Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On Jose Mauri’s performance…

He’s done some really good stuff. I’m happy for him that he gets the goal. I know that it was kind of a routine deal. People make mistakes. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score. He got the first one for us and that was a big part of today’s theme: getting the first goal and getting the first goal early. Him doing that for us was good and good for him. For the majority of the game, he played very, very well. He helped us in a lot of little situations. He’s got good instincts to close guys down when they’re turning. All good steps in the right direction.

On the status of Alan Pulido…

It was just more of a knock than anything else. He’s put in a lot of running and a lot of work into the last two games. I think he’ll be okay.

On getting a home win…

We always want to win at home. There have been some good games, but we just haven’t been able to find the game-winner. Today, it was an important thing for us to get the first goal because we wanted to be out in front and let the other team have to chase the game a little bit and put them under pressure and hopefully create some other things. We gave up a few chances today. That part I didn’t like but we also created a lot of other chances. We probably could have scored quite a few more goals. All in all, a good day (with) three points. It’s good to get that, especially with where things are right now in the table and also the game here this Wednesday with Minnesota.

On playing Jose Mauri in the holding midfield role…

I think Remi (Walter) has grown into that position, but Mauri doesn’t have the fitness for the eight. He just doesn’t have it. And he’s probably more of a six/eight than an eight/six. Remi is probably more an eight/six than the other way around.

On the team bouncing back from losses with wins this year…

That’s what it really comes down to is mentality. It’s a great commitment within the group to be able to turnaround and come back from something like that. There’s a lot of times in this league if you watch teams, they’ll be doing really well. Game after game, they’re doing well. And then all of a sudden, they lose (multiple games). They’re riding the wave as long as they can and then they kind of fall off it and it takes them a little while to get back on it. The guys have done a really good job of turning that back around again for the next game. From that point of view, it’s been really good.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia

On producing a complete performance and recording a shutout…

Yeah for me the most important thing is just the response. To go into LAFC and collectively have a poor performance all around – and then to come home where we haven’t been performing, we haven’t been scoring as many as goals as we’d like, we’ve been giving up too many – and to jump on them really early, I think that shows tremendous growth and tremendous confidence of our group to respond like that after a tough result.

On Chicago’s chances throughout the game…

I think towards the end of the game, the game slowed down a lot, it lost its juice from both teams. When you’re up 2-0 and you can squeak out – call them what they are – lucky crossbars, we’re on the fortunate side of it, it is what it is, it doesn’t make a difference, they didn’t score. We got the shutout, great response, good overall performance. I thought the adjustment we made from the first half to the second half, dropping Mauri a little deeper, we knew we were going to give them that space 35 yards out and they were going to connect a little bit more and have those shots, it’s something that we were comfortable with.

On Jose Mauri’s performance…

I’m excited about him. From what I understand, he had a very long period of time without playing and we literally just threw him into a game. So I think he needs months to get acclimated, I think even as a foreign player coming over here it takes six months to get acclimated to the league and then also add in the fact that he’s probably had an extended period of time where he hasn’t been playing, I think his response in the first game, the things he does for our team, the way he wants to possess the ball, he’s got a very good right foot, he’s got a very good left foot, all those things are positive things and he’s only going to get better.

On the consistency to post the best goalkeeping stats in the league since he became a starter for Sporting KC and what that says about his skill set…

Being fortunate to be on a very good team and being fortunate to be on a team that commits to a system. We have a very specific style that we’re going to play and we have a very compact defensive system and I’m just a benefactor of that system and club.

Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell

On the importance of scoring early…

It’s massive, especially with our recent form at home, we’ve been allowing teams to get the first goal and we’re having to claw our way back and we’ve dropped too many points here. It’s not good enough when we set the standards that we do. We came out in the right way, we got the first goal, bit of luck behind it, and the second one is great play down the left hand side and obviously by Daniel (Salloi), forces the ‘keeper into a low save, he’s done the right thing going across goal and the ‘keeper’s not able to get enough on it and luckily for me I beat Alan (Pulido) in the foot race to get there. It’s a good one for me to get the goal, but especially with the home games we’ve got coming up it’s about taking maximum points here.

On if his experience with Sporting KC and in MLS has met or exceeded his expectations since arriving in 2018 on the night he made his 100th MLS regular-season appearance…

Definitely exceeded expectations. I spoke so much about it, I came here for a change, to get a little bit of a spark back in my game that I felt was missing. I just wasn’t enjoying myself playing. Coming here has given me that, I’ve had an amazing four years here and getting to 100 games – it’s a privilege to play that many games here. It definitely exceeded my expectations, you never quite know coming into a league that you don’t really know an awful lot – obviously I watched it, but until you actually come and play and test yourself in it – and even since I came in ’18, I feel like the league has grown in standard every year. This has probably been the best year, you look at the quality of players, the quality of teams throughout the league and it’s constantly growing. It’s exciting times to be a part of it.

On having a statement response following last Friday’s loss to LAFC…

That was in our mind, that was a freak result. Anyone that’s watched us know that isn’t us. I said it after the game, that was probably the lowest I’ve felt since I’ve been here after a game. It was a freak result, we know that one game wasn’t going to define our season – as tough as it was to take – this week was all about getting back to what we do, get everyone’s head right and focused on this game. I think we showed the way we came out that there was no hangover from last week.

On Jose Mauri’s performance…

He’s been great. Obviously he’s not had a lot of training time, not a lot of time to get him integrated. He’s fit straight into the system, I think everyone can see the tenacity that he’s got, the quality that he’s got when he’s on the ball as well. I’m sure the fitter we get him then he’s going to be a key part of our team moving forward. We’ve got so much depth in that area now as well, we’ve got so many quality players who can play in that position. We’re really overloaded in the middle so it’s nice to see him coming in, he’s done well tonight and obviously getting the goal as well – that will do him the world of good.

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Raphael Wicky

On what happened on the second allowed goal…

Yeah, I'd have to see the full -- I haven't seen it on TV, the full sequence. I just remember the ball was on the sideline and then we have the one with Mauri (Mauricio Pineda) in the back where he loses the speed dual with I think Salloi, was it, I'm not sure. But I will have to see the full sequence, what we can do better there and besides of winning the one-on-one obviously.

On the three substitutes coming on to start the second half…

No one was injured. We were 2-0 down and I wanted to push the game, bring three fresh legs in there. Three fresh guys in there, and try to come back. That was the thought.

On what was said at halftime…

There wasn't much talk. I said we're making three subs, a few corrections on how we want to go, and tell them, guys, let's try to win the second half. That's our goal. Let's try to win the second half. We drew the second half.

We had I think a few really, really good chances to come back and then you all know in football, if you comeback 2-0 is a dangerous result, if you score a goal, you're on again and yeah, we were just not able to convert the chances we created.

On his thoughts on Federico Navarro…

Of course it's not easy but I saw a lot of good things out of Federico. It's what we knew of him, winning a lot of balls. Obviously after the yellow card he had to be a little more cautious, and there were certain moments where normally I think he would go even stronger and win even more balls but he showed a lot of character, a lot of strength in the duels, and also with the ball I saw some decent things.

I think it's important that he integrates now into the team, gets to know his teammates better and better and I think he will be a good addition to this team.

On if he’s happy with Federico Navarro’s performance…

Right now, immediately after the game, I am happy with his performance. I will have to watch the game again in more details, but I think he won a lot of balls there, and he was also very involved in the build up game and he was decent there.

On the international break and if it made the team lose momentum coming off the road win against the Red Bulls…

Look, it's a two-week break for everyone -- or for us, for them, not. They had a game last weekend. When you come out of a two-week break, we said, guys, let's be there from the start. That was our team talk just right before we went out, and let's be there from the start. There's no time to come into the game. We had a two-week break but it's very, very important to start well. We didn't do that. We came out very poor. We actually had a big chance before the 1-0, and then obviously we know what happened in minute four and minute six.

So yeah, is that because of the two-week break? I cannot tell you that. But of course we have to come back mentally in a state that you start the game well, that's very important, when you are taken a little bit out of the game rhythm.

On the upcoming match on Wednesday....

Yeah, we are going to talk about the game. We are going to regroup. We are going to get fresh again and then we go to D.C. and we start from zero. We have got to come back -- come out of the locker room obviously way better than today, and it's a game where we go with the mentality of winning. We played them. We played them there already. We lost 1-0. We know what will come to us. We played them at home, we were 2-0 up, minute 80. So, that’s it, that's the game. It's going to be a tough game again.

But like every game in this league, we go there with the mentality of winning. Every game starts at zero and that's how we are going to go there, regroup, get fresh, prepare and go and take the next opportunity.

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Luka Stojanović

On what happened so early in the game to see the team down 2-0…

Yeah, they start maybe these first ten, 15 minutes of the game, much (more) aggressive than us, and one little mistake by us opened their game. I think in this 10-15 minutes we suffer a lot of pressure and it was difficult to cover a lot of space because they attack us also from the side. They really played the first 10-20 minutes.

On what head coach Raphael Wicky told the team at halftime…

(What) we know. We have experienced guys and we know that we can change the game. I think the second half, we make more chances, we create more chances. We play more direct to the goal and I think we hit two or three times the post and we have clean chance one against one.

We just go out, don’t receive a goal and to try to score one, because that one can be, how they score alos the first one, the first one for us can be a game-changer.

On whether the team lost some momentum due to the international break…

Yeah, that's exactly, also, we have two players on the national team, they didn’t have time to come. And also I think Calvo has an injury in the last game with the national team. I remember we was good in the last months, we were in a lot of games and we don't concede goals. But as I said, they opened us very quick and this was the point of the game.

Chicago Fire FC Defender Jonathan Bornstein

On what happened on the second goal…

I mean, it's tough to get a goal right after you concede a goal but I think the players found a one-on-one with Mauri and we were trying to push him to the side and I guess we didn't track well enough. To go down 2-0 is always tough to come back. Thought the guys showed a lot of heart. We didn't have lack of chances. We actually had quite a few. We have to finish those if we want to get back in the game. It was tough to go down 2-0 so soon. It was too much in the end.

On whether the team was resigned to a difficult game after going down 2-0…

Of course, anybody, if you go down 2-0, you're asking for a hard game. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in. You know, they have a great crowd and they are a good team at home. They have been doing well consistently through the year.

To go down 2-0 so soon definitely wasn't our game plan but as I said before, we had our chances. We hit the post twice. Had quite a few chances in the second half. Luka's header, the one with Chino (Offor) right there and if we put away any of those, you know, we get ourselves back in the game and unfortunately we couldn't find our way back in the game tonight.

On playing as a traditional center back in the second half…

Yeah, we changed to a four-back system.

It was good. I've played that in the past and I've played that with the national team before and Chivas USA for the entire year in 2008. Nothing new. From that spot as a three-back, left center back or four-back, I feel comfortable. So yeah, felt good.

On if the team lost momentum due to the international break and whether it’s good to have another game so soon on Wednesday…

Yeah, you never want to break. But actually we needed it because we have so many games back-to-back-to-back within midweek then the weekend then midweek for six or seven games straight, so it's good to have another chance to redeem ourselves coming up here very quickly, but I think we had enough time to prepare. I think we were good to go. Obviously the first goal was unlucky, and it's nice to have a challenge right away so that we can rebound back from this.

Advertising

Advertising