Graham Smith - Swope Park Rangers vs. Fresno FC - September 9, 2018
Nick Smith

#SPRvFRS Quotes: "A very good defensive performance"

Swope Park Rangers Head Coach Paulo Nagamura 

On the team's defensive performance…

It was a very good defensive performance. I think we were able to score the early goal in the first half and just control the game from then. I think we like to highlight the defensive performance because they did really well today. The guys make it very difficult for Fresno. If you see the chances that Fresno had, it was all about long balls and balls in the air. Other than that, I think we closed very well and made it difficult for them to break us down.

On emotions of the game…

I think, just like they were, we were fighting for this playoff spot. We knew it was going to be a battle and they are an experienced team. [They have] guys with a lot of international experience and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought game.

On Adrian Zendejas being a captain…

I think Adrian is a very calm kid and he transferred that calmness to the field. He is a very good leader in the locker room as well. He also did a fantastic job today managing the game and making good saves when he was asked to, but I always like to praise the team. I think all the guys stepped on the field today and did a very good job.

Swope Park Rangers Forward Hadji Barry

On feelings of fifth straight game with goal…

Right now, I am feeling good. I feel like everything is falling in for me, but it is not just me. It is a whole team effort. The most important thing was to get a shot because we know that if we get a shot, we are going to have chances to score goals. We finally got one in the first half and then defended well. We have to give credit to our goalkeeper. He backed the whole team and we defended well to keep that shutout.

On closing in on SPR record for goals…

I am really not focused on that. I did not even know that until you guys told me that last week. My main focus is to just come out here and get a win. Whatever happens after that, we will take it.

On his goal…

Right before that goal, Khiry slid me in and I was one-on-one with the keeper. I took a bad touch and it went straight to the keeper. They tried to play it out quick and we wanted the ball and we went with a high press. Luckily, I was able to go through two defenders and took a shot and it went in.

On his determination after the missed chance...

I knew right away that I missed on one and I wanted to get right back in and not really focus on the last one and keep moving forward and luckily that shot went in, so I was happy about that.

Swope Park Rangers Goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas

On performance of the team…

I thought we did well. We kept the ball. We were patient at times. I feel like the final third of the field we just need to be more clinical and finish the opportunities that we have. Other than that, I think we defended really well on a lot of opportunities. I feel like we did well.

On stopping Fresno’s chances…

I think that is your job as a keeper. You make the saves that you need to make, and the team will do the rest. We got the shutout and we got a massive three points for us to keep climbing the table and we are happy.

On being captain today...

It is a privilege for me. It is an honor to be captain. This club means a lot of me, especially Swope because of the way I grew my first year here and then the second year and now this year. Hopefully we can do something that we have not done in the last two years. I am very happy and I am lost for words to be captain of this team. It is a great feeling.

On calming down teammates…

I think managing the game is a big part of being a goalkeeper. You see them coming and I felt like we were losing balls in the middle that were leading them to good opportunities and I told these guys, ‘let’s calm down and let the game settle and we can keep doing us.' I felt like that was the right call. I talk to my center backs and see how they feel. They told me that I was right. It is a lot of communication between each other. We try to keep playing, but at the same time we have to relax.

Fresno FC Head Coach Adam Smith

On preparing for today’s game…

We prepared like we always prepare. We had a good week in training and we have prioritized the training so that we would be fresh because we had to travel to get here. We have done our scouting and we felt very good coming into the game and having the opportunity to play here in this stadium. We felt good about things. We did a system change, which we felt would cause Swope a few problems. It did not cause them as many problems as we thought in the first half, so we switched back and then we matched them up. I thought we had a very good second half. We just could not get that goal. It is disappointing, but I did say to the guys before we went on the field that the first goal was going to be crucial. Statistically if you score first, you have a good chance of not losing the game, either winning or tying. It was always going to be a mountain to climb after that first goal.

On defensive troubles…

It was just poor on our part. It was not a good goal. We gave it to Swope, but every credit to them for capitalizing and taking the opportunity.

On difficulty of scoring on SPR…

We were not quite clinical enough in front of the goal. We created half chances, but in the second half we had a couple of good attempts on goal that on another day go in. Then we have a chance to fight and maybe get something together for a winning goal. It did not happen today. It is very disappointing because we needed the points to stay in the playoff hunt.

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