SKCvCOL Quotes: "This was a big win for us"

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On how the tournament and the teams should be judged…

You have to commend the guys because they’re dealing with a lot of different things. They go on a moratorium. They come out and we’re doing individual workouts. It’s unknown. Everybody is trying to figure out how are we going to do it, what can I do, what can I not do? Then you go to small group trainings and then eventually you get to full team training. Now you’re doing all this testing. And guys are starting to realize – as you get closer to the Orlando trip – you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to be careful – I don’t want to get the virus.’ All of these things are going through your head. Before we left, we had a false positive.

Then we come down here and everything is good for the first couple of days. We came on a Sunday and then on Wednesday, all of sudden we have a positive. I’ll be honest with you, that really hit the guys hard. It really did. We were supposed to train that morning. It got postponed to the evening because we had to take tests again. If they came back all negative for the all of the guys, we were allowed to go back out on the field. And it did and we got back on the field. Honestly, our training was a disaster. It was like the guys didn’t even know that they were on a soccer field. And it was all because I think they were wrapped up in the test.

Frankly, this last 10 days has been really difficult because you’re talking about now there’s no camaraderie again. The guys are allowed to go to training. We come back from training and you go right to your room. You take a shower and you go down and you get your food. You’ve got to get it in a to-go box. You go up to your room by yourself and you eat. That’s been every day for the last 10 days. I think from a mental perspective, it’s been very difficult. And I’m not talking about just us, everybody is going through this.

And then the teams come into the stadium and there’s no fans. We love our fans. They’re the 12th man. They make you go. And unfortunately, they’re not here so you don’t feel that energy. That’s a whole other piece that you miss. So I commend the guys. This is not easy – what’s going on every day. But I also think that it’s the right thing that we’re doing because we need to play. This is what we do. I’m glad that we’re getting games in. Are they completely indicative of who a team is and how they play? I don’t think so because I don’t think that the environment is what you’re normally used to. It’s changed an incredible amount. You look at how the preparation was in coming here and everything around it, we’re in unchartered waters here. Every day is something new. But the guys are dealing with it really well on all the teams. I really would say that.

On if Colorado targeted Alan Pulido to disrupt Sporting’s possession…

One of the things is we’ve got to give them credit, they had a lot of energy, they were playing man-to-man. I think the other thing too is that, you know me, I want to be transparent with you, I would say that when you lose the game that we lost against Minnesota, you get your bell rung a little bit and you have to figure out how to come back from that. The difference is that I can tell you that when Minnesota came off the field, they weren’t apologizing for winning and the way they won. We’re not going to do that either, right? My point is that sometimes, like in that game, we had incredible possession, we were moving the ball well, we created a bunch of chances, at the end of the day we didn’t finish them off and they find a way and they do a great job and they come back and they win the game in the final minute of the game.

For us, however it is, we found a way to get back in the game, it’s never easy when you’re playing against a team with a man down, now it’s two, a lot of different things happen in that situation and can. We still found a way to win at the end and I would say they played a really good game, we tried to make adjustments to some of the things that they were doing. They were playing a lot of long balls out of the back, especially from left to right, and I think in the second half we started to handle that much better. We were very aggressive to start the half, I thought it was really good, we made some good plays and then we had the right determination to finish off the game. I’m not worried about possession, it’ll get better. It was really good in the last game, this game was off a little bit, but the difference is we got the result and I’m sure the guys feel a lot better with that than the other.

On if there’s any sort of déjà vu from the 2019 season…

I don’t think so. Whenever you go into a season, there’s markers, there’s milestones, things that happen, things you learn from. A few years back, we played our first game away from home against Chicago, I think we go up like 3-0 or 3-1 or something, they come back, it’s 3-2, it’s 3-3, and we wind up winning the game in the last seconds 4-3. That takes you to another level. You need those moments to give you the confidence, get you back into the swing of things. Paul (Tenorio) said this earlier, he said you guys started off really well this season, you had a good start, team played well, very aggressive, got two wins. But that’s gone. We’re trying to restart in an environment that, to be frank, is different. It’s difficult, it’s not the same.

We’re finding our way through it but I think the guys are working towards it, and they’re committed and I’ll say this last thing towards this, we need to get out of this routine that we’re at down here and it’s great because we’re now out of quarantine basically because we’ve gotten over the time period of what they think incubation could be and so the guys will feel a lot more comfortable now that they can kind of roam around the property and go do something, as opposed to just eat and go back their room.

On Alan Pulido not getting as many touches…

Alan was still very active in the game. In the second half, he was on the ball a lot more than the first. But I also think it’s because we were trying to play wide and they did a really good job of trying to tactically take that away from us. And we didn’t adapt. We did in the second half and we started to play a little bit more direct on them up through the middle which gave us some combination play and it changed the game. Alan was a big part of that. You’ve got to give them credit. They worked hard, they fought. It’s the way games are between our clubs, especially the teams in our group. We’re all kind of built from the same mold. We’re small markets and we try to work harder than the opponent. These are tough games – very tough games. This was a big win for us for a lot of reasons.

On the emotional highs of the match…

It’s emotional for so many reasons. It’s also emotional because the guys have a lot of pride. They want to win. They work hard. They’re committed. Where the asterisk goes on this is they found a way to win in this game today. It doesn’t matter that they got a guy thrown out or that they got two guys thrown out. I don’t really care. You’ve still got to find a way to win. And we did that. That was the important aspect. They dealt with everything really well, I think, from an emotional point of view. They didn’t get caught up in what was happening with the other players on the other team. They didn’t get caught up with the referee. They just stayed focus on what we wanted to do. The fact that they got the result the way they did was a big step for us.

On the team’s mental preparations…

The one thing is that – and I don’t want to get too deep into this – but we have a very good idea and we’re very accurate in knowing where each guy is as a personality type. We make sure that we’re aware of how we have to deal with the guys and what they need. With all that being said, it’s really hard when you realize that we’re in a property that has two hotels on it. Those are the two hotels that house all the teams and the MLS staff. And you can’t leave that area. You can’t leave that area. And then we couldn’t really leave our rooms for 10 days. I don’t care what you do, at some point you’re kind of in this rut of a cycle. I give the guys a lot of credit because I think that they’ve done really well. The great thing is that tomorrow night – since we’re out (of quarantine) – we’re going out to one of the restaurants here on the property and we’ll have dinner which I think will be great for the guys. It will be tremendous.

Sporting Kansas City forward Khiry Shelton

Thoughts on the match…

It was a whirlwind – a crazy game. Some unexpected things happened but we got the win and that’s all that matters.

On his goal…

I definitely saw the angle. I was able to compose myself and put it away. It was either put it in the back of the net or back across goal. My aim was in the back of the net but sometimes it will skip off and go back across goal. I was able to put it away.

On his run of form…

That’s something that I’ve always been criticized for is not putting goals away or not getting on the stat sheet. That’s something that I’ve been working on. I definitely came back to Sporting wanting to win and to win a championship. I’m working every day. I get to work with Alan (Pulido) and Johnny Russell and all the guys up front. We work hard on it. I’m doing extra stuff. As you can see, it’s starting to pay off a bit but the grind never stops and I’m going to keep working.

On fighting back at the end…

It’s not an easy thing. We could have definitely done better keeping the ball. At the end of the day, we won and sometimes the games are going to be ugly like that. We pulled it out and took the win. We’re happy about it and we’re going to move on to the next game.

On the physicality of the match…

There definitely was physical play both ways. That’s how the game is and we took it step-by-step. That’s how a game should be.

Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser

On the team’s performance...

A resilient performance. When we were at full strength we were excellent. When we were down one man, we were still excellent. And when we were down two men, we were still excellent. I can’t be more proud of them.

On midfielder Jack Price’s red card...

It was the referee’s decision. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it is what it is and we control the things we can control. I thought Jack was fantastic tonight, as I thought really the entire group and the effort. It was disappointing to be in the situation where we are down a number of players, but again, I’m just so incredibly proud of the team.

On goalkeeper William Yarbrough’s Rapids and MLS debut...

Will was very good. He was very solid all night. You guys see when he actually makes the saves, but throughout the game, his ability to direct and lead is excellent and he has a really big role in terms of how we organize ourselves, and at the very end of it, the saves were great tonight and the distribution was also excellent.

Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta

Overall thoughts on tonight’s match...

For us, we wanted to bring intensity. You saw the game against RSL [Real Salt Lake], we lacked that aggressive mind state of the physical play, so I thought from the first minute credit to the boys for going out there and getting to Kansas City. I thought we dominated the game for the most part. Obviously going down two men is definitely a tough hole to climb out of, but overall I can’t be more proud of the effort that everyone put in and the work that we did throughout this whole week to prepare for this game and we were unlucky in the end.

On potential areas of improvement...

With the whole set-piece aspect, I think that was where their opportunities were to get chances because I thought that defensively we were sound. We were organized, we made it very difficult for them to break us, and the times that they got opportunities were all set pieces. I think overall, we want some of those back because I think we could’ve done a better job, but sometimes that’s how the game goes, Like you said, [Graham] Zusi had one that bounced out to him, it took a deflection and goes in. You have the PK, as well. but I mean, that’s part of the game and for us we have a sour taste in our mouth because that’s something that we can ultimately control. Moving forward, we just have to review the film and look onward.

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