Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on the match…

First of all, we’d like to win everything that we play in but unfortunately, when you’re playing seven games in 22 days and we play four games in 11 days, with altitude and travel away from home, the reality is that I’m not going to risk guys that have high loads. I’m not going to risk them. I’m just not going to. Obviously, it was a very young team in a lot of respects. That is what it is. I’m not here to make excuses. The other team played well. Congratulations to them and good luck to them to move on. But I can’t risk players on my team. We’ve been through this before in 2019. We’ve traveled across time zones in incredible weather. We sold a player. We have a new player coming and he’s not here. We have some guys that are injured. We just couldn’t afford to risk a bunch of other guys. Does anybody want to lose like we did today? No. We don’t want to but I’m not going to put the team in jeopardy.

On balancing his team selection amidst a busy stretch of the season…

Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. People have to take the opportunity and they have to go and run with it. They have to do their best with it. It’s an experience. For some of them, it’s not a good experience. They got it handed to them and they’re going to have to bounce back from it. It’s just the way it is. I do know this. I know that there are other guys on the team that need a break. Alan (Pulido) has been away with the national team for a long time. He can’t just come in and play every single minute. He played a boatload against LAFC. So did Roger (Espinoza). So did a lot of guys. I just have to be very careful. It doesn’t help when (Jaylin) Lindsey goes down with an injury. That’s a guy I count on to play a lot of games. Now he’s out. At the end of the day, that’s a decision I had to make and if anybody wants to make a criticism to the team, they can make it at me. I’ll take the blame on it. I’m the coach, no problem. Bring it on. I’ll take it.

On the competition…

It can be a great competition. I just think that there’s a lot of different things that go into it. Unfortunately when you pool the things together that I’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t give you the flexibility to do what you want to do. If I had a completely healthy team at this time, maybe it’s a different story. We just sold a player, as I said. We have another player that’s coming in but he doesn’t have him his immigration stuff sorted out yet. All those things have a factor. We have another player that is out. We have a couple that are injured. And we play four games in 11 days. I’m not sure what you guys think they are, but they’re all not supermen. That’s for sure. Any competition that you play, you have to always weigh the risk and reward. At the end, I would not change my decision based on what the score was. I’m not going to risk the guys and put them in a bad situation and now we’re out a ton of guys that have been playing a lot. I just wouldn’t do it to them. I can’t change the circumstances that we’re in currently and I can only base decisions on the circumstances that we are in. Sure, if you came to me and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to play these three games. We’re going to play them over a 10-day period or Saturday/Wednesday/Saturday.’ Okay, that’s great if that’s how we’re going to do it and we have no MLS games in there. Works out great for me because now we’re focused on that competition and we can put our team out there. We had to move our roster around today. Ilie Sanchez played in the game. Gadi Kinda played in the game. Remi Walter. These are guys that have been playing a lot of minutes. Again, they can’t play full time and there’s a lot of other guys that just can’t (either). It’s simple. Is it a valuable competition? Sure. It’s a great competition. You have to make (decisions) based on what your circumstances are at the moment and right now, we’re struggling with players.

On the team’s youth influence…

The score tells you something. I think that all of these kids – our 15’s, our 17’s, our 19’s – they need to be playing international competitions against Mexican teams. A lot of these kids that are in our team should have already played against Leon’s 15’s or 17’s four or five times before they even play this game so that they know what they are playing against. But we’re not there yet. We’re working towards it. When that happens, that will be great. I still think the experience for our guys was good because they were shown what it’s like playing against a team of that caliber. Every experience can be really valuable, especially if you learn from it…Every player has to find his way in this game. I’m a big believer that 95 percent of player development comes from the player. It’s the club and the staff that create the environment. Now the player has to grow from that…You have to have self awareness. You have to have self evaluation. You have to leave the game and evaluate the way you played and the decisions that you made in the game. Then what you have to do is you have to go back and you have to see if you can learn from those things and get better the next time you’re out on the field. That’s the whole thing. And the other thing is too is you’ve got to find a way confidence wise to get yourself back again. When you lose, it doesn’t matter if you lose 2-0 or you lose 6-1. At the end, your confidence is struck a little bit. It’s got an impact to it. You’ve got to work from there.

On the play of Grayson Barber…

He did really well. The last two games that he’s played in for us, he’s grown from the last game to this game. He’s very competitive. He’s making good movements and good runs and he’s working really hard. Hard work is going to always lead to good things in this game. I think this was a good performance for him. He was dangerous.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Cam Duke

On helping the other young players handle challenging situations in the game…

Obviously, when I went in we were down 3-0. I just wanted to come in, make an impact and kind of lift the team’s spirit. We got a goal, but unfortunately we weren’t able to continue.

On handling the fixture congestion…

We have a lot of games in such a short period of time, we just needed to have everyone ready. You saw it tonight, we had a lot of new players starting and that’s just how it has to be. We need rotation, we have a lot of guys dealing with stuff so these next couple of games, we’re going to see a lot of rotation in the lineups.

On what the team has had to handle over the past six days with travel and games…

It’s very difficult, we’ve been getting in late from the away games, getting in at 2 or 3 a.m. and it’s a quick turnaround, but I think we’ve been managing it pretty well. We’re just trying to recover as much as possible to get ready for these games coming up.

Sporting Kansas City forward Grayson Barber

On how difficult it was to face a full strength Club Leon team with a lot of young players…

It was tough, especially with us not getting much time to train with a bunch of games going on right now. We went out there and we did our best that we could do.

On making his first two appearances for the club over the last two games and getting an assist tonight…

It feels good, it’s just a lot of games back-and-forth and coming in and making sure my body’s recovered but it’s nice to get an assist and be able to help out the team.

On growing into tonight’s game and gaining confidence as the night wore on…

My first half wasn’t the best, but going into halftime I couldn’t let that affect me going into the second half so I just had to keep the same mentality and go out there, work as hard as I could and thankfully I was able to get the assist to Cam (Duke).