Roger Espinoza - Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo - Aug. 25, 2020, 2020

SKCvHOU Quotes: "We had a bad day. We’ll be back."

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On the defensive play of Gianluca Busio…

I think it’s very hard to critique one player in tonight’s match. This is one of those times where you say it’s a bad day. It happens sometimes. For the first 30 minutes, I thought we were good. We were in the game. We were creating some great stuff. We were on them. What I think transpired is that after 30 minutes, we started chasing shadows a little bit as a team. I think that was the big thing.

In regards to Busio, he’s growing every day. Every day he’s getting better and better. It’s not one thing you work on. You’re working on all aspects of the game and defending is one of them. He’s growing and he’s always getting better. I wouldn’t use today’s match to evaluate that aspect of his game.

On opponents having breakaway opportunities…

Tonight, it happened. But I wouldn’t say that it’s an ongoing issue by any means. Not at all. I wouldn’t say that. I think that, as a team, I think we’ve dealt with those situations pretty well. Is there sometimes a team does well on the counter? Sure. If you’re talking about the Philly game, those were set pieces. That was a totally different situation than what this run of play was tonight. They were also good in those moments. They stuck it home and they got out after the ball. We didn’t have a good day. They had a really good day. It’s one of those nights.

On the defensive lapses…

After the first 30 minutes, we were just late to everything. We got stretched out. You start having guys that are late or hesitant within the game then all of a sudden they find the seams and they start building through us. That’s what they did. They were cutting through us and building through us at will, especially late in the game. In the second half, we were too man-oriented at times, we were late in situations. Sometimes that happens. I’ve been in a few of those games myself. It feels like, you go left, they go right. You go right, they go left. You go forward, they go backward. You’re just chasing shadows. I think we were doing that for a good majority of the game after the first 30 minutes.

On having fans in the stadium…

Having (fans) in the stadium is definitely a help. It really is. It gives something of an ambience in the stadium. I appreciate the fact that those people came tonight. I apologize for the fact that we didn’t get the result. I don’t think tonight was for a lack of effort. We fell short. We had a bad day. We’ll be back. In situations like this, you’ve got to respond and I believe our guys will. I think it was good to have people in the stadium. It was much appreciated.

On Houston’s success on the right side…

I think that (Alberth) Elis is a tough mark for anybody in this league. He’s an important player for them. I think that when you look at the third goal, (Jaylin Lindsey) gets a little man-oriented in that situation and maybe over commits a little bit.  There are some learning curves that go with opportunities. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I have a lot of faith in him. I think he has a lot of room to grow and this is one of those experiences for him tonight.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza

Thoughts on the match and Gianluca Busio’s role…

I thought we started the game pretty well. The first few minutes, we were doing great, we were driving the game. Their goal came out of nowhere, but it was a great goal for them. Then we came back again and it was 1-1. At that moment I thought we were going to drive the game again but for some reason the game went south for us, but sometimes it happens. I'm very happy for the work of the guys. With the way this year is going, we’ve been training a lot but sometimes we’re not match fit. I'm happy to work with the guys and hopefully come back against Colorado. It was a tough game for us. For Busio, it's great that Busio is getting all these minutes. He's doing great. Tonight, I thought it was a great night for him. I thought he had some great passes. Obviously, as a team, it didn't go so well but for being 18 years old and being on the field and taking the responsibility that he's doing, it's great for us.

On the team’s marking defensively…

That’s not the way we play. That's not what this club is about. There was definitely something wrong there. We were a little late to everything. Maybe not at the beginning, but as the game went on, we did things that we usually don't do as a team here. It happened and now we just have to move forward and remember the things that make us successful so hopefully that happens from now on.

On playing with fans…

We were ready to come back home and play. We did not know at the beginning and didn’t find out until a few weeks ago that we were going to have fans. We are thankful for that and our fans have always been supportive throughout the game. Even when we were down 5-2, I could hear the fans. Everybody stayed throughout the whole game and that shows a lot of what our fans are all about. I'm very thankful for what the fans did for us. I appreciate and am I'm humble about the whole thing. Our fans have always been there for us. Unfortunately, the game didn't go well tonight but we're going to pay that back to them because they're always there supporting us and I'm very happy that they were there for us. We need to move forward and play for them next time.

On being match fit…

I don't like to give excuses. I just thought it was a bad day for us. I don't think it was the quick turnaround. We just didn't play well. We started playing well the first 30 minutes and we were driving the game because we were on their heels. That goal came for them and I think it gave them a little bit of confidence. They started figuring out how to keep up with us at that moment and we started missing passes. The way we were pressuring was off and all that. We have to move forward. This is just another game that we just played and hopefully we feel better on Saturday. As this keeps going into the next few games, we're going to feel better. We’re only two games into a six-game round.

On Busio’s defensive skills…

I've seen a side of him that I have not seen before. I think that now he's been given the responsibility as a number six to defend more and I think he took it very well. He's very disciplined and he's going to learn more. At some point in my career, my game was the same way. When I came out of college, I didn't defend as much. As more games were given to me, I think I got better at that and I'm pretty sure he will. He's a guy that listens, he’s a guy that watches everybody, has a lot of respect for everyone and he's learning very fast and it's great to give him advice. Many times, there's a lot of older guys that are always with the young guys and as you can see, they're playing more and more now so that's great to see.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio

On his growth over the past few years and the switch to a defensive midfield role…

Obviously, I'm still getting used to it. It's a different position for me as to what I'm used to attacking and staying back a little more. There are some things I'm still trying to learn and I’m trying to get stronger and more physical. Two years ago, I was probably getting pushed around a lot more than now and I'm kind of growing and now I can hold my own a little more. There’s a lot to learn from the position and I’m happy to be on the field and try to help the team.

On defensive instincts…

I've always thought about going forward more so it's hard to switch your mindset into defending. It’s something that I'm still working on and learning as I'm playing a new position right now that focuses on defending more. I'm trying to work on that still but it's definitely a little difficult when you go from always thinking about going forward to defending and stopping. It's not what I'm used to, but I definitely am trying to get used to it.

On social justice and the players calls for change…

It’s sad. It just hurts a little bit especially being a young black man to see people with my skin tone getting killed. We're trying to bring light to the situation with any little things we can do like wearing these shirts and bringing light to the situation. If it continues to happen then we're going to have to continue to bring our light, especially with our platform. It hurts everybody and I think everybody should educate themselves on the situation and hopefully we can make a change with more and more people educating themselves.

On fine tuning his distribution…

I'm still learning so obviously there are times where it's not the not the right time to go forward and try to play that that pass. I've always been an attacker, so I'm used to trying to make that pass so I'm still educating myself on the position and that's reading the situation and keeping the ball or going forward and trying to thread the needle. I'm trying to learn it and it's up to me to read the situations. Sometimes I think I'll get caught out trying to thread the needle when we need to keep the ball which can lead to bad situations. I'm trying to learn a lot more and I haven’t played a lot so I'm trying to get used to the position. It’s going to come with good and bad.

On the difference between a reduced capacity and full capacity crowd…

I don't think it really affects me. I try to block out the crowd noise no matter what. Obviously, it helps a lot now that we have fans when you go from playing in empty stadiums where you can hear everybody talking. Having an atmosphere and a bunch of fans really helped and I'm happy that we could fill a stadium with safety in place. You can hear a little more, a few more shouts, but it's usually all good stuff, especially with our fans. We have great fans so it’s never anything negative. It helps us a lot more with fans.

Dynamo Head Coach Tab Ramos

Opening statement about the result of the game...

It feels really good. I’m happy that the team once again made a great effort, but I have to say, this one was coming. This one didn’t happen today. Unfortunately we haven’t been getting the results, but I know that it’s been coming.

On putting MF Niko Hansen in at halftime and his contribution to the team...

We knew that (FW) Alberth (Elis) ended the first half with a little bit of a back issue. We weren’t sure, I know he fell and he felt his back a little bit, so we just wanted to make sure that he was OK first of all, but we had Niko ready because he has some of the same abilities. He’s got the speed to get behind, and we felt like putting Niko in there – obviously you don’t want to lose Alberth – but that Niko could do the job.

On the play of FW Darwin Quintero...

Darwin has been working really hard. He plays a position which is difficult where he has to make the difference in the games, and I think today he made the difference. That’s what it’s about. I think unfortunately sometimes even playing in those positions you have to sacrifice for the team, and today he did that quite a bit. So I’m really happy with his effort, and obviously on top of that with the goals.

On what gave him confidence in his team going into tonight’s game...

I was confident in the team, but I wasn’t in a place where I could talk about it. I can only say so many times, ‘I really like what we’re doing. I like the team. We’re going in the right direction.’ I can truly say it now that we should’ve won the last three games that we played, and unfortunately for one reason another, a call or whatever, we didn’t get the win. But that’s why I say today’s victory didn’t happen today. It’s been brewing.

On whether the players will force him to re-evaluate his lineup based on their strong performances...

No, not really. We have a competitive group, and that’s what I said today before the game. I said it’s the first time where I feel like everybody’s fighting for a position, and that’s a situation that you want to be in. I’m very happy for the guys who were on the field, but I have to say that I’m happy more than anything for the fans, because they needed a win and I think to get it against a big rival like Kansas City is big for them. We have a storm coming and there’s a lot going on the next couple of days, so I’m happy we at least were able to give them a victory.

On when he sensed that the team was coming together and a win was coming...

I think it was the first half against LAFC. We showed some signs in that 3-3 tie. And then I felt like our first real good game of the season was against Portland. When we outshot them 24-11 or whatever it was and we lost the game, I felt like we were really unfortunate to have lost; and they were a good team because they ended up winning the whole tournament, but I felt like we should have won that game and that gave me confidence. Then we played the LA Galaxy and obviously got the PK in the last minute and tied them and got knocked out, but it was really that Portland game that was our first complete game where I felt it turn around.

On what the team can build off of from tonight...

I’m still, as a new coach, even though I’ve been here for a while, I’m still getting to know the group. Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s easy to be the losing team and win a game every once in a while. Now you’ve got to prove that you can win every week. So we have to react well to this one and we have to try to keep this going, and I think that’s the most important part moving forward now.

On MF Darwin Cerén taking advantage of the opportunity to play the last two matches.

First of all, I really like the way you asked that question, because you said, ‘He took advantage of the situation,’ and he really did. That’s exactly what he did, and that’s what you’re supposed to do, and that’s what I love about what’s happening with this team right now. I think if there’s an opening, somebody’s injured, somebody’s not feeling well, somebody else steps in. That’s your chance. That’s your chance to step on the field and stay on the field. I’m happy for him because everybody knows Darwin; he’s a hard-working guy, and today he made our team better and I’m happy about that.

On if he could have imagined the team scoring five goals tonight...

No. No, I didn’t think we’d score five goals tonight. But I thought we could. I thought could score five – we actually could have scored more tonight. We hit the post, we had one called back, we had one or two chances. Of course they could have scored, too, but we can score. We’ve got to remember, too, (FW) Mauro (Manotas) is not in top form and Mauro only played the last 30 minutes. (FW) Christian (Ramirez) did a great job, so now there’s competition everywhere, and that can only be good for the team.

On what he’d like to see the team improve upon from this game...

Of course. You always learn from every game. This game, we didn’t do as well as I had wanted to in defending wide. I thought Kansas City exploited really well Alberth getting back too late on our right side and Darwin getting back too late on the left side, so I thought they took advantage of that and did a good job. We fixed that before the game and during the game, both, with Darwin Cerén cover on one side and Memo cover on the other side, but that left the middle open, so we left a couple of holes for them that they were able to take advantage of, so we have to improve there for sure.

Houston Dynamo FW Nico Hansen

On the first victory of the year...

It was one that we’d been working hard on. I think we’ve been close and we maybe should’ve put away, so it feels good to see our work finally pay off.

On his thoughts about playing with Darwin Quintero and their performance tonight...

We got to play quite a bit during the LA Galaxy game, so it’s no different. I know what he does and he wants to be in front of the goal. On the assist, I looked up and saw him. I should’ve seen him on the first goal I scored too – he was wide open. He makes good runs and is dangerous.

On why he thinks they’re capable of playing games like these...

Training. It comes in out training sessions and in the way we prepare. I think we’ve all seen the change and you could see it today in the way we played. We were ready to compete and ready to show that we can score goals, keep the ball and be dangerous.

On giving HC Tab Ramos his first win with the team...

We’ve been working hard at getting to know the way he wants to play and the way we want to play and be a team. Especially with a new coach, it can be tough at times. We had three months with him at first and then we went into lockdown. Then we got around two months with individual trainings and stuff like that, so it feels good as a team to feel like it’s all coming together.

On his first goal with the team...

I’ve been building and I felt confident going into that, and that little chip was part of that confidence.

On the depth of the team and his role...

That’s part of the way we’ve been building on this team. Darwin Ceren comes in and makes a huge impact as well, and it shows. We can plug in new guys there, in the back and up top and it adds a different element. I think even Christian [Ramirez] and I have been one the second team, building relationships with that. Him and I came in, looked at each other and new that ball was going to happen. As soon as I volleyed, I knew he was going to make that run so I made the run right away. I think the relationships we build with everybody is growing and that chemistry shows.

On what message Ramos has given the team to stay motivated...

I think it comes from us as players. We know what we can do and we know if we get the opportunity, we have to take advantage of it. There’s no beating around the bush about what you have to do as a player and you have to know your role. In the LA Galaxy game, Alberth [Elis] went down and I had to go in and make a difference, and I do. Mauro [Manotas] has been coming back in a little bit and Christian [Ramirez] makes a difference. Everyone knows their role and everybody knows that when you get the chance, you have to take it. You have to be confident about what you can do and who you are.

On what he was thinking when he scored his goal...

I think I wanted to be selfish and wanted to score. I felt it after I got that ball in behind and I just knew it was going to go in. I think Darwin [Quintero] would’ve had a nice hat trick but I wanted to stick that one for myself.

On if he knew he would have a good game today...

Just prepping for the week. The level has grown in the entire team, and I think everybody has been playing with more intent, drive, motivation, energy and spite. Tab said it, this game was building for us to win, and I think you could tell. For me personally, I think I’ve been ready to go, getting better and want to be more dangerous and score. I could feel that today and it showed.

Houston Dynamo FW Darwin Quintero (translated to English)

On his brace and the outcome in tonight’s game...

It’s a great sensation. Aside from our result at home, the feeling were really good as well because the team played really well – we made good touches and we created opportunities. Today, thanks to God, those opportunities were put away and, as I’ve always said, when you win and score, there will always be satisfaction. You give to your team. This is for all of us and I’m happy with the result. We finally got the three points.

On the importance of earning the first victory of the year...

It was very important for us to climb the standings. We knew we were playing a complicated rival at their home. I think we’re finding the dynamic and rhythm that our coach wants, and that is shown on the field. In many passes during the game we had the ball, we touched it well, and based on that we created spaces. It’s one more victory, and we have to keep working and keep going forward knowing we haven’t won anything. We’re content but we have to think about out next game.

On the message Head Coach Tab Ramos gave the team before the game...

We brought back our confidence from our last game against Dallas. We had a great game. We might’ve not scored or won, but the sensation that game gave us was that if we continue to play that way, we would be closer to winning than losing. Every day we worked we had that mentality that if we continued to find each other and to touch and move the ball well from one side to the other, we would win the game. Thanks to God that’s what happened.

On how to maintain the energy after winning onto the next games...

First, we have to keep ourselves grounded. We haven’t won anything. We got a very important victory in a difficult field, but that’s only three points. Today we will enjoy, and tomorrow we start thinking about the next game against Minnesota. It leaves you content and with a great taste in your mouth because of the way we won and the goals we scored, but that’s it. We can’t spark fireworks to the sky because nothing has been won yet.

On if there’s concern about the possible hurricane that could hit Houston in the next few days...

Personally, my family and I are trusting God. I hope everyone takes the precautions that are adequate. I hope that it doesn’t hit us with the force they say it might. We’ll have to adapt and do whatever we can to continue with our rhythm because we can’t stop now. Only God knows what’ll come and how hard it will hit – we just have to be prepared knowing that whatever happens, we have to keep moving forward.”

On the message this victory gives to the fans...

I think it’s normal that when a new head coach comes in, he takes some time to adapt to the system and what he wants. We were in that process but we had to stop training and being together. It’s difficult but now the team is working well and getting the idea that our coach wants. The fans are always impatient because they want to see their team win, just like we do. This win is also for them. We want to keep doing things right. Our victory today wasn’t left to chance. We want to go home and follow up with another win.”

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