Christian Duke - Swope Park Rangers vs. Sacramento Republic FC - October 28, 2017
Nick Smith

Postgame Quotes: Swope Park Rangers 1-0 Sacramento Republic FC

Swope Park Rangers head coach Nikola Popovic

On the match...

I have to say congrats to all our players. They were fantastic. I am very proud of how they played. Playoff games are a little different than regular season games. During the first half we had a bit more possession and in the second half there were times where we lost possession. But I think, whenever we have the ball, we have a lot of quality and we created some good chances to score more goals. It didn’t happen but it was a fantastic performance by the team and once more the Swope Park Rangers are in the final.

On Kharlton Belmar’s goal...

We made some changes during halftime and right away we see the result through the goal. Of course, being able to be in the lead gave us some confidence in being able to manage the game and try to score a second one. It didn’t come but we were able to win and move on to the final.

Swope Park Rangers midfielder Christian Duke

Thoughts on the match...

We knew coming in that Sacramento had been playing well and it was going to be a tough battle. I think we did what we had to do. We made some adjustments at half and tried to move the midfield around a little bit more, and that’s where our goal came from. We both came into a good pocket. It was a good run from (Tyler) Pasher and (Kharlton) Belmar did a good job of finishing it off.

On the timing of the goal...

It was big time. I felt we were under pressure a little bit toward the end of the first half and we came out strong, came out flying and we did what we had to do to finish the game off.

On being ready for the Western Conference Final...

Of course. Let’s go back to back. Let’s do it.

Swope Park Rangers goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas

On going back to the Western Conference Final...

It’s a goal of ours to defend our cup. This is ours and this is what we fight for.

On the SPR defense...

It was huge. It’s playoffs so every shot counts, every little thing counts. So today was very big time by my guys. First of all, credit to Darrin MacLeod. If it wasn’t for him last week, we would have never been here. It’s a team effort. It’s all of us in this together.

On Kharlton Belmar’s goal...

We said in the locker room that we have to start early and that is exactly what all of us did. We brought it to them. W\e got a goal. That’s what it takes.

On awaiting the team's next opponent...

Hopefully we play at home. It makes it easier on us and it is hard to play here.

Swope Park Rangers forward Kharlton Belmar

On the game...

That was a tough one. We knew Sacramento is a good team. We played them throughout the season and it’s always been a battle. We came out wanting to implement our game plan and that’s exactly what we did. We got a goal and closed the game out but credit to Sacramento. They are a great team and gave us a run for our money.

On the team's halftime changes...

We set out to grab a goal and fortunately the goal came a lot sooner than we might have suspected. But after that, we are in the playoffs, we are playing to win, so we locked it down and kept the ball out of the net.

On going back to the Western Conference Final...

It feels amazing. A lot of these guys were here last year and did it last year so for us it’s a wonderful feeling. We put in a lot of work day in and day out. It isn’t just the guys in the starting 11 either. It’s the guys who don’t even dress too. Our training sessions are top notch and that’s a credit to everybody who is playing.

On the team's postseason success...

At the end of the day, we all want to win. .We all want to grow and develop as players but we are still playing competitive matches and we all want to win so that’s what we are here to do.

On his goal...

It’s a training ground goal: work the ball outside and try to find one of us in behind. (Tyler) Pasher was able to get on the end of a ball from James Musa and I just followed up the play and fortunately I was in the right place at the right time and the ball came to me.

Topics: