MINvSKC Quotes: "Definitely deserving of three points"

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on the game…

It was a very good start and a good first goal. We were pushing. We deserved the first goal. They get a crazy goal on their goal but defensively, I thought we were good. We didn’t lose ourselves in the game from the beginning to the end. The lineup produced a lot of what we trained over the last couple of weeks. The individuals did a really good job. The guys who came in had to fulfill a role because we went to a 5-3-2 at the end of the game just based off the personnel. We knew what they would probably do late in the game and I thought we handled it really well. I think that we took probably their biggest asset away from them, which is that they serve the ball in the box really well and they get good runners into the box. It puts teams under pressure. We managed that.

On our second goal, when you go at a team and you put them under pressure – you create mistakes for them. Johnny (Russell) does a great job in getting to where he got to. He puts the ball in an excellent and dangerous position. Guys are going to make mistakes and they did. It was excellent on our part and definitely deserving of three points.

On playing Gianluca Busio as a holding midfielder…

There was a guy who was a pretty good player in his day. His name was Pirlo and he played as a deep-lying playmaker. I thought Busio was excellent today. He gave us something a little different in the game. His work ethic, his ability to win balls, he got out of a lot of stuff, he connected to the group – all without a lot of training in that spot. He did a really good job and adjusted to the position very well and was effective. I think, for any player, opportunities on the field – no matter where you get them – you’ve got to have the right attitude. Busio had a great attitude today and I thought he played really well. He had a good performance.

On being back on the road for an MLS match…

We’re getting back to some sense of normalcy by playing at somebody else’s stadium as opposed to in Orlando. That was surreal, for sure. It still is, a little bit, with not having fans in the stadium. But traveling here and then going into the locker room and just having a regular kind of sequence within the way the game starts and plays, it was good. I thought both teams competed pretty well for not having fans in the stadium. It seems like the guys are kind of getting used to it a little bit. We had a good run up in Orlando. It’s going to continue to be very interesting. Obviously, it’s not what we want to do but it’s the best thing that we have right now and I thought our guys handled it well from an enthusiasm perspective. It can be difficult to play without fans. I’ve said that before. Fans make the ambiance of the stadium, the environment that people love to be a part of – players, staff and fans themselves. We missed that but we’ve got to kind of, for right now, create our own environment, ambiance, enthusiasm in the stadium.

On the play of Winston Reid…

Fantastic from beginning to end. I know he was probably getting tired a little bit at the end. Actually, it was hot here tonight. It was very humid, which is not the norm here. It’s crazy how humid it was and he’s not used to humidity even though he’s been training in it in Orlando and also at our place. He’s just not used to it. Toward the end of the game, he probably got a little bit tired but he managed the game really well. He was excellent. His 1v1 defending, his reading of the game and the situations, he cut balls out, great leadership in the back from a communication point of view. He was tremendous.

On the midfield trio of SKC Academy products…

As well as (Jaylin) Lindsey at left back. I have confidence in those guys in that this is also a time for them to kind of cut their teeth and feel what it’s like to come in and have to secure a result. Obviously I have confidence in them because I put them in the game. I’m proud of them and I’m proud of the way that they came in. There’s growing pains there and there always will be when you bring young players in. It’s not like older players don’t make mistakes either. With the young guys, getting the experience of being out on the field and feeling what that’s like and being part of and having an impact to a result, builds confidence. Those guys did a tremendous job in the game today. I think they really, really helped us late in the game. Because we needed what they were able to bring and that’s a big step forward for them and for the club. It says a lot about what we’re trying to do with our pro player pathway. It’s not just a marketing stunt. It’s real. We want those kids to keep getting opportunities. That was big. To have four kids out of our Academy in the game tonight is big.

On the play of Alan Pulido…

Very good. Alan is a special player. He helps us immensely. I always say it, how well he holds the ball up and plays in between the lines – just so dangerous and finds himself out of so many tight spaces. It’s not easy. He gives us a chance to take a breath and he knows how to bring other players into the game. He’s just a big presence on the field. He’s a big player and he’s excellent for the team. Tremendous effort by him.

Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell

Thoughts on the game…

It was a difficult game. We knew that coming in. Like you said, not the cleanest of goals but it’s not often we get a little bit of luck on our side. Sometimes you need that. I felt that we created enough chances in the first half to maybe score a couple more. We didn’t take them. We’ll take goals any way they come. It was a great ball from Gadi (Kinda). Roger doesn’t manage to get the touch but it was a great ball in that caused all sorts of problems. On the second one, I just tried to fire it across and find Alan. He was coming in at the back. You fire it in with a bit of pace and you never know what can happen. Luckily for us, we got that important touch albeit it was from them. We don’t care. At the end of the day, it’s a win.

On finding intensity without fans in attendance…

It’s difficult. Obviously, we all want to play in front of fans but at the same point, we’re professional in what we do. We know the work that we’ve put in to get ourselves into the position we’re in. We want to be where we want this club to be and that’s at the top. We’re sitting nice at the minute. We know we just need to keep pushing. There’s going to be fans eventually in the stadiums. I’m sure when they’re back in, they’ll be in full voice. At the end of the day, when you pull that jersey on – you go out and you know what you’re playing for. That’s where we get the energy from. We’re all competitive guys. We all want to win.

On the play of the Sporting KC Academy products…

They’ve been brilliant. And not just when they came in tonight. They’ve been training brilliantly. They’re great kids with great attitudes. It just shows the quality that we’ve got coming through. Jaylin (Lindsey) and (Gianluca) Busio starting and then (Cameron) Duke and Felipe (Hernandez) coming in as well. They don’t look out of place. That’s really exciting for us. It’s really exciting for the fans when you see guys like that coming through. Really professional performances from them when they came on tonight.

On the play of Gianluca Busio…

Busio is such a quality player. I say it whenever I’m asked. He’s got everything. We’ve got a lot of players in those attacking positions, but Busio when he dropped back I thought he commanded the game very well. He’s not the biggest of kids but he’s aggressive and he gets around the park well and he’s quality on the ball. He really gave us something different tonight and I’m glad for him because he’s been working hard and it was a really, really good performance from him tonight.

On the rivalry with Minnesota…

It’s just weird playing the same team over and over. They’re always competitive games. They’re always difficult games. We came into this game knowing where we let ourselves down when we played them in Orlando and knowing the areas that we had to improve in. I think we did that. We were under a little bit of pressure, obviously coming to play a team like Minnesota and you’re playing in their stadium. They’re going to have a bit of the ball. They’re going to cause you problems. I think we dealt with it all night. The guys at the back I thought were solid and then we just worked well all over the pitch. We’ve been working a lot on how we were going to stop them and shut them down and I think for a large majority of the game we stuck to the game plan very well.

Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath

On how different it is from Orlando to here in Allianz Field with the same silence of a fan-less stadium…

We know what type of atmosphere we generate here. Certainly, as the game was wading on and we were getting free kicks and corners and putting the ball in the box, that certainly would have made a huge influence and difference for us. But, hey, I’ll never use the fact that there’s no fans here as an excuse. I don’t think we did enough tonight. I thought after the first 20 minutes of the first half we got about it a little bit more and started to play on the front foot a little bit more, and we looked like we might score goals. Before that, we didn’t look like that. I thought we paid them too much respect at the beginning of the game and allowed them to get some confidence in the fact that they’re playing away from home. We knew it was going to be tight. I don’t think there was really anything in the game. But, when I look at the amount of balls we put in the box and to know we put in the box and to not really make [Tim] Melia make a big time save was a bit disappointing.

On the first goal that was scored and if it caught Greg Ranjitsingh by surprise…

It’s one of them that you always talk about when you’re putting it in, swinging in, make sure that they stay in between the post, because that, that can happen. That’s one of them things when people look as though they’re gonna go for the ball and nobody touches it and it ends up bobbling in on the back post. I’ll have to have another look at it. It looked soft from our position on the bench. I don’t think we had enough pressure on the ball. I’ll have to have another look at it.

On what he needs to do to get on the end of some balls in the final third…

We gotta show a little bit more craft, a little bit more ingenuity and a little bit better movement. I thought the one Robin Lod put across the 6-yard box, I would expect someone to be at least diving in or having an opportunity. But, I think we had three men in the box at that particular time and nobody was on the move. So, that was a disappointment. We’ll have a look and decide what we can do better.

On what more he wants to see from his strikers up top…

If you look, even the tournament down in Orlando, we’ve created a lot of chances and what did we score down there? We had a four, we had a two, we got two twos, I think. So, we can create chances. We know that. I’ll have to have another look at it, but as I say, I just don’t think we did enough to get on the end of things tonight. It was very little in the game if you look at the game over 90 minutes. I thought they shaded it for the first 20 minutes. After that, I thought we were far and away the better team in the second half. We haven’t worked their goalkeeper enough. We haven’t worked the penalty box enough. And, we haven’t done enough when we’ve had a lot of the ball in the final third.

On what he considers both goals against us and what he thought of Greg Ranjitsingh tonight…

I’ll have to have a look. I thought, obviously, it was a cheap turnover, when we’ve got people in their half of the field for their second one. And, I don’t think we did enough to make it difficult for them. I don’t think we defended after the ball was turned over in their half of the field. I don’t think we defended well enough. But, I’ll have to have another look at it. It’s very difficult where we sit to sort of give you a detailed answer on what went wrong. I’ll have to see them again.

On what he thinks led to the team’s passive start…

I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s something that we spoke about. I thought we came out a little bit slow. And, when you’re on the road, the last thing that you need to do is give teams some impotence and give them some belief that they can get something from the game. And that’s what we did. We allowed them to dictate the first 20, 25 minutes or so. And, you know, once we started to get closer to them, once we started to engage them higher up the field, and suddenly started to play more 1v1’s around the field rather than a collective, I thought we were a lot better.

On what he saw from Luis Amarilla tonight…

I think that when I look at where we are with Luis – what’s he got, three goals in seven games, eight games, something like that, that he has played in or started – that’s not a bad return. But obviously, we need to get, and not just Luis [Amarilla], we need to get most of our players playing regularly again. It’s interesting that we’ve been back now a week or so, you know, you give the guys a break because they’ve been in the bubble for 40 odd days. Sometimes, you lose a little bit of fitness. I know that they’ve been working really hard down in Kansas since they left the bubble. So, it’s not been ideal, the preparation. Now we’re getting into some more Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Wednesday. I think we’ll benefit from the 90 minutes tonight.

On the frustration behind success on the flanks and getting balls into the box, but not being able to finish and what it would take to finish these opportunities…

Yeah, it’s frustrating when you get – I don’t know how many crosses we’ve had, I don’t know how many free kicks or corners we’ve had – but, when I look at it, I don’t think we’ve worked the keeper enough. I can’t really remember Tim [Melia] coming up with a big save. Other than maybe Hassani’s [Dotson] header. When you consider how much ball we’ve had in their box for the keeper to make probably one big save, is not enough. And we’ll have to look at it, we’ll examine it and we’ll see what we can do about it.

On what he noticed about the heated late interaction between the two sides…

Ozzie [Alonso] thought there was a bit of time wasting and didn’t think the ref was handling it well enough. But, hey, this is what happens. People get frustrated. Both teams would have got frustrated if you’re on the receiving end. So, that’s what happened. But, you know, sometimes the referees have got to start to understand that they can actually quicken the game up before it gets to the last few minutes of the game. That’s where a lot of frustration comes about.

Minnesota United defender Chase Gasper

On his general thoughts on tonight’s performance …

The team is definitely disappointed. To come back home and play at Allianz [Field] for the first time this year, we were really looking forward to the game, but, unfortunately the game just didn’t go our way. We started off a little too flat on the back foot. When you concede two weak goals like that, it’s tough to win games. So, unfortunately it wasn’t our night. We gotta congratulate SKC. I thought they did a great job moving the ball and the holdup play was really good on their end and that caused us some problems. We’re just gonna learn from tonight, work on it this week and get ready for our next game.

On what was behind the trouble of finishing tonight for the Loons and his contributions in the box serving balls in from the flank …

There’s no secret, I just have to have better quality. That’s all it is. I wasn’t too great tonight in the attacking third, so I’ve gotta do better in that aspect.

On the atmosphere tonight, playing a regular season game with no sound, no crowd …

It’s definitely a new experience. We got a taste of it down in Orlando, but, to come back to our home, Allianz [Field], and not have the fans here. It’s not what we’re used to and we definitely miss the fans. We really felt it tonight. To play in front of the fans, you hear them cheering and screaming all game, especially in the 75th, 80th, 85th minute, dying minutes of the game, you need that extra boost. They’re giving you the life. We definitely missed that tonight. But, that’s no excuse for how we played. But, I mean, it’s reality and we have to deal with it just like everybody else in the world and we’re gonna go watch the film on the game, learn from tonight and be better next weekend.

On Gianluca Busio and what he saw from him tonight that threw the Loons off …

He’s an incredible young talent and I think he had a great game today. He’s good on both sides of the ball. He’s not just technical and good with the ball at his feet. He played great defensively and put in the work, put in a really good shift. One of the most important positions on the field for a really good SKC side. He’s a great young talent. American prospect. As an American, you’re rooting for guys like that to keep pushing themselves, keep improving and raise the level of American soccer and I think he’s doing that.

On if there is any effect on the game with a new goalkeeper going forward now …

Greg [Ranjitsingh] has been phenomenal at practice. I mean, he’s one of the best shot stoppers I’ve ever seen. And, so, we were very confident and comfortable with him in goal. He’s a great goalie. Tyler [Miller] did a great job down in Orlando and at the beginning of the season. He’s got to deal with the surgery and we’re supporting him and his decision to get that. But, I think that Greg is a phenomenal goalie and he’s going to step right up and get the job done. So, I think we’re just as confident and he’s a great goalie. So, no real change.

Minnesota United goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh

On his first game in MLS since July of last year (how he felt about the full 90)…

I think, you know, especially with the home game, just a lot of waiting around at home. I was just really anxious to get out there and the first couple minutes just shaking off the rust, you know getting the nerves off…and I think after the first twenty, you know I felt comfortable in there. Unfortunate to concede the early goal, but it’s just something to build off of, but I’m definitely looking forward to the next opportunity.

On the bounce of the first goal conceded…

Yeah, it was on my right side, right foot across so it was curling towards goal. I think it was [Roger] Espinoza that was running onto it. So I had to respect his run just in case he, you know, he gets a touch on it, so I anticipated him to touch it and I waited for it. He let it go through and it was on target, difficult ball to deal with, but it’s something I’ll look at, me and Stew will look at, review it and see what I could’ve done better there, but yeah it’s first game back, a lot to learn from this experience and move forward with it.

On when the backup goalkeeper is put into a starting position (mentality)…

I think the mindset that I go in with, although obviously I know Tyler [Miller] is number one and I’m the backup, but I think I train everyday like I’m the number one. I push Tyler. I think Tyler also knows that all the goalkeepers in this union, especially me, we all want to play and I think that’s good – it’s a healthy competition, it pushes all of us. And obviously I knew for a while now that Tyler was thinking about getting the surgery, and that I would have to step up and fill that role. So, you know, I’ve been preparing for a long time and I’ve been training well. I know that my teammates and staff have full confidence in me and that gives me a lot of confidence moving forward in myself. I felt like I was ready for it and looking to build off it.

On his teammates’ confidence in him…

I think I’ve been enjoying my training. I think we had a good time in Orlando, a lot of training, a lot of time with the team. Obviously like I said, I knew that Tyler was thinking about getting the surgery and that it would be season-ending, so I had a lot of time to prepare. Like I said, just training hard, enjoying the training, and I think it’s been great. Like I said, the staff and my teammates all have confidence in me so that really helps me and my performance on the field. Obviously tonight didn’t go our way, but I think moving forward we have a lot to look forward to and I think we are going to have a real successful season. And for myself, I’m excited to keep moving forward with this.

On the keeper’s perspective on not having fans and communicating with the team…

Yeah, I think exactly what you said. When there’s no fans, I’m able to communicate and they can hear me loud and clear. I think you lose a little bit of that home field advantage. I know that Allianz is a great atmosphere and I think that, you know, the fans really help our team out in that beautiful stadium. So I think it’s give or take, you know my defenders can hear me, my team in front of me can hear me, we can all direct each other, but we lose that atmosphere that the fans create that…you can’t replace. It’s little pros and cons.

On being a good shot-stopper and both goals not really being shots….

I think that’s exactly what it is. It’s obviously a really frustrating night, and like you said, I think one of my strongest abilities is shot-stopping and I think when you come into these games you’ll build confidence in making good decisions and kind of reading the game, and I think I’ll develop that as I get these run-of-games. But yes, like you said, the goals that went in…it’s a little bit positioning and reading the game, and you know, putting the pieces in front of me together and to make sure everyone is in the right spots. It’s something that I’ll build off. Like I said, I’ll go back with Stew and we’ll look at it, and what I could’ve done better in those situations. But obviously really frustrating to concede those two goals.

On if Boxy said anything after the own-goal…

Yeah we had a few conversations just about moving forward how we are going to deal with it – to prevent situations like that. I mean, I have full confidence in Boxy, he knows it, he knows himself, and I can’t fault him for that. He was obviously put in a tough position there and Boxy is an incredible defender so no wrong to him. Yeah we’ll just move forward, look at it, look back at it, correct it, and build towards Dallas.

On his run in Louisville to his current situation….

I had a special time in [Louisville City FC], really successful. Had a lot of games under my belt, so, I think that’s really important coming into these games I felt. I’ve been ready ever since I left there. And in Orlando, last year I didn’t get many games, and the staff here had full belief in me to bring me into the squad and now I’m getting my chance. So you know, I’ve always, like I said viewed myself as a number one. Obviously I respect the goalkeeper union. I think it’s a really healthy competition in training that we have. I view myself as a number one, Tyler is obviously number one, so we push each other and it’s healthy and I’ve been ready for this. I have full confidence in my abilities and my teammates and my staff do as well. So, just have to take this opportunity and run with it.

On what he got out of this overall experience tonight….

I obviously knew that this game would be coming and that I would be playing in it, so it’s just been a lot of waiting. I’ve been just wanting this game to come for so long. Just a lot of build-up towards it. Finally, I got to play in it. Obviously the result didn’t go our way, but I’m happy that I was able to get my 90 minutes in. I feel more comfortable on the pitch. And I’m hoping to put a better performance our there in the next game. So definitely, I’m happy to get the 90 minutes in, just going to build off this and put forth more good performances.

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