#SKCvHOU Quotes: "This comeback is hugely important for us"

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On the emotions of the final five minutes…

Honestly, the way I would say it is that it was completely two different games from one half to the other. The first half we were non-committal and we were playing backwards the whole time. We allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game and in the second half, we pushed the game. We took it to another level. We dictated the game and we pushed forward. The opportunities were created because of our mentality to go forward, our mentality to get in the box, and our ability to finish and play through teams if we want to. But it was a mentality, it was an attitude, and it was aggressive mindset, and that was the difference between the two halves, and the difference in the game. I think when we play with that kind of intensity in a game, I think we’re a hard team to play against. 

On Shelton and Rubio coming off the bench…

Both guys have been injured. Right? So, I have to be smart about how I bring those guys back into the team and what kind of minutes I can manage what players, because as you guys know, I only get three subs. So as a staff, I think we managed those three subs very well. But I also think that, and I say this all the time, but that our culture is very strong, and I love the fact that the mentality of the guys is directly aligned with the culture of the club, because they understand that they are going to get their opportunity. And at the end of the day, if they are upset with me because I didn’t start them, or I’m not playing them, I’m okay with that. I can handle that all day. But at the end of the day, when those guys walk inside those white lines, it’s that group of guys. It’s not me in there. It’s them and they have got to fight for each other, and they should never be disrespectful of each other and those guys aren’t. And I appreciate that very much.

On the change in aggressiveness…

When I was done talking to the team in the locker room, I knew that we were going to go. My belief was that if we got the first goal, there was no doubt we could get a second one. And then there was a chance that we could get a third one. I knew that the game in the second half had nothing to do with tactics. It had everything to do with an aggressive mindset and dictating the tempo. The funny thing too is that the referee actually changed his way of managing the game and the tempo of the game by how fast we were playing. You could see such a significant difference between the two teams that I actually believe we changed his mindset.

On Ike making a mistake…

It was an individual mistake. Look, I understand that those things are going to happen sometimes and they do. The most important thing is the way we react as a team. I think that our reaction as a team, I can’t even say that it was because of what happened with Ike, but it was that no one had the right mentality. And in the second half, everyone had the right mentality, which was the difference.

On offensive options off the bench…

Well, it’s something that we worked on in the off season. And it was something we wanted to make sure we had more in our team off the bench. We are able to bring players in that could change the outcome of the game by their impact. It’s a credit to the staff for finding guys who we think can do it and it’s a credit to the guys who are actually doing it, because it doesn’t always happen that way.

On Daniel Salloi’s performance in the last month…

I would go all the way back to when he started here in the Academy. He’s had a very good progression. He’s had some really good learning moments that maybe weren’t the easiest for him. And at the same time, and I say this to him all the time now, that the reason why he is doing as well as he is or why he is in good form, or why he is getting better from game to game, week to week, is because of his attitude. You know there’s so much you can do when you have a good attitude with anything you do in life. And he has the right attitude at the moment, and if he keeps that, his trajectory is straight up.

On Graham Smith’s first start…

My decision was more based on, and you can see this with Kuzain as well, that a lot of guys, you have got to be careful when you play regularly, and you play a lot of games. I’ve got to be careful that psychologically, they don’t get overwhelmed when they play a lot of games in a row. Because what happens is you think it’s a physical aspect that they get tired from. But a lot of times, it’s the mental. And to bring a guy out and to give him a chance to watch the game, it helps a lot. He’s been playing really well, and I thought he did an excellent job tonight. I really, really do. I think that he was good on the ball, and was calm in the game. When I told him he was going to play, he responded really well. He wasn’t shaken. Sometimes, guys get that way. At the same time, he listened to what we had to say, not only the last couple days but even in the game. He was quick to put it into his repertoire. It worked really well. I give him a lot of credit. It was a big moment for him, a big game for him to play in as his first debut. And to get that kind of result was really good.

On Ilie growing as a leader…

I’ve told him this and I’ve told him that he has to start taking responsibility on the field, and he has to start being a field general because he reads the game well. He sees what the game needs sometimes. But it doesn’t matter if you aren’t vocal about it. You have to assist and help people. And I’d have to say he’s responded really well to that and he’s done a good job. And when you do that, and get results like you did tonight, you start to get confidence, and you start to do it more, and that’s what we need on the field.

On Tim Melia’s big save at the end of the game…

I always say that I was lucky to be a part of this in 2000, when Tony Meola had the year of his life as a player. It was always one of those things when we had a really good defense, but each game there was something where he didn’t have anything going on, but he had to make one save to keep us in there. Whether it was to keep a shutout, or keep us tied, or even one to win the game. You need a keeper like that. The good thing about Tim, is that when he’s in games like this where he is in these situations where he doesn’t have to think a lot, his instincts are really, really good. I’ll say it’s what we expect, but it doesn’t always happen. And he’s been very good and very consistent with it. 

On the slow start…

I’m not concerned about the first half. I’m more angry than anything else. Because we know that in this league, it doesn’t matter who you play, the effort and intensity has to be there. And so, the lack of that and making that mistake of not doing anything in the first half, and putting yourself two goals behind, you can’t come back like this every time. So hopefully, this winds up being a great learning lesson for us going forward. These were three big points for us tonight, especially with Dallas still having a game in hand, us now going up three, and them losing today all that helps, big time. 

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Ilie

Thoughts on the match…

We have to keep the second half feeling. We know that the first half, we were not good enough. We had to raise our pace in the second half. I think that we did it. This comeback is hugely important for us. 

On the locker room at halftime…

I personally expected to see Peter more angry, but he was calm. He just gave us little advice that we had to raise our pace and be aggressive. That was the key in the second half to be calm in the second half and to do what he wanted to do as a team.

On the play of Daniel Salloi…

He’s growing. He’s getting better every game. Even in the first half, he was the only one who tried to do something different, who was pressing the two centerbacks of Houston. I’m happy for him. We know about his quality. He’s doing it and he’s playing really well, helping the team. 

On the team’s tribute to Wyandotte County Sheriff deputies Patrick Rohrer and Theresa King…

We also played tonight for the two police officers. We were thinking about them before the game. Maybe that was a thing that helped us at the end of the game to get this win.

Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Smith

On his debut…

Unreal. I’m ecstatic with the three points. It shows the resilience of the group. We fought back. I don’t think there was ever a doubt in anybody’s mind that we were going to come out of here with three points. Unreal feeling right now.

On his first MLS appearance…

It’s a great group of guys. I couldn’t have asked to come to a better organization. All of the resources they have has really made the transition easy. I can’t tell you how helpful Ike and Tim and Ilie and Roger were. It was like I was playing the game I’ve played 100 times with the help that they gave me.

On the halftime instructions...

He just told us to push the pace, which I think you saw. I think we dominated the second half. We would have liked to come out with that fire.  Once we started competing and imposing our will, it was a pretty one-sided game. Luckily it was enough. 

On Diego's instant impact...

The substitutions were huge, Khiry as well. Goal scorers score and that’s what he did tonight. Credit to all those guys. 

Sporting Kansas City forward Khiry Shelton

On scoring the game-winning goal…

It’s amazing. I mean, the guys have worked hard the whole game for me to get an opportunity and for Daniel (Salloi) to get by that guy and cross it for me to finish – it’s just a blessing.

On the play leading to his goal…

We broke out, I forgot who played Daniel in but we broke out, and Daniel was able to beat the man – a little shifty move he got there – and then cross it. I happened to be in front of the defender and put it away.

On the team talk at halftime…

We made our own mistakes, and they capitalized on those. It wasn’t us playing bad, it was just our mentality – we just needed to change that and the guys came out and did that. We were on top of them the whole second half so we changed that around completely and got the win.

On his instructions coming on as a substitute…

Just be a monster. Just give to the game what I always do. It’s energy and life and Diego (Rubio) was the one to get our energy up even more and then, at the end, there’s nothing more to say. Everyone’s happy and we go away with a win.

On if the team felt there was enough time for a winner following Rubio’s goal…

Oh definitely, we always feel that we can score goals. We have such depth on the team to do so and it shows tonight. No matter if we’re down 2-0, we can always win.

Houston Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera

Thoughts on the match…

I’m disappointed because we did a very, very good job for around 65 minutes; dominating, creating options. We should have scored more goals. They were dead and we gave them life. We gave them opportunities. And when we tried to close the game - we sent defenders and midfielders just to close the game – but after the good job that the forwards did scoring two goals, we stopped defending and we let them go through so easy and they scored two goals on us to take the win. It’s all on us. It’s all on us. It’s not like we haven’t practiced. We have practiced. We have practiced. We’ve been trying to close the games. The way we played the last 10 minutes is not the way you have to close games. That’s disgraceful. And it’s on us. We didn’t mark and it was too easy. Throughout 80 minutes, it was very tough for them to create options. The last 10 minutes it was like a door opens and they went through the middle so easy with more defenders. This is on us. I wanted to help them to send in another defender and another midfielder just to run and to make things complicated for them. Instead of defending more, we didn’t do the job and we didn’t close the game. We let them come back after they were thoroughly dead and lost. We had the game and we just let the game go through our hands.

On the dismissal of Eric Alexander…

The sending off wasn’t the problem. The problem was we didn’t defend well. With more men defending and trying to defend, we were more exposed and we were more relaxed. We didn’t do the job. Even with 10 men, you have to defend even more. When you have 10 men, you defend more. It wasn’t good for us defending and it wasn’t good for us the way we tried to defend. We lost a great opportunity. We played a very good 60 minutes and then we start playing against one of the top teams in the Western Conference and you have to play 95, 96 minutes. You have to have more decisions. You have to continue working.

On facing Sporting KC…

They’re a very good team. Against the top teams, you have to play the whole game. You can not stop playing. You have to play until the game is over. Otherwise, you’re going to give chances and that’s why they’re good. That’s why they’re in first place.

On the play of Mauro Manotas…

Mauro was good. Mauro, Alberth and Romell – we were dangerous. We were very good. We should have scored more goals. We scored two goals. We created more…We just needed to close the game and we didn’t do it. 

Houston Dynamo captain DaMarcus Beasley

Thoughts on the match…

It was a tale of two halves. First half, we played well. Second half, we did not. We didn’t play well, didn’t do much of anything in the second half. Credit to them, they came out and punched us in the mouth. Three goals, game over. 

On his assist…

I just looked over and he was wide open. Easy play. It doesn’t matter now. The game’s over. 

On takeaways from the loss…

We’ve got to learn how to play 90 minutes, especially away from home. At home, sometimes we can get away with it because teams die in our stadium. But we have to have the right mentality to come to these games -- for us, against KC who is one of our biggest rivals, to come and get something, especially being up 2-0. Losing 3-2 obviously leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. We’ve got to learn how to play a full game. We haven’t done that all season. Even the games we’ve won, we haven’t played 90 minutes. I think the biggest hurdle for us is to keep pushing and trying to get as close to the top as we can. Our mentality for 90 minutes has to be a lot better.

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