Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On the status of Alan Pulido…

I don’t know yet. I just know that he has a laceration that probably requires stitches but I don’t know yet. I’m going to find out more after this.

On the team’s three matches in eight days…

We were definitely tired here at the end. It was evident we were tired. I thought LAFC was strong throughout the game today. What we found was a way to come back. We have a really interesting, and I mean it in a positive way, a really interesting mentality within the group because they definitely believe. Even though today we weren’t as sharp as we have been with the ball and our circulation of the ball on the field, we still found a way to chip away at the other team. It’s not easy for a team like us when we always try to drive the game at home because teams know that coming in, so they want to take advantage of that. But I wouldn’t do it any other way. It’s part of the entertainment value of this game and for our crowd. We’re going to constantly try to be on the front foot. We’re going to constantly try to be a team that is aggressive in our mentality to go and score goals. Credit to the guys for staying in the game and finding a way to come back. It’s never easy playing against a team that goes down a man. We found a way late in the game and we held onto the win, which was great.

On playing against 10 men…

One is we were tired. Two is you can’t deny the fact that they’re a very good team and they have some game changers. When (Carlos) Vela comes on and you bring him off the bench in the second half, he’s a different player. Just like Alan. Alan scores an unbelievable goal and then he gets hurt. It’s a fine line sometimes in the game. Today, it’s like you look at the Portland game. We played really well in that game and the scoreline, to me, at the end of the day doesn’t represent how well we played. Whereas today, I think that LAFC played – probably over the course of the game – I don’t want to say they were better than us, I think they were just in the game a little bit more and a little sharper at times than we were. But we found a way to win because of a couple things: one is mentality and two is we have some players who can change the outcome of a game. The other is the relentlessness to score goals. The guys keep going after it which is great. 

On the depth of the team to get results despite injuries…

Everybody understands their role and responsibility when they go in. There’s an accountability factor as well. It’s hard to go into a game and not realize that you have a role to play to try to help capture the result, keep the result and the guys feel that. That’s a sign of a team that wants to compete. That’s a great thing. We also have to get healthy across the board. I’m amazed sometimes as how guys injured and for all the things that we do and all the training and all the preparation but it’s a tough game. You have to run a lot. It’s a lot of demand. This was a tough game with three games in a short period of time. Hopefully we’ll get healthy and be back.

On the effect of injuries on tactics…

An example is, after we scored the second goal, if I had another sub I probably would have done something at that moment. But I was unable to because we had to use the sub for the injuries. There’s also an accumulation factor. The other problem, too, is that you’ve got to remember that you have certain guys being injured that are already out which actually could have started this game or maybe Wednesday. So it’s that rotation of roster that you’re also unable to do. The good thing is we’ve got the game next weekend and then we’ve got a little bit of time off. I hope to get quite a few guys back after that.

On attacking Tristan Blackmon after his yellow card…

We’ve been pretty good down the left-hand side, which was his right side. Daniel’s movement to play the one-two and get around him, I think that’s what killed him. Daniel was going in on a breakaway. I think at the end, he had to make a decision and he did. The good thing is that it helped us.

On the team’s comeback victories this year…

I think it’s a belief the guys have. That’s what I think. I think it’s a belief. They have a belief in the way we play. They feel good about the way they’re playing. I think that’s what it is. It’s a belief. 

On the contributions from Academy products…

It’s what we planned for, right? It’s what put a lot of time into trying to create. The pro player pathway is the lifeblood of our club moving forward. The more of those guys come in and make their contributions to helping the club win – because that’s the most important thing for us – it continues to validate what we’re doing. But we’ve still got to get a lot better in that world. We’ve got to keep developing players at all different positions and they’ve got to keep contributing. Because at the end, for us it’s about identifying, it’s about realizing talent individually, it’s about then teaching them how to come together and win as a team, and then at the end when they come to the first team it’s all about winning. Along the way, they’ve got to contribute at all those levels and they’ve got to keep getting better at all of those levels. Some of them are doing a really good job and others will get opportunities and they’ve got to continue to take advantage of those opportunities that they get. They’ve got to continue to grow. It doesn’t stop here after you have a good game here and a good game there. You’ve got to keep working. 

Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi

On the team’s ability to come from behind and win games this season…

I think it’s having faith in our style of play and not getting away from it if we concede. You never want to go down early in a game, or at all. The fact that we continue to trust our style and rely on that throughout the whole 90 minutes, eventually that’s going to tire a team out and we’ll break them down. Our finishing has been pretty good this year, so having faith in that, our style of play will get us the win eventually. 

On his substitution for Jaylin Lindsey in the first half…

 It’s obviously unexpected. It’s unfortunate that Jaylin had to leave with what looked like a hamstring injury. Whenever you’re just thrown into a game, it takes a little bit to get your wind in your legs. It can be difficult, but I try to work myself into the game as much as possible. That’s tough for me to do because I like to go, go, go. I thought that once I caught my wind and got halftime underneath my belt, I was able to be comfortable with where I was. The red card certainly helps. We were patient, moving the ball and when the opportunities came we finished them.

On his offensive moments…

It’s about recognizing the moments that I can be a threat. It’s also the guys around me recognizing when I get forward as well. Guys like Roger (Espinoza) and (Gianluca) Busio protect me when I do. There’s a nice little ballet that happens, if you will, between the three or four of us that provides cover even if I do go forward. 

On the squad’s ability to withstand so many changes in the lineup…

I think it’s guys stepping up in times when they’re needed. That’s the nature of this game. You’re going to have injuries. It’s a physical game and we’re getting to the hot season as well. Bodies can break down. We’ve always been a team who has used our depth extremely well. You see guys like Felipe (Hernandez) now stepping up and having a huge role in the past couple games. Guys being ready when their number is called, I think that’s why we’ve had success with some guys being out.

On how long it took to get comfortable in the game…

Probably not until halftime. You’re thrown in there without a proper warmup and you’re a little bit hyped up as well because it’s an unexpected call. Halftime was a chance for me to get my body right and feel good about it.

On battling for minutes with Lindsey…

It’s been great. I think any time you have a healthy competition between guys at a position is great for the team. I think we have that all over the field. It pushes people, and I know it certainly does for me. You obviously want to be on the field and it makes you train and play harder. I think you see that from top to bottom on our roster.

On Daniel Salloi’s impressive play this year…

I think it starts with his mentality and how he came in this preseason. He just seemed like a different person. Everything about his game has been lightyears ahead of where I think he was last year. That starts with his mentality. He came in, worked extremely hard and pushed himself. Both sides of the ball he’s been very good for us. Every single time he gets the ball, he’s dangerous. He’s putting himself in really good spots in and around the goal. Most importantly, he’s putting it in the back of the net as well. I love what I’m seeing from Daniel and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon this year.

Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi

On attacking Tristan Blackmon on the left flank…

It was a very frustrating first half. I can’t say that we were the better team in the first half. I think they kept the ball well and they had a good gameplan. Things changed. They got a red card and we reacted well. Everything went our way. It’s just one of those games that (it’s a matter of) if you can find the back of the net and we did twice. That was enough. It’s tough. It was weird weather, as well. You have to react to everything. It looked like we did. I couldn’t be happier. We got the three points. This week was very important and a tough week for us. Hopefully next week we can get the three points too and then we have a little bit of a break.

On the weather…

I honestly didn’t understand what was happening. We went from sun to pouring rain and you couldn’t see anything. Our jerseys were sticking to our bodies for the rest of the game. It was very annoying. I’m just happy it wasn’t like that the whole game because that would have been even more annoying. Things happen and you have to react well. We did. That’s why we deserved the three points I think.

On the assist from Felipe Hernandez…

It’s actually amazing. I just watched it back. The way that he did it, I think that’s why I could have so much space and time. That just shows his talent and his understanding of the game. He gave me two assists in two games. I hope he never stops. This is very nice. He deserves it too. I’m glad I could finish it because sometimes you give great balls and your teammates don’t finish it. I want to give him credit as well because it was a great assist. 

On his mentality coming into this season… 

Back home, it was a difficult time because of COVID we were still in a lockdown and we couldn’t really do anything. I went home and spent time with my family at home and went to workout. Those were the two things you could do. I worked with an Olympic trainer and he helped me a lot with his mentality and the trainings he did as well. He taught me a lot of things. I think it’s adopting to my game. I want to give him credit because he changed me a lot. I think my teammates saw it too. I feel it too. I’m glad I worked with him and when I go home again, I’ll do it again in the offseason.

On adjusting to the team’s injuries in 2021…

Props to the guys who are coming off the bench. It’s not me who has to adapt. It’s them and they are doing a great job. A perfect example is Graham Zusi and Jaylin Lindsey. The way they are switching from game to game and both of them having a great mentality towards it, it just drives teams. I think it’s amazing. Just an example, in the Euros you watch Italy and they’ve used every single one of their players. That shows a great team chemistry and the way that players react to the game and come off the bench.

On the important of depth in the squad… 

It gives us confidence that whoever comes off the bench is going to do the same thing. It’s been great so far and I hope it’s going to stay like that. I hope there aren’t going to be many injuries obviously, but whoever comes in performs well and I think it’s amazing.

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