Quotes: Sporting KC 1-0 Portland Timbers FC - July 31, 2016

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes

On better results at home these past five games...
Consistency in the lineup. That’s one. A bunch of guys have stepped up and have really met the call for duty. The consistency in the group is one and the other is we are not making mistakes. We are managing games a lot better than we did at the beginning of the year. That’s a good thing. We have six or seven potential starters on the injured list right now. That’s a good thing moving into this month of August where we have 13,000 miles of travel and the number of games we are going to play. It is important for those guys to start to get back and they are.

On subbing Caleb Porter on for Jacob Peterson…
I thought he needed a sub. But he just banged knees so when he said he was fine, good, and ready to go it was an easy decision.

On Jake’s back-to-back goals...
I have known Jake for a long time. I had him in 2004 and 2005 leading in the U20 World Championship when I worked with Sigi (Schmid) and I have always thought that Jake was the best guy on the team in movements of the ball. He was hungry. When you saw him in the final third he was hungry. I have always thought that Jake was a little too energetic at times. He is almost to excited in and around the box. I think what has happened is that he has calmed down a little bit in and around the box. When you look at his finish last week that was a world-class finish. But he took it based on being in a good place because of his thinking.

I would take it a different place and say that last week’s game was the best game he has ever played for us from just a pure decision making point of view. His decisions to go to goal, to serve, to shoot, to keep the ball for us, to spin out in the corner was top class. That is what has been great about him. He has done really well for us in his decision-making.

On Vermes' 100th regular season victory for Sporting KC...
I didn’t realize it was coming until someone had mentioned it to me the other day. That has been one of the biggest things; the fact that it has been with one club. I don’t look at myself as a mercenary or someone who goes from place to place. I see myself as more of a builder and being a part of the growth of this development is probably more of a humbling aspect.

On consistently having close games with Portland...
I would say that we probably should have scored two or three more goals during the game. We were in and around their box. I will give it to their goalkeeper. He made a couple of really good saves, especially with the one on Lo’s header coming across the box. We had some great opportunities. He had a great save with Dom’s shot. He tattooed that ball and they were screening him the whole time; he hit it right between the player’s legs. He hit it off the half volley, hard shot, but he did well to react. So he made some really good saves. At the end it really doesn’t matter. Whether it is one nil or its five nil. It’s the three points that are very important. Especially when we play them back-to-back.

Sporting KC goalkeeper Alec Kann

On his preparedness for today’s game...
I felt very prepared and felt confident. Coaches have done a great job making sure I was ready. I have played a couple of games with the USL team in the past couple of weeks, which has been nice to stay sharp. So I have felt very prepared for it.

On how playing for the Swope Park Rangers (USL) prepared him for today...
Just getting games is the biggest thing as a goalkeeper. Dressing and traveling for games is nice, but at the end of the day you need to play games. At that level, the coaches do a good job, to make sure that you are ready. It is nice to have those opportunities if games aren’t coming with the first team.

On what the defense did to help with the shutout...
The guys out wide did a good job closing down servers by not letting them whip balls into the box. I know that was a hard part of the game with Adi who was a big presence in the game. They were closing down shots around the parameter box. We didn’t really let Adi compose himself on the game and we were able to pick up a lot of the second balls. We didn’t really let them into our half. 

Sporting KC forward Jacob Peterson

On staying in the game after an early knock...
I had a knock this week that I was dealing with. Of course any time it seems like when you have something like that, you get hit on it during the game. It’s just something that flared up, but after that it calmed down and then in the second half it started to pick back up. I think the training staff did a really good job because earlier in the week I didn’t think that I would be able to play.

On the goal…
It was a good ball in. I just had to flick it in. Benny [Feilhaber] put enough pace on it. There wasn’t really a whole lot I had to do, I just had to get to the near post and direct it on target.

On playing through knocks…
That’s just the mindset of this group. I wouldn’t say it is anything special with me. The leaders of this team have instilled that type of mentality and it filters down through the team.

Sporting KC defender Ike Opara

On consistent battles battles between Sporting KC and Portland…
Obviously, it starts with good players on both sides. It’s a competitive group on both sides that always makes for a good game. That being said, it’s a matchup that a neutral fan can enjoy and it was one of those games that I’m glad we came out on top.

On Alec Kann’s performance…
Alec is talented, it’s just tough to be the number two. Those are a lot of guys that don’t get recognized or seen or known about. For me, I’ve built chemistry with Alec through preseason and the times that I wasn’t in the lineup, playing with the second squad. We know how confident Alec can be. You saw that one time he was calm when he thought maybe the ball was going over that line. That’s just his demeanor. You don’t worry about Alec behind you just because of the confidence he brings, that quiet confidence. And tonight it showed again."

On Peter Vermes’ 100th regular season win…
That’s big time for him and this franchise. When he took over, they were in a little bit of a rut. I remember coming to San Jose and watching how Sporting evolved over the time that he has been the coach. Luckily, I got to come here as well and see it first hand and what he has meant. The pride, the passion, he lives and breathes KC and this franchise. He demands success and it shows throughout the franchise.

Portland Timbers Manager Caleb Porter:

On Portland's chance creation...
I think we created a lot of chances, but we didn’t finish. We had five or six clear chances. I don’t think it had anything to do with chance creation, it had to do with finishing.

On Portland's lack of points in the last six games...
I think you’re always concerned about points, because points matter in the grand scheme of things with where you sit. The Western Conference is tight, and we knew coming in that it was going to come down to the last 12 games and basically four or five teams, and how many points those teams get. We knew it was going to be a difficult game and we had some key guys out. I thought that showed at times defensively. We also knew we had our first choice attacking group which is why we created as many chances as we had. We missed a breakaway in the first half. In the second half we had another breakaway. Jack Mcinerney had a clear chance on the left side and Darlington (Nagbe) had a clear chance at the top of the box in the first half and then Adi had a wide open header, so you’re not getting much better chances than that. Usually our quality shows through. We have been a good attacking team and we have enough quality for those guys to finish those. 

Overall I thought we were good enough to deserve a point. Up until the goal they scored, we were as good or better than them. In the first half, it was the same thing and it was a very even game. They had the once chance and we had probably two but it was a tight game. Then obviously they had the set piece. I thought the foul was soft, I didn’t think it was a foul. I watched it on film and they gave them two cracks at it. They let them play the first one, we cut the cross, and then obviously on the second one we have to attack the ball. I thought they were better for the next ten minutes after that goal and then at the end I thought we had enough chances to earn a point. We have fallen short the last two games, but I don’t think it’s because we played bad. We certainly can finish better and we certainly have not managed a few moments defensively as well as we should.

On Portland's late push to equalize...
Well, we made a few subs and went to three in the back. We obviously made a push. We were down a goal so we made a push to try to pull out a goal and get a point. Like I said, I thought up until the goal they scored, things went as planned. They had trouble creating much. We were defending very well. We were organized as a team. Like I said, we had several chances on the counter. They found a goal off of a set piece, from a questionable foul and now the game turns a little. They gain a little life, we lose a little life and they have a few more chances. I thought Jake (Gleeson) came up big a couple of times and then at the end we had a couple clear chances to level the game.

On the matchup between Sporting KC and Portland...
I think you have two competitive clubs and two competitive coaches that value hard working guys who never take a play off. You look at Kansas City, they’ve had injuries, they’ve put new guys in. There is not a lot of drop off with how hard they work and how organized they are. It’s the same with us. We’ve had more injuries than anybody in the league this year. A good example is last year we were the best defensive team in the league and now both of our center-halves are out. You still see with Jermaine Taylor and Amobi (Okugo) that they did a good job. That’s because this is how we built our team. Our guys fight and they have character. When you put these two teams together, neither wants to give an inch. I think both teams are extremely organized. This game comes down to the little moments, and they found a moment on a set piece and we didn’t finish our chances.

Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson:

On his overall impressions of the game...
It was disappointing. I think coming on the road with the table the way it is and against Kansas City, we had to at least try to get a point. I thought we had chances to do it, but maybe we didn’t quite finish the way we wanted, but we can take a lot of positive away and put them towards our game next Sunday.

On adjustments for next week’s rematch with Sporting KC...
I thought for the most part we looked pretty good, apart from a ten minute period after they scored. The big thing is to be bigger on set pieces. We can’t concede those. After we conceded I think we sat back a little bit, but in the first half we pressed and had possession. I thought we were the better team if not just as good as they were.

On improving set piece defense...
Set pieces play a big part in whether you win or lose. They are a big part of the game. I think we just need to be a little bit more focused in those situations because they can hit you like they did today.

On his several big saves...
Obviously you don’t want to be making too many saves. It’s one of those things where you can make all those saves but if you don’t get the result, they don’t really mean anything. I still have a lot to focus on, get better at and have a more complete performance rather than just saving the ball.

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri:

On his takeaways from the game...
Of course. There are a lot of positives things that you can get from the game, but obviously the result is not what we want. That’s bad because we needed the points, but looking forward we have a (CONCACAF) Champions League game and I think we are in good shape to start winning games. We have to find a way to win games. I think scoring the first goal would be very important for us in the next game against KC.

On playing a team with a similar style in Sporting KC...
It was a very intense game. You could see both teams fighting, and trying to create a situation from nothing. It was very intense but that is normal at this point. I think we are both very good teams, but tonight they got the result. We have to think about the Champions League now and keep working.

On the rematch with Sporting KC next week...
We need to focus on the important moments like when they have a set piece. In these kinds of games where it is very close, set pieces are very important. They got a chance, they scored. We got a couple, but we couldn’t. I think the intensity was good, and we have to keep working like that.