Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On what the difference was in the second half…

Up until after we scored the goal and five minutes thereafter, we controlled the game. I've always been a big believer or it's been my experience that one of the hardest things to pull together with the team early on is offense because a lot of it has to do with true timing between players and lines of players. There's a lot of details that have to happen. We controlled the game in the first half. Maybe they have one shot. I don't know what their stats were. I know watching the game, there wasn't really anything overly dangerous. It was really about us making sure that we were more disciplined in the second half because that's where you get antsy, you get inpatient, and all of a sudden you make a mistake and now the other team capitalizes because that's what they're trying to do. They're parking the bus. Their line was deep, as deep as a lot of teams that have played here in the past. They were really deep and the two lines were on top of each other. It wasn't that they were just deep. They were just on top of each other. And so in the second half, we talked about at halftime that we were going to have to try to play over the top a little bit, especially when we were in their half of the field with the ball and especially when the ball was on our left hand side because we had control of that left really well. Daniel was making a lot of vertical runs. Johnny needed to kind of make horizontal runs and then go vertical and make his penetration. We started finding that a little bit more, which then what happens to a team is the backline starts dropping more and then you have a place to put underneath. That helped us for sure. It was an opportunistic goal, which we deserved so that was good. And we found a way to grind out the three points.

On Remi Walter’s versatility…

When we recruited him, we knew that he’s an eight/six, not a six/eight. And so he's really helped in that when we've had issues in the past, especially last year when let's say we had to move Ilie back to central defender, he could easily drop into that place. And then Busio came along, but when Busio left then again, we had somebody to help us out there. So, yeah, he's very versatile. And the other thing, too, is that he's a really interesting guy. And I say that because when he first got here, I think it took him a few games to kind of get his feet wet and see what it was really all about. And he just kept climbing over the season. And I can tell that he's come back completely different this season in that he just has a better understanding, better confidence, and so like him scoring today, it's because something that he set out to do is be more productive on the stats in assists and goals. So good for him to get that one today.

On securing a 1-0 win…

You have to manage a game, and I don't think we were great at it today. We have some things that we have to be better at. I already told the guys we'll talk about those things tomorrow. But one thing I do think is that we defended well. If you look at last week to this week, the one thing that we did much better was that we were much more balanced in our attack, which helped us defend situations when they won the ball much better. And so we can build off that. That's a good step in the right direction from last week.

On Marinos Tzionis playing at winger and Daniel Salloi playing at center forward to end the game…

(Tzionis) can play on the right or he can play the eight or ten as well. Daniel's versatile. I Ttold him he should have scored that goal at the end there. It’s a good little combination play between him and Johnny. Daniel is a handful, especially because his movement off the ball is so good. He runs, he tries to exploit space on the field, and when he does that, it makes defenders have to make decisions that they don't want to – it puts them under a lot of pressure. And in regards to Marinos, he's going to come along. The problem is we just haven't had time on the training field enough yet. So he's getting thrown out there and he's just trying to find his way. He's a soccer player, so it's not like he hasn't done this before. The only difference is there are certain things that he still has to understand that we're trying to do. But he's finding his way and he's doing some good stuff at the moment. It's going to be this crash course. It's going to be fast and furious for him.

On the team’s play in transition…

I think because we're so early on in the season, it's a tough one because some of those transition moments also have a fitness requirement that goes with it. And so there is a physical aspect that you need when you keep the ball like we do, because you still have to move and you have to work to be in good positions. The other part is that when the ball turns over, especially if you're high up the field like we are because our position is allocated in their half, is that as soon as you lose the ball, you try to press right away to see if you can turn them over really quickly far from your own goal. And so you also expend a lot of energy there. And then what happens is if you get pushed back and now you win it, you have to determine do we really have what it takes to go counter and do we have the right numbers? And so there's a lot of that going on. And I think early on in the season, sometimes it's a little tough to gauge that. But I think we showed patience today and that wasn't easy because when you play your first game at home, everybody wants to do something. They're antsy ad they want to get it done. At halftime I was telling them do not lose your patience because I just didn't want us to get in a place where we lack discipline and then they square the counter on us.

On coaching against Paulo Nagamura, Jimmy Nielsen and Chris Martinez…

He's actually coming over to the locker room so I'll meet him here in a few minutes. We really didn't say all that much after the game. I always try just to be respectful with the opponent. Win, lose or draw - just try to shake their hand and move on. It really wasn't that big of a deal from this point of view. He's been here a long time and he's also been here a long time as a coach of our second team. We've played the second team many times, so he's been on the other side so it's a little bit like that. Except it wasn't a second team. He was playing with a really good team. It was a tough battle, but I know a lot of their staff. Two of them played for me and one I played with in Chris Martinez. They’re just a good group of guys and they'll keep grinding away because that's what this profession is. They’re finding it out now.

On the importance of homefield advantage…

I'm very transparent in this kind of stuff. We played a really tough game last week. I don't necessarily know if the score was indicative of how the game went because we had some really good chances but we didn't put them away. The game could have been different. We should have scored early on in the game, which would have put us up 1-0 and maybe the game now changes, but that is the game. The good thing is our response was very good and for us to come out of here with the three points right after that and then also at home in our home opener, I think it gives us a little boost of confidence which is what we need going in as we keep trying to forge ahead and keep getting better because we have to get a lot better. We do. We're not there yet by any means.

Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi

On the difference in the second half…

I think it all started with how we played in the first half, really. The patience was very good. We lacked maybe a little bit of the final pass movements or finish, but I think that possession made them a bit tired and opened up things in the second half. I thought we continued to be patient in the second half. When you do that, eventually spaces are going to open and they did. We had a really good movement on the outside right. It was a good ball in by Johnny and a little bit of a scrum, but Daniel did well to keep it alive and then a great finish by Remi.

On Remi Walter getting a second chance to score…

The first chance he had, that would have been a worldie. That was not an easy shot. It came out to him very fast. Unless you hit it absolutely perfect, that's a really difficult shot to hit. But obviously Remi had a short memory and when he got the second one, he buried it.

On playing against a team coached by Paulo Nagamura and Jimmy Nielsen…

Nothing but love for those guys. I have a great relationship with all of them and I’m ecstatic for their opportunity to lead a team. I can't say enough about those guys. I think they're going to certainly bring an identity to that team. You can just see they have some good energy, so wish them all the best in the future except, of course, when they're here and playing us.

On the chemistry in the midfield…

No matter who we have in the middle there, whether it's because of injury or rotating guys, we have all the confidence in the world in these guys stepping up and the team not missing a beat with whoever is in there. I thought Felipe had a very strong game. He was very good in his pressure. He broke up some balls for us in really good spots and going forward was good as well. And then Remi kind of filling in at the six was very disciplined as well. He kept the ball for us and was in good spots. I thought our midfield was solid even late in the game where naturally the team trying to push a bit will get some possession, we were still pretty disciplined in our spots and those three guys did a good job.

On the team securing a 1-0 win…

If you do your job defensively and keep them at a zero, it gives you a good shot to win the game and I thought that's pretty much exactly what we did today. We were quite organized. They're a dangerous team, especially in behind. They've got some speedy guys up top and I thought we did a good job in the backline covering each other and really respecting that from them. It always feels good to get a shutout and that, in turn, gives you a really good chance to win the game.

On responding after the loss with a win at home…

As far as we're concerned, every home game, we expect it to be a win. We treat this place as a fortress. It's the atmosphere that's created here and our ability to really keep the ball and break a team down. We expect to win games so it was good to get the first one here and hopefully that will give us some momentum and we'll keep that up.

On focal points for the team after playing Atlanta…

Watching that game back, we actually did a lot of good things in that game. Their goals we felt like were mistakes on our side. It wasn't so much them breaking us down. It was a mispass here or there but things that are easily rectified. So it wasn't some huge shift or change that we focused on this week. It was buttoning up those little mistakes that we made but keeping the energy we had in the first game and the discipline.

On wearing armbands in memory of Jenifer Burton Evans…

It's going to be tough to talk about this one without getting emotional, but I think it says a lot about Gigi. The whole team went out and honored her. She's meant so much to so many people and this little testament to her is really the least we could do, but I'm glad we could do it.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Remi Walter

On how it felt to score the goal…

I'm very happy because I scored my first goal at home, and it's very cool for the team because we won the game so everybody is very happy today.

On getting a second chance to score in the game…

In the game, there was a lot of wind so it was very hard to have a great shot. But at that moment, I was very focused on the ball and I had a great shot so it's good because in training, I score a lot. That's why the coach tell me always Benzema, Benzema because I score a lot. So this year I will try to have a lot of goals and a lot of assists because I know I have the quality for that so I'm focused for that. Today is very good because I helped the team to win the game. I'm very happy for me, but for the team too.

On finishing the chance to score a goal…

It's good because we tried a lot in this game and I had my second shot go in the goal, so it's very good because everybody tries to score and everybody tries to help the team to win the game. Today it's for me, so it's good.

On playing defensive midfielder…

I think we have to be smart, and in my position, I can play the six or eight. It's very different. The job is very different, but I think I'm a smart player and I can adapt my football on this team. So when I play in the six, I'm focused on being more defensive than offensive because it's very important to not let them have a chance to score for the opposite team. I think we did a great job today and the six position for me is cool. I can play eight, too, so I adapt my football.

On having Roger Espinoza in the midfield with him…

It’s very good because he's a whole player. He has a lot of experience. He has played a lot of games so it's cool to play with Roger, with Felipe, or with Uri too. I think we have a good team so I'm very happy to be there and play with those players because we have good communication in the game. I think, in the middle, it's a battle so every game is a fight so we have to fight for that and win the game so today it was a great job for all the team.