Quotes: Sporting KC 3-1 FC Dallas - September 18, 2015

Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes

On Sporting KC’s 3-1 win over FC Dallas…
I thought it was one of our better games in a long time. I thought possession-wise we were excellent. We were also really good with our patience. A lot of times at home we get a little impatient and we open ourselves up. But tonight we were solid in that regard, very smart. I thought we moved the ball well and in the first half we just didn’t have the right final pass. I thought the second half we were much hungrier in that regard. We kept our shape and our balance, and guys were really smart with the game plan. We created a number of chances, and the goals that we scored we were on the front foot.

On the performance of Graham Zusi…
I think he had a really good match. He’s getting to a place where he’s closer to feeling 100 percent in regards to his physical capacity. For awhile he struggled over the course of the season. He’s played a lot of games injured or not even close to being 90 percent, so I think it has a lot to do with him getting healthier. And the other thing is that when he is playing as a winger, he is so much more effective. We’ve asked him to do a lot this season—play the middle, play defensive midfield. Sometimes that’s not fair to him, but credit to him as well. He understands that he has to do whatever he can to help the team. He had an excellent game.

On snapping a five-game winless run…
The highs can never be too high and the lows can never be too low. But we have an expectation every time we step on the field and that is to win. Obviously we haven’t been in good form of late, and we realize that. We’ve given up some soft goals in games, and that’s not who we are. But one of the things I like about the guys is that they will make sure it doesn’t happen again and they will get back to where they were. Seven of the guys that started tonight played in the [2013] MLS Cup Final. It was one of the first times this year we were able to start that many guys who were fit.

On the performance of Benny Feilhaber…
Benny was effective because he played a very specific role in the game and it made him very effective for the team. When he’s playing that way, he winds up contributing for us in many different ways in goals and assists and making sure he’s in a dangerous place on the field. He makes the other team have to make decisions that are imposed upon them because of what we’re doing, not because of what they decide to do. When he’s in the game and gets into the places he was tonight, he is a very good player.

On the key to Sporting KC’s improvement on Friday…
There was consistency in the group. Like I said, we had seven starters in this team who played in the [2013] MLS Cup Final two years ago. That’s a big help—a lot of experience and a lot of maturity. The other thing is I just saw a confident group out there. We were very disciplined to the way that we wanted to play and we didn’t get ourselves out of shape. We didn’t overextend ourselves or leave ourselves exposed defensively. Other than the goal they scored, I thought we really did a good job against them defensively.

On how the end of this season can be different than the end of 2014…
I don’t give any credibility to one year to another. My whole thing is centered around who we are now and what we’re doing. What I like is the performance—the way we did it, the way we won with the number of goals we scored and the way we controlled the game. That’s a good step in the right direction and closer to the form we have to be in at the end of the season.

On Sporting KC’s balanced attack…
Last year was a little different. Dom really ran the show and we had to rely on him immensely. I think the great thing this year is goals are being scored by committee. He’s still banging in the ones he has to as well, but he’s really come on strong as the season goes on. Krisztian [Nemeth] always adds something at the right times. Again, it’s nice to be able to have a couple guys you have to focus on. It’s only going to get better when those guys are not only playing in the areas of the field where they can be really dangerous, but we’re also getting the ball in good spots. When you play like we did tonight and you move the ball like we did tonight, that is going to happen on a regular basis.

Sporting KC defender Matt Besler

On returning to Sporting Park for the first time in a month…
The one thing that stood out to me was the fans tonight. The crowd was excellent. It may have been because we haven’t been here in awhile. It’s been four or five weeks, and it hasn’t been the easiest of stretches for a number of different reasons. But it felt great to be back home and credit to the fans because they have stuck by our side during this run we’ve been on. They were excellent tonight and very loud. It felt like a regular Sporting Kansas City game. It felt like we were back.

On the performance of Graham Zusi…
I’m just glad he’s on our team. He’s an excellent team player. With a guy like Zusi, sometimes you take a guy like him for granted because you’re around him every single day and you know what he can do. But when you take a step back and realize what he does, that’s when you really appreciate him.

On the importance of Friday’s victory…
There was a bit of pressure, but I think there’s always pressure at this time of year, especially at home, to get points. There definitely wasn’t panic. Pressure is different than panic, and we were very composed all week long. We have a foundation and an identity that everyone believes in, and we trust the process. So we’re going to stick to that through thick and thin and we believe that when we play like we can play, we’re going to win games.

On the performance of goal scorers Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber…
I think everybody stepped up. These guys have been doing it for us all year. It’s great to see Dom working like he does and Benny getting involved. That’s what we needed out of him and something we specifically worked on—trying to find Benny in dangerous areas of the field. So I thought as a team we were able to do that, and Benny was able to find those spots.

Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber

On the performance of Graham Zusi...
Zusi had one of his better games this year. He’s so important to us. He provides so much speed down the sides and opens up the defense. The play that he had to Krisztian [Nemeth] when the goalie made an unbelievable save—that’s vintage Zusi. He’s been dealing with some injuries this year, but I think he played a fantastic game today. He’s vital to this group and I know he’ll keep this going.

On Sporting KC's improved defense...
What the defense did very well was they stepped and won the ball before they were able to trap it. So we didn’t have to recover as much because they were winning the ball right away. When we can preserve that energy and have it going forward, it makes all the difference. We didn’t get as tired as we did in the games we played away from home the past few weeks.

On Sporting KC's balanced attack...
I’ve been here for three years and I can tell you that this is easily the best offensive team that we’ve had in the last three years. There’s no doubt about that in my mind. Krisztian [Nemeth] brings something we’ve never had on this team—that composure on the ball, being able to draw and turn defenders and create for himself and others. Obviously we know what Dom can do, and Zusi is coming along on the right side.

On the importance of Soni Mustivar...
I can never forget to mention Soni, because to me he is the most important player on this team. He allows everyone in front of him to do what they do. He covers our (butts) so much and he wins those second balls. He opens up the game for us. This team is different than the last two years, and we’re a better offensive team, no doubt about it.

On his free kick goal in the second half...
They’ve got some big guys on that team—some six footers or taller. So I knew it was going to be tough to get the free kick up and down from that distance. I saw that [Jesse] Gonzalez was just cheating a little bit to the wall side, so I thought if I hit it clean enough, I could maybe catch him. Thankfully that’s what happened.

I had a couple free kicks in the first half that weren’t so good. On one of them I told Zusi, “If this one’s bad, you can have them the rest of the game.” And I didn’t hit a good one in the first half. But when the free kick came up, I kind of begged him and said, “Zus, I know what I told you, but can I have this one?” He kind of laughed at me, but I got my quota of one free kick goal a year.

FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja

On FC Dallas' 3-1 defeat…
We pushed all the way to 90-plus minutes. I thought we could contain it. We had a game plan where we wanted to neutralize them and attack and it went well. We had a couple plays where we couldn’t do what we wanted, but at the end they found the goal off a set play and that made the difference. I thought they played better than us in the second half and I want to congratulate them on that. They got the points and, especially in the second half, they deserved it.

On goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez’s performance…
I’m proud of him. He made a few saves that showed how he is growing. His performance today proved one more time that he deserved to be the goalkeeper in the team.

On containing Sporting KC…
I thought for most of the time we could neutralize them. I thought we had a game plan where they couldn’t have ideas in the first half. I thought we controlled the half and I was pleased with it, but in the second half after the goal it was a difference story. Kansas City pushed the game wider. The spaces for us were wider because we were putting more people up top and then we gave a couple opportunities to a team that is good.

On planning for Sporting KC’s balanced attack…
I think they have good power in those players and they are very good. Those guys are players that are scoring during the season and that’s why we presented a plan at the beginning to clog the middle and keep the ball from them.

FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman

On FC Dallas' 3-1 defeat…
I think we came in with a really good game plan to stay organized. We knew we had to watch this team on set pieces. It’s something they are very good at. It’s something that we trained for and it’s frustrating to give up goals off something that we trained for.

On going against Dom Dwyer…
He’s a really physical player. It’s fun because he brings that competition out in you. He’s a very physical forward who uses his body very well. It’s a good challenge and a good test and it’s always fun to play against other top competitors.

On goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez’s performance…
We trust Jesse [Gonzalez] back there. He has a big body and can cover a lot of ground. He kept us in the game early with [Chance Myer’s] header in the first half and then [Graham] Zusi’s chance in the second half. He kept us in there and we wish we could have kept a clean sheet and avoided giving up some dumb set pieces.

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