Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on the match…

They had a chance there at the end, for sure, but I’ll speak about us. We were good. We were really good. They made a lot of changes, too. They came out with the idea that they were going to go after us a little bit. I thought we were really, really good with the ball. I thought, in the first half, we were dangerous. I think, in the second half, we were much better in combination play in and around the final third. If one ball had just gone our way a little bit. Give them a lot of credit – they worked hard and they defended. I can’t say anything but great things about the guys’ effort and their commitment. It was a really high, high level performance today. Their attitude and their mentality and to play the way they did as long as they did was a heck of a performance from that perspective.

On dropping points at home…

Every time we go on the field, we want to get three points. When you play games the way we’re playing them, we’re actually at times taking points from other teams as well. Just like we did last week against Minnesota being a man down for as long as we were. In the end, there are things that are happening in games that are going to help us in the long run. Some of it is the points and the ties that we’re getting. They’re not losses. We’re not losing and the other team gets three (points) and now they kind of climb the ladder. This game is about playing well. If you play well, then you give yourself a good chance to win. Today, I don’t have any complaints about the guys because when I look at the way the guys played, I look at how we are in a lot of ways struggling with rotation of players. It’s no disrespect. We’ve just got a lot of young guys that are third tier right now. And all the other guys are out right now because of one thing or another. Gadi (Kinda) today, he could have been out of the game but he fought through it for the rest of the game. So I think with the group of people that we have on the field, we’re playing well. We’re right there. I have nothing but high, high praise for the team right now and the way that they’re playing.

On the takeaways from a game where Colorado nearly scored at the end…

We almost won with Johnny (Russell’s) ball as well. We could have stuck that away. We could have won last week at the death, as well. Those things happen. They’re aberrations in games. I’m talking about the way the game was from start to finish. When you play like we did with over 60 percent possession and 88 percent (passing) accuracy, we’re moving the ball, we’re creating chances. You give credit to other teams, too. You can’t just look and say, ‘They’re not playing well.’ They’re holding on for their lives at times trying to do everything they can to keep the ball out of the net. I always believe that we always get everybody’s A game. We for sure got their A game today.

On how Roger Espinoza played at holding midfield…

A lot better than I expected. He said to me during the week, ‘Finally, you’re playing me in this position.’ He was joking around. Roger is a heat-seeking missile. A lot of times, you’ve got to be really disciplined in that position and that’s not necessarily in his vocabulary at times. And that’s okay because he works in the way that we want him to do in his position that he normally plays. He was excellent today. Probably because I didn’t give him a lot of instruction and I just let him play on his instincts. When he does that, he is really good. He was big time. He really was. His timing to win balls and he did a few things that I’m actually laughing (about) in my head because I was just really surprised that he did a couple things that he did and they worked out really well.

On the play of Cam Duke…

He was good. He is starting to understand that there are qualities that he has that he has to set other guys up that he is playing against. He has to use those qualities and know how to set the opponent up. He’s starting to get there. His breakaway speed when he turns and then separates between guys is fantastic. He just needs a little bit more in the final third. If he gets that, he’s going to be a difficult guy to deal with in games and especially in tight spaces because he’s just so quick. Guys aren’t going to be able to recover and stay with him.

On not using any subs…

We were playing well. There was no drop off in our team. They put (Michael) Barrios on as a center forward for one reason only and that was to play him over the top. I thought our backline handled that incredibly well. I just felt there was good rhythm in the team. We were creating chances. The combination play in the second half in and around the box was tremendous. Sometimes you don’t want to break that. It doesn’t say in some rule book that you have to use your subs.

Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell

On his goal off a free kick…

I think it’s probably more on the left side where a right footer would usually hit it just slightly, so I think the goalkeeper was maybe thinking Alan (Pulido) would go his side, or I would go his side, so he leaves that side open. Obviously they tried to drop a man back on the line as well. I always had my mind to go up and over the wall, obviously not to put too much power on it cause it’s difficult to control it from that distance. Just tried to get a good connection, make it clean, make sure it got up and down in time and managed to tuck it away. Obviously it was good to get the goal back but disappointing night overall to be honest.

On not being able to find a winner despite dominating the game…

It was frustrating, it’s the same old story at home. We’re making it hard for ourselves, we’re allowing teams to get a foothold in the game before we really start and then from there, we dominated the game, created chances, just couldn’t take them. My one at the back post, that’s a really difficult ball to try and control, I get good connection on it – and as my foot’s coming back down I hit the ball again which takes the speed out of it which stops it going in to be honest, I think the cross contact, it’s going to go in. Just as I’m lunging and my leg’s dropping, I reconnect with it and kind of just take the sting out of it. It’s frustrating, tying any game at home, but especially when a team’s right behind you and you’re trying to put a bit of distance between you and them, just makes it all the more frustrating.

On what the team needs to do better at home to achieve better results…

We need to start games better, we need to stop letting team’s score against us, conceding first, and then we’re always in a fight to get back in the game. We keep showing time and time again that we’re more than capable of doing it, but we’re finding it difficult to turn results around at home recently, which isn’t good enough when we’ve got aspirations of finishing top of the West, we had aspirations at the start of the year going for Supporters’ Shield and we can’t continue to drop points at home if we want to do that.

On if his variation on free kicks will keep goalkeepers guessing…

I think so, I think the one in Seattle was probably too close to try and go up and over, so I was always going to go power, goalkeeper side, and I got – not lucky – but he takes a step behind his wall which obviously helps it but I think it’s going in anyway. That’s a few I’ve scored on both sides now, it keeps goalkeepers guessing that they don’t know what side we’re going to go. It’s not just me, we’ve got Alan (Pulido) there that can hit them, Zusi can hit them, Luis (Martins) can hit them. We’ve got so many options but in that moment I felt confident, felt good and I’m happy to get the goal but like I said earlier it’s disappointing not to get the three points.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza

On playing the number six position…

At the beginning it was tough just trying to get myself going, but it’s a position that I see guys over the years play in our team, sometimes I do that function when I’m playing as a number eight, if the number six leaves, I drop into that position. I’ve played with Ilie (Sanchez) in there in the past so it definitely is a new position playing by myself but I would say that wherever I can help the team – except for the goalie spot, don’t get me in there because we’d probably lose bad – but other than that, if you need me any other position, I’ll play it. Today, that’s what was needed and I did the best that I could to help the team.

On the team’s performance despite a disappointing result…

In my personal opinion, I thought we did well. I’m a guy that when we play well and we lose the game, I’m okay with that because that means we’re playing the way we want to play, and tonight I thought we did that, we played the way we wanted to play and we added one point. We still have our confidence there but I think getting a point is a lot better than anything else. I thought we did well, obviously I wanted to win but it gets tough, Colorado is a great team, they’re one of the top teams in the West and in the league so it wasn’t easy for us. It’s not easy to play a team three times.

Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser

On the match...

Really hard fought game. Kansas City in Kansas City is one of the most difficult in the league, in my opinion. We had some really good moments to start the game. I thought we started off really well. Made a few mistakes, lost a little bit of confidence. The second half of the first half wasn’t quite like the first half was. The second half we came out and put together some good play again, but you’re never going to beat Kansas City down, and surely enough, they came back and came back really strong. It was a very, very wide open game at times. Very back and forth. As I said, it’s one of the toughest places to play. They’re one of the best teams in their stadium in the league. I was really proud of how the guys fought and created some really good chances and gave ourselves a chance to win. That’s one of the things about this team is that we—through our fight and determination—we’ve lately been giving ourselves a chance to win every game. That’s really a great position to be in, where you feel like going into every game you have a chance to win. Certainly, we got tested as much as we are going to get tested by a very good Kansas City team, but I was really proud of the effort, again.

On what tonight showed about the team's progress...

I think two things stood out to me. One is when you look at how the game started, I think [the team] should feel confident that when they do things the right way and execute the right way that they can be really effective even against good teams, which I think is obviously important once you get down to the end of the year and you’re into really meaningful games against really good teams. And then the other part of it that came out of it, even when things don’t go well, through fight and determination they can keep themselves in games and still manufacture ways to win games. I thought both things were on display tonight. Obviously you get down to the end of the year, you play against the best teams. These are characteristics that are going to be important.

Colorado Rapids forward Jonathan Lewis

On what has worked for him in recent matches...

Just playing with a lot of confidence, trusting the team, playing on the front foot and just pressing. Just emptying out the tank. Coming into games, I just try to be as confident as I can, just be as aggressive as I can starting with the defensive responsibilities leading into attack. And just trying to be as clinical as I can. For me, I think it’s a credit to the team. They’re getting me the ball in spaces where I ca go 1v1, get the ball in behind where I feel like I’m dangerous. It’s just about taking the opportunity and continuing to work hard and continuing to, from the start of the defensive end, creating attacks from that way.

On his goal...

It was just an opportunistic finish. We had a really good build-up play. Andre [Shinyashiki] set me up perfectly. [Graham] Zusi made a good block, but I was able to get the second ball and follow up on the rebound. Just keeping my composure when [Tim] Melia was recovering. I felt like I was going to score today and I felt like, honestly, I could’ve had more today. It’s just keeping the rhythm going and keep being aggressive, keep getting into the box and hopefully finding more goals.

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