Adrian Zendejas - Swope Park Rangers vs. OKC Energy FC - November 4, 2017
Nick Smith

Postgame Quotes: "Whatever we need to do, we will do it to bring the cup home."

Swope Park Rangers head coach Nikola Popovic

Thoughts on the match…

First of all, I think we have to be proud of our players the way they fight for the club and the will they showed with how much they wanted to win this game. I think we have to appreciate that and congratulate them. It was a difficult game because it’s a clash of two different styles. One team that wants to keep the ball, who wants to try to play possession and high pressure. The other team wants to keep the ball in the air, win the second balls and play more direct. For us, it was a little bit difficult sometimes to get the control of the game because the ball was bouncing around in the air. It was always a battle of trying to win the second balls. I think whenever we had possession, we were able to create some chances. The game went to extra time and I think we had the best chances to score.

On 11 rounds of penalties…

It’s very unusual. The thing is when the first five are happening, we had two chances to win the game. And we were not able to do it. It was crazy but of course penalties are 50/50. But what we did when you look over all the game, I think we deserved to go on.

On the play of Adrian Zendejas…

I think it would be unfair to speak about one player after a fantastic exhibition. When I talk about everyone, we can not only speak about this game. We have to speak about the entire roster who were present and who helped. Without them, it would be impossible to bring the cup home. It’s a final, it’s a title. But now we are heading to another one. Whatever we need to do, we will do it to bring the cup home.

Swope Park Rangers goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas

On his winning penalty kick…

That was honestly the very first penalty kick I’d taken in my entire life. It’s always been a dream of mine to have that moment as a goalkeeper. I’m glad I made it. It’s a lot of pressure. We had opportunities to finish it – unlucky that we didn’t. But we stuck with it.

Thoughts on the match…

They knew how we played. They knew what we’re strong at. They calculated it very well. They were looking for openings, going left and right. Obviously, it didn’t work out.

On his notes in the shootout…

The funny thing is, there’s only two of the players that I knew which way to go. The others were just trying to get in their head. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

On the momentum for the final…

I told the boys, we shouldn’t be happy yet. Enjoy this night. But don’t be happy yet. Last year, I think we were happy with just the Western Conference (championship). This year, I told the boys we have one more to win. Now we’ve got to come back strong.

OKC Energy FC head coach Jimmy Nielsen

Thoughts on the match…

It was an impressive performance. That Reno game took a lot out of us and so did San Antonio last week. The way they fought through it out there tonight was exceptional. It was a tough game for us. Swope had a lot of possession. We were running a lot without the ball. I think we got that adjusted better in the second half but we were up against a good ball possession team. There was a lot of running without the ball out there and that’s hard. We battled through the 120 minutes. It came to a crazy penalty shootout. I think it’s a shame there has to be a loser. I think both teams can be very proud of what they have achieved this season. It’s a proud moment for us but unfortunately it was just not meant to be tonight.

On losing in an extended shootout…

Tonight, they can leave this place with their heads up. They can be proud of what they did here tonight. They can be extremely proud of what they did this season. It’s been a pleasure, day in and day out, to work with this group. They can definitely go into the offseason with their heads up.

On his takeaways from the team…

It’s a very easy group to manage. They respond extremely well to what I ask them to do. They work extremely hard day in and day out. I don’t think there have been a lot of games where I have questioned their work ethic. It’s obviously annoying emotionally to leave it like this but again they can be very proud of what they have achieved this season.

On the outcome…

I thought going into this game it was an even match-up. The question mark was were we physically prepared? I think you saw, in the last 30 minutes, we were very, very tired. The guys battled through it and it comes to a crazy penalty shootout.

On being back inside Children’s Mercy Park…

When I walked into the stadium, it made me happy. A lot of good, happy memories from this place but I’ve got to keep that separate. When we’re out there, it’s a game like anyone else.

On the deadlock through 120 minutes…

It couldn’t get any closer. I feel horribly bad for the guys but at the same time there is nothing to be ashamed of. We did everything we could. It was not meant to be tonight.

On looking ahead to 2018…

We are going into the offseason now. We’ll have individual talks with guys. We definitely have a special group to build from.

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