unfortunately it happened at that point. Tim (Melia) is not saving that and it’s not his fault. It’s a great shot, so now we’re behind. The third goal I can’t really talk too much about from our point of view and where the referee was from me. Both referees weren’t in a good area to see it, but I thought we were in a good place in the game. We were keeping the ball well and breaking through them. We were coming up the field and building out and going on the counter a couple of times. At the end, that second goal (from LAFC) was a back breaker.

On if Marinos Tzionis will continue playing as an attacking midfielder in future matches…

I’m not sure. He played really well there today. Right now with us having to move the team around as much as we have to, it was interesting. We thought he could do a good job there and he did a lot better than we even thought, so that’s a plus.

On Vermes’ decision to play a double pivot with Roger Espinoza and Remi Walter as defensive midfielders…

It was how we felt was the best way to go into this game and for the most part, it really was. It was really good. Roger and Remi did a really good job. Roger was running out of gas, so that was why I made the (substitution) with him, but we were in a good place for the most part. I think the (midfield) change was based on the game.

Sporting Kansas City forward and captain Johnny Russell

On Sporting’s 3-1 loss to LAFC…

It’s a really difficult place to come, especially with the sort of run we’re on right now. I thought we played really well, especially in the first half. I thought we looked back to our old selves keeping the ball well. I think Marinos gave us a little something different as well. He created a lot of opportunities. Up until conceding a goal right before halftime, and that was poor from us. Obviously you want to try and get into halftime ahead and then work on it from there. The second goal (from LAFC) is a bit of magic, really. It’s a great strike and it sort of kills you, then they get the third from there. It’s always going to be a difficult place to come back against a quality side. We ran out of steam in the end, so it’s a difficult one to take. It’s a difficult position we’re in but we just need to keep fighting and figure out a way to get out of this. The positive signs of the first half show us that we can come here against one of the better teams in the league and show what we can do. We need to tighten up and some of the goals were giving away are pretty soft, to be honest.

On what needs to change for Sporting to start clicking…

We all need to lift our game, individually and as a team. We all need to lift each other and battle harder for each other. Then our quality will shine through. We’ve shown it at times this season how good we can be, we just haven’t done it consistently. We’re causing ourselves problems the other way. It’s up to all of us as a team. We need to defend better as a team and we need to attack better as a team. That’s on us forwards, as well. We haven’t been anywhere near the standards we set last year, so we need to get back to that level. In the times we do concede goals, we need to make sure we’re getting some on the other side as well.

On Sporting’s mentality in recent weeks…

In this game, mentality comes in different ways. I think we showed in the first half the way we set out to come here and play, things aren’t going well for us but we didn’t want to set up shop and invite pressure and feel sorry for ourselves. We wanted to go out and do what we were capable of and what we should be doing, and that’s keeping possession and attacking teams. I thought we had done it really well in the first half, but their goal before halftime took the wind out of us a little bit. At stages of the second half, we did we but probably didn’t get to the standards we had set ourselves in the first half. The guys’ mentality is to go out there and win every game. It’s not happening right now but we don’t have guys who are going to sink under pressure. It’s time that we turn it around. It’s easy talking about it. We can talk about winning games, but it’s time that we really need to start getting our act together and turning this season around.

On Sporting’s attacking struggles…

I feel it’s just a matter of time. We’re missing some players, haven’t had a consistent lineup and haven’t been able to find ourselves in the attack yet. We’ve got too many quality players all over the field to not create chances or score goals. I’m not going to lie—it’s been massively frustrating. I’m not worried that it’s going to be like that all year. I’ve got confidence in my teammates and myself that we’ll all come good, but it’s time to do it now. We can’t keep losing games. It’s a horrible position to be in and a horrible feeling after games. We have to turn it around and the good thing is we’ve got two home games coming up. So we need to go and take the first one. We have to go out there with everything we’ve got, fight for everything and come out with three points. No other result is good enough for us.