PHIvSKC Quotes: "We fell very, very short of our quality"

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on the match...

As the whistle blew, the other team wanted the game and we, as a team, we didn't. We were not in the game. It took three goals to wake us up. That's the simple thoughts on the game. By the time we woke up, unfortunately, things didn't fall our way. We deserved that based on the fact that they wanted it more than us and that was really the game. Defensively, it's not the defense. It's the team. It's the mentality to go and compete and win the game. We didn't want to go and compete and win the game today.

On the team's resurgence after falling behind 3-0...

I thought when we were 2-0, I thought we were still capable to get back in the game. When it went 3-0 and with the goals that we gave up on two of our set pieces, shame on us. I'm very disappointed in that respect. I never have a problem getting beat by a team that just does incredible things against us. To be fair to them, they did. They scored two very good goals on counters. We were completely unorganized. There were so many other aspects of the game that we were just not good enough. Did I ever think that we were in the game? I always think that. I have a belief personally that we can come back. But when you see that there's not life in the team -- there were individuals that worked hard and wanted to win and wanted to fight -- but unfortunately, the game is not played as individuals. It's played as a team and today the team was not ready to win. We didn't compete.

On why the team started so slow...

I only have one thing when that happens. It's my fault. I can easily take blame because if the team's not ready, it's my fault. The team wasn't ready and it is my fault. Very seldom in my time as a coach at this club have I gone into a game with our team where they came out and they just weren't into the game and they didn't want to win, especially a knockout round. We've won plenty of Open Cups. We've been in playoff games. To come out and play the way we did in the first half, it was embarrassing. That's on me. I'm not sure why that is. The good thing is that I have some time to figure that out. And figuring that out is going to be at the expense of everyone else, meaning all of the players on the team, because I can't sit through 90 minutes of the kind of game we had today. Even though I thought in the second half we tried to come back, it's easy when you're down 2-0 or 3-0 to all of a sudden now start to fight and the other team takes their foot off the gas pedal. The psychological change in your mind is an easy one. It's what do you do when it's 0-0 and how do you play. When it was 0-0, we fell very, very short of our quality. The positive is that we played three games that meant something toward our season and as of right now, we're still at least at the top of the west. But we need to get our act together because we can't play games like that against teams in the West because they're too good. They fight for everything. I said from the beginning that I thought that San Jose is the favorite. Their guys, they work. They're the hardest working team in Major League Soccer at the moment. They deserve to get the credit. They deserve to be talked about because of the way that they go after the game, all the players on the team. We're not even in that class. We're not even close.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza

On Peter taking responsibility for the slow start...

Sure, the coach says that. He's going to blame himself. But as players, we've been here for a long time at this club and we know what the expectations are. It doesn't matter if it's a friendly or a league game or if it's a competition in a tournament. Our job is to get out there and play very hard - as hard as we can. Because those are the expectations Kansas City has set over the years. We did not do that today. There were parts of the game where we did that, but when we tried to do that we were already 3-0 down. I think we can improve on that and we can also blame ourselves for it, too.

On what the team could have done better to start the game more positively...

What could have been done different? I think, when you get into a game, you have to win balls. You have to win the ball and you have to control the ball. I thought that we didn't do well on second balls. I thought we did pressure okay and then when the goalkeeper had the chance to do that, we didn't win the balls that were necessary. That goes for everybody. That goes for myself and everybody else on the team. We didn't do a good job at the beginning. We didn't do a good job on the set pieces and the counters. That's something that over the years we've been known for to be very good. Today, we didn't do that. Nobody recovered in time. We were a bit lazy. I think that cost us the game. When we tried to come back, it was too late.

On his takeaways from the tournament...

Let's not forget that as a group we have fought hard in some games. We're still first in the West. We need to fight. We need to regroup together. I know we have it in us. Tonight, we didn't. I don't know why - for many reasons. There's no excuses. We've got to come back and fight because we have still got a league to play. We started very slow at the beginning of the tournament. I don't know if it was the change of weather, the change of time or whatever it was, but we were able to regroup and we made it this far. I'm proud of the guys for fighting. Obviously, it didn't happen early in the game but we still need to regroup because we know the expectations. We know how to win. We've done that in the past. We just need to keep improving and hopefully when we come back, we're ready for that. We can now go and reminisce and think about what happened and what we can do better as players and as a team.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez

On what was missing tonight...

The ambition. We didn't play to win the game. We didn't deserve it. I think we lacked ambition to go start the game in the right way. Other than that, I could start saying all the things we did wrong but if we don't have the ambition and the desire to win, it doesn't make sense to talk about what we did wrong during the game.

Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin

Opening statement…

First and foremost, an apology to all the wives, girlfriends and kids back home in Philly right now. Please do not blame me. This has to go on your husbands and dads for being good at soccer and prolonging this thing another six days.

We set out to win this competition and you can tell by the effort the players have put in. from the defensive side to the attacking side, getting transition plays right. Overall, I am happy with the performance. Everyone left everything on the field for us tonight. A lot went into the game and we have a lot of time to rest up and recover for the Final Four game and we will sit and wait to see who our opponent is.

I will single out Ray Gaddis again. If there is a Best Xl for this competition, or whatever it might be, I think he has to be on it, because it is five games now that he shuts down the entire left hand side of the opponent. It tends to fly under the radar but he is playing at an incredible level both without the ball and with the ball.

I am happy for the group. I was disappointed that we almost let them back in the game at 3-1, but we got our legs underneath us again and were able to kill of the game in the second half.

On Brenden Aaronson’s performance

There were a lot of young players on the field for both teams so credit to Kansas City, credit to us for putting young American talent on the field. B Then you talk about Brenden Aaronson’s performance. I thought he was dominant. He was active. His movement off the ball to find space was really good. The ball he plays on the third goal is a top ball in any league in Europe, not a pass that many people see. His confidence is very high right now. There were a lot of eyes on tonight’s game with most of the other league being finished up right and it was a good showcase for our players.

Some players tend to shrink to the occasion, he tends to raise his level and raise his game. I don’t know how long I will get to coach him, but I am going to enjoy every day and continue to push and try to get better., Him and Mark McKenzie, I am so happy with them. More importantly for them is they just want to win and move on, survive and advance in this competition and lift a trophy at the end.

On Sergio Santos recent form

Sergio Santos is a very unique player. We were joking about how much he impacted the team last year and only started five games when you go back and look at it. Part of that was injuries and part of that was fitness, but tonight you saw just how much he can change a game.

You can’t teach speed; you can’t teach decision making on breakaways. His ability to stretch a defense is really good. He ran so hard in that first half that I think he felt sick at half time, that is the reason we had to take him out.

I am really happy for him for the goals that he created and the goals that he scored. He is just a dangerous player. He is a good compliment to Kacper Przybylko. That speed in behind really stretches things for the rest of our midfield to find space and operate. He clears a lot of room for Brenden Aaronson, Jamiro Monteiro and Alejandro Bedoya as well. His speed helps a lot and was really good on the transition of a couple of the goals.

On the team’s overall performance...

The first real soccer play we put together took us 24 minutes to get to it. We did not start the game well with a lot of unforced errors. Kansas City pressed us and made it hard for us., but that has a play that we finally got right and you can see that we got a tap-in out of it. And then we followed up with another quick goal.

The transition goals are what we coach and what we preach. Overall, still not a perfect 90 minutes, but against a really good a opponent, scoring three goals in the first half isn’t easy. I am happy with the victory but there are things that we can work on for the offense and the defense.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson

On the play leading up to his assists

Sergio’s commitment to get in the box is always there and I think it’s just finding him. He made a great run back post and it was just up to me to find him. That’s my role on this team and I want get assists for them and try to help them out scoring goals and that is what we did on the play. Credit to him because he’s always there and he’s going to get his chances and he did today.

On finding his best position on the field throughout a match

In the second half you get more and more space because they are tying to score, trying to do something different. In that moment in the second half there was more space and when I get more space I can be more dangerous and with the pressing I think I am good and that is why he put me in that position.

On his play with scouts watching

I’ve seen some of the stuff going around but I don’t like to pay attention to that stuff because I’m in a tournament and I want to play the best that I can. The stuff can get under young kids but it didn’t for me and I just went out and tried to play my game and I didn’t worry about that kind of stuff. All I want to do is win it for the team and help my team win.

On the team’s feeling as it looks to become one of the top clubs in the league

I think right now the team is very confidently and I think that as a team we are playing at a high level and we’re grinding out results. Like Jim [Curtin] has said, we still haven’t hit our 90 minutes of playing great soccer but in the conditions that we are playing in its tough and we’ve been good as a team. In training it’s amazing right now with everyone being pushed. It’s been a really good experience for the team. We’ve been winning a lot of games and we want to keep going with it and win this tournament.

On the team having so many different goal scorers

If you look at our offense we have unbelievable players everywhere. We have Jamiro, Ale, Sergio and Kacper as well as El Brujo coming up. Everyone has been amazing this tournament and the interchange has been amazing and the recognition that if I go up then Jamiro stays back. If Jamiro goes up then I take his position. It’s been very good communicating wise and everyone has been confident on the ball playing forward. Credit to our strikers because they are generating goals every single game and making runs and being a real pest for the defense.

Philadelphia Union forward Sergio Santos

On having a teammate like Brenden Aaronson assisting on goals

When you have a guy like Brenden Aaronson giving you that pass, everything comes easy. I did my obligation that i’ve been working on in training to finish the ball and give us the lead.

On how the team’s feels heading into the quarterfinals…

Everyone is excited for the quarterfinals. You see that we play together and fight for everything. There are moments where we can be cleaner in these games and there are some other factors that have to do with that. At the end of the day the fight of the team is always there. I think that at this point in the tournament and with the conditions we are facing that is an important factor to winning games here.

On scoring the second goal and how it felt…

A lot of emotions went through my mind basically the thought was Aurellin Collin, my family and for Philly. For the first goal I wanted to dedicate Collin but I didn’t have that in mind but for the second one that’s why I went over to him and gave him a hug.

On playing out of the back…

Today, they made it difficult to play through our central players and forcing it out wide and occasionally into the channels for some relief but overall our midfield has good movement and Gaddis and Wagner get up well and are easy to find. For us in the back in me and Mark McKenzie, I think we are capable find finding a player every time and if not we got Sergio Santos running in behind with extreme pace. That is always an outlet for but we definitely try and play through and if its not on we go long.

On what he saw in the breakaway goal…

I went with my instinct and what we work on in training. When I saw the opportunity to get the breakaway, I tried to finish it off as best I could.

On all the space Kansas City found later in the match…

Our goals came in pretty quickly but after that we had to focus on trying to hold onto the lead and continue our playing.

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