Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on the match…

The first half was my fault, because I think that we weren't prepared to play in the system that we put together. We just didn't feel comfortable. But we made a change in that first half and went back to a 4-3-3. The guys started to get a little more comfortable. We finished off the half in a good way. We started to look more like our identity. We started the second half and it was on. I thought the guys took to it really well, created a ton of chances. The bottom line is what I've been saying and that is there have been moments during the season where we have lacked concentration and we've given up some soft goals. But the one thing that is there with these guys is the fight, the effort, the intestinal fortitude. It's there. And anybody who can't see that doesn't understand sports, doesn't understand a team that actually is committed. That's a really big thing. And the other thing, too, is you have got to take into consideration the weather has been terrible here. It's been cold. It's been rainy. It's been overcast and all those other things. Now all of a sudden today you have the temperatures that you have. Usually what happens is you have a slow build or something like that. All of sudden that gets thrown on the game night against a team that that's what they play in every day and they train in. We're not accumulated to that at all yet. So the fact that we were able to withstand the amount of time that we played in the game is a credit to those guys because that's not just being Sporting Fit, that's also being mentally fit. The guys were strong tonight. That was good.

On the contributions from Nikola Vujnovic and Marinos Tzionis…

I think the goals were good. There was some good play in there. Again, we have got to keep getting better, but it was good. It was good. For Marinos to be able to go as long as he did, with not having played full 90 minutes on a regular basis for us, it was good. I know he was struggling. He seems to like to run with the ball when he has the ball, but if he doesn't have the ball, there’s not much running going on and that has to change.

On the offense finding its confidence…

I think we've been building confidence on everything. I really do. I think that second half we came out flying right from the get go. We were in it. You could tell the guys were moving the ball. They were making good runs off the ball. Everything was penetration in the box, so it was good.

On taking momentum from this win…

I guess it remains to be seen. But like I said, I believe that we've been building towards this for a while. I think we've had really good performances. I thought our performance this past weekend in New York was very good. We probably, no doubt, we deserved the point, but we were really close to getting three. So, we've been building towards this and it has a lot to do with the fight of the guys and some guys getting back into form and some other guys still trying to get acclimated to who we are. They're still not there yet, but we have got to keep working towards that. The good thing is in one way, this game was on Tuesday and we have a couple of days to try to get ready for a tough opponent in Portland.

On Felipe Hernandez playing as a holding midfielder…

This was his best game since he's come back this year. In all games, this was his best game for sure.

On the impact of the substitutes… 

When you bring Daniel Salloi, Remi Walter and Khiry Shelton and then you bring on Johnny (Russell) thereafter, those are guys that obviously have different qualities and so they changed the game for sure. They brought a different presence into the game and you could tell. They then threw one of their guys on in the back that is a starter so then it was also a chess match at that point. It was good to be able to have (Robert) Voloder late in that overtime. That was really important because I knew something was going to happen. I just didn't know what position. It actually worked out that it was a central defender.

Sporting KC forward Nikola Vujnovic

On scoring his first goal for Sporting KC…

It feels amazing. There is no greater thing for a striker than to score goals. But it was a huge effort from the team to come back from 2-0. It's not easy against any team. We showed character and scored four goals after that. I’m really happy for the team and for myself.

On the team’s comeback mentality…

When we came to the halftime locker room, we looked ourselves in the face, and we talked to each other about how this is not good enough. We have to come out and compete, give everything that we have, the goals will come and we'll eventually come back and win the game.

On what he has to do to score more goals…

Just keep believing in the things that I'm doing. The first one is the hardest one I think. And now it will be easier from here.

On the crowd’s energy tonight…

I felt the crowd, especially when I scored. I was so happy for myself and for them and for a second, I thought I would score another one but then I got subbed out. I felt the energy from the crowd after, but it is what it is.

Sporting KC forward Khiry Shelton

On the goals he was involved in…

Sometimes you need some luck, and that's what happened on the first goal. The second goal, I've been consistently working hard trying to press defenders and I was able to pick this one off and just put it away. 

On what this win means to the team…

We've been working hard. We've changed formations, we attack training every day, and give 100% effort. We needed this. We needed to be lifted a little bit because we didn't have the start we wanted the season. The effort has been there, we've just been unlucky here and there. The mistakes we've made have been our fault. It's not like a team has actually beat us. It's been our own mistakes. We needed this tonight and we're happy with the result.

On his mindset while on the bench…

We just played a game against New York City FC, so my legs are a bit heavy. A lot of guys that started were just as heavy. Preparation is the same. Just stay in the game while you're on the bench and almost pretend as if you're out there. That's how I approach it every time I come off the bench.

On the offense starting to click…

If you look at previous years, it just hasn't clicked yet for us this year. Once it does, you can see what happens. This is just a small example of what can happen when we do click. We’re going to head into training this week and continue to attack and continue to put the effort in because that's what needs to happen for us to get that little bit of luck. That little edge that we need to win games. It's there though. It just hasn't come together yet.

On the mindset in the locker room before the comeback…

A lot of young guys are out there. It's their first time. Their nerves are there. That's understandable. I've been there before, too. Once we switched the formation back to our original formation, you can see things start clicking at the end of the first half. When we were in the locker room, we were lifting the guys saying, we can come back. We've done it so many times before for the players that have been here. That was it. Just lifting one another because we know what we can do when we do click. It's just that little piece of lifting one another.

On Marinos Tzionis’ performance…

He's amazing on the ball, very creative. Likes to take people one on one and it just opened up. I held my run a little bit and he slips the ball through on the first goal. It was pretty funny. It's a bit of luck. I hit it, I try to pick out the back corner, hits off the keepers, foot off the defender's head and into the goal. I'll take it. I needed that personally, but he's an amazing player and very creative.

On the team’s mindset going forward…

It was well done. It's easy to bash on players when things are down and not going the right way, but nobody has done that here. We continue to push each other week in and week out knowing that something's going to come from it. There's no negative energy here. Like I said before, we know when we click it's game over for most teams, we just haven't had it yet. Tonight, there was little spurts of it. I wouldn't say the whole game was like that, but you see spurts of it. And as long as we're able to showcase that, then we can move forward.

On the energy on the field after Sporting scored the first goal…

You look over sometimes, you feel the energy. I'm big on energy and kind of took a peek over to their bench and everyone's heads down, and they're kind of exhausted and we're like, come on, this is ours. This is for us right now. So let's take it. They don't want it like us. We worked way harder than they did. Our trainings are crazy hard so it's like let's get going. So that was it. A little bit of list of energy and that's what we did.

On the energy Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the rest of Children’s Mercy Park brought…

It definitely helps that they were there. A lot of people don't really know that they come to our games. The crowd started going crazy and then we're on the field chatting to one another like let's go, let's go. It's for us. This game is for us.