Team celebration - Sporting KC at Toluca - Feb. 28, 2019
Olivia Brestal

TOLvSKC Quotes: "We came to play our way, and they appreciated it"

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On what his side accomplished in the two-legged series against Toluca:
“The objective was to get through this leg and move on to the next phase. I thought the first 20 minutes were very difficult just for the guys to get used to the altitude, but we got our second wind at about 20 minutes and thereafter. I give the guys a lot of credit, they were tough physically and also tough mentally.”

On scoring the away goal early in the game:
“We talked about that they were going to come out very explosive at the beginning and that we were going to have to be brave in playing our way. I thought it took us a couple of minutes and we kept our composure and then at that point, we were stringing one or two passes together, they were pushing a lot of guys forward and then great run by Gerso (Fernandes), awesome ball by Roger (Espinoza) and then Gerso does a great job to cut back on the guy. The goalkeeper almost commits himself too much and Gerso finds the back of the net.”

On the level of travel early in the season:
“Physically, there’s no doubt that as we continue to move on and have the games that we do, we’re going to have to move the team around a little bit. But some of that stuff’s going to have to be done when we get to LA tomorrow and then Saturday try to figure out where the guys are. That’s going to be a constant – us taking inventory after each game – and then I don’t want to look too far down the road, but we’ve got to always keep an eye on that next game and how you’re going to approach it as well.

It’s not going to be easy, but the guys have worked hard and as I said before, there’s an unselfishness within the group to understand that everybody is going to have to have their impact on the team if we’re going to continue to move forward. Now we’ve got a big game against LA, they’re a very good team, we’re playing at their place, it’s their home opener so it’s not like we’re dropping the level of game or anything, we’re taking it up a notch.”

On if the team can take confidence from this series into a different competition:
“I don’t know, I think it’s good that we’ve got a couple of games under our belt, but I also think that every game is different. What you have to always bring to the table which we did these last two games is we brought an incredible work ethic. As I said before, we were tough physically and we were tough mentally and that has to be a consistent scene from game to game so now we have to replicate that again come this weekend.”

On the Toluca fans cheering on the Sporting KC team toward the end of the game:
“I think the guys realized that their fans appreciated our play, we didn’t come just to sit back and absorb pressure. We came to play our way and they appreciated it, and I think they appreciated the entertainment aspect of it. That’s always a very positive thing, especially coming into a game like this and a place like this because this club has an incredible history, we have a ton of respect for them and it was not an easy game by any means today.”

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler

On advancing 5-0 on aggregate against Toluca:
“We talked about coming into a tough environment tonight, knowing that they were going to put a lot of pressure on us. We talked about coming out strong the first 10 minutes and if we can get a goal, great, but if not try to come into halftime even or ahead. Those were our two goals and despite the early chance we gave away on the corner kick, which could’ve turned things and made things interesting, we responded in the right way and Gerso puts one away and it really gave us control of the series.”

On the importance of keeping a clean sheet on the road:
“It’s important for sure. It gives us confidence moving forward. Obviously the last 25 minutes when they were playing down a man makes it difficult for them, but I thought we kept our shape well. At the end of the day, it’s always good when you can go on the road and get a shutout. That’s going to give you a really good chance to accumulate a lot of points throughout the season.”

On the quick turnaround opening the season at LAFC on Sunday:
“It will be a challenge for sure because it’s a quick turnaround, but this group will be up for it, it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. LAFC is a team we respect because they play well, they’re a tough team to beat – especially at home. At the same time, we’re going to put together a strong group and go after it just like we’ve gone after the last two games and play our style and see what happens.”

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia

On his reaction to Sporting’s 2-0 win:
"We came here and accomplished our objective, which was to get through to the next game. From the first leg to the second leg, I thought we improved with our possession. To be as plain as ever, we did what we needed to do."

On how Sporting performed well in high altitude:
"You’re going to see a lot more of a possession-oriented team this year than last. We had a really good preseason, and I thought everyone came in super fit. That was evident on the field in the first round of the Champions League. Now we’ve got to rest our bodies and get ready again because we’ve got a Western Conference opponent at LAFC in a couple of days."

On the keys to a quick turnaround at LAFC on Sunday:
"It’s business as usual. Everyone will get their rest tonight and tomorrow, and then we’ll have a light training to get everyone’s legs back. I thought this game worked in our favor in the sense that we had so much possession at the end. We saved our legs a little bit, but it’s going to be a really difficult game against a quality opponent in LAFC."