SKCvCHI Quotes: "We’re accumulating points in a really important part of the season"

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On the team conceding an early penalty…

I wasn’t happy with the start of the game. I think the chances that we gave up, they were based off of our mistakes. The good thing is for some reason today the soccer gods were with us and they kept the ball out of the back of the net. The great thing is that we found a way to get three points. We’ve been on the wrong side of that many, many times – even recently. So to get the result like we did today was tremendous. It’s a great three points.

On the tactical shift to the attack at halftime…

I think the biggest thing is they did a good job of clogging up the middle so it was hard to play the ball underneath to him. I think that was the biggest difficulty. They just did a good job of clogging up the middle. I think when we made the change and we moved the team around, it started to cause them quite a bit of problems in the game. I thought Gadi was much more effective in that place. Obviously, that’s where he should play but I appreciate the fact that the guys tried. It didn’t work but we’ve got to be able to make the adjustments and I think in the second half we were actually a lot better. It happens because of what we did and the changes we made. We put the players in the positions where they feel really comfortable.

On Tim Melia’s penalty save…

Today I was saying, ‘He better save it.’ He’s very good at penalty kicks. He’s been excellent at it. I don’t know what he does. I don’t ask him. I leave him alone. I know that he realized he made a mistake with the clearance. Sometimes you’ve got to come up big and he did. That was good.

On the team’s defensive performance in the second half…

I think the biggest thing was that we talked about having really good starting positions from our shape and that was the difference. I think that our shape was much better in the second half and I thought that we were a lot more disciplined. I’ve said it before, it’s not easy in this league to break teams down. That was tough for them, as well.

Sporting Kansas City defender Winston Reid

On scoring the game-winning goal…

Obviously, I’m really happy but I’m most happy for the team to get another win and most importantly to keep a clean sheet. That’s something we needed to do - we haven’t kept one for a while. We’ve won two games in a row now and we have another game Sunday. Hopefully we can keep it rolling. I’m happy to score and happy to get the win, as well.

On Tim Melia saving an early penalty…

Tim probably thought there should be a little bit of entertainment for the first couple of minutes so that’s why he decided to do that. All jokes aside, he came back and saved the penalty. He’s done it on numerous occasions, so it didn’t surprise me. All in all, we didn’t start the game as well as we would have liked in the first ten minutes. The first half was a bit back and forth and in the second half, even though they had the ball, we had numerous amounts of chances on the counterattack to score. We got the win and that’s what’s important.

On the team’s strong play in the second half…

Playing a new team is different and you have to also feel yourself into the game and figure out what your opponent’s trying to do as well. They’re a good team. They’re good on the ball. They try to make runs in behind, and if not they come to feet. So we had to figure that out. The second half was much better. Even though they had the ball, I thought we limited them to very few chances - just shots outside of the box and Tim dealt really well with that.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia

On his early penalty save…

Sloppy play from me. My feet were pretty poor all game if I’m being honest. Ultimately, I was lucky to make the save and I think it gave us a little bit of momentum, woke us all up in some twisted way, but I’m happy I was able to make the save and keep the shutout.

On his success facing penalty kicks…

We do a lot of work, all of us -- whatever position it is, whatever action it is, whether it’s watching film, studying individual players, practicing things. We all put in a lot of work before the games start and it’s something that we’ve been very fortunate with. With penalties, my surrounding staff does a really good job of preparing me and giving me all the tools I need to make a good decision in the game.

On the clean sheet and the play of the defense…

I think the last two games we’ve been a lot better and a lot more compact. I think the game before we were really calm coming out of the back and that gave us a little bit more confidence. Not as much this game - this game was scrappy and ugly but those are the types of games that kind of build the camaraderie in the group because it allows us to show that we can overcome poor things. We weren’t clean on the ball. We were making mistakes, but we came together, we were compact defensively, guys were putting in effort all over the field. For me, Johnny Russell is possessed almost with how much effort he’s putting in, he’s buzzing around the field and he’s been phenomenal for us. Everyone is bought in right now and it’s something we need to do to make sure we’re accumulating these points in a really important part of the season.

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Raphael Wicky

On the takeaway from the match tonight…

Look, I think overall, we made a good match. Sporting KC is one of the top teams. They play together since long time, the same coach, they have a lot of continuity. We were here, and we didn't deserve to lose. We could have taken this game, so I'm taking that the team put a lot of effort in there, created some chances. Obviously, we talk the same after the game, we lose, it's the same. We have to convert those.

On the road, you're not going to get six, seven, eight, hundred percent chances like we had, two or three, and that was the difference. They had that one set piece where they scored and we were not able to score. But overall, again a lot of positives, we have to take that. It hurts right now, a lot. Players, as well, they are inside; their heads are down. But tomorrow we have to get up and keep moving forward and keep working and take the positives out of that.

On the team missing Gastón Giménez and Brandt Bronico stepping up…

So of course we miss Gastón. I mean, Gastón is a very special player. Gastón is one of the top midfielders in this league, and of course we miss him. But it doesn't really make sense to talk about him too much. He's not here. We knew he's not going to be here for a while. We need to find other solutions.

I think BB (Brandt Bronico) stepped in. BB had a good game, did a great job. He hasn't played since a long time, but he did well. But I also -- you have to understand, I don't ask, for example, from the player who steps into that position to do the same as Gastón does. I didn't ask BB to do the same. I asked BB to bring what BB can bring, and he did a great job there. Overall, still we had good moments in our game. Like I said, a player like Gastón is difficult to replace, but we need to find other solutions, and we will.

On Johan Kappelhof playing again and whether he is ready to start…

That's difficult to say. Johan was out from several months. He only started training with us full-time, like he maybe had four or five team trainings because right now, we don't train much. To start, I can tell you now, it's day-by-day. We have to see how he feels. We have to see how he feels after these efforts, after hard training. When we have hard training, we always have to see how he feels. Then, yeah, with the schedule we have, yeah, maybe at one point, we have to throw him. But his health is always most important, and that's why it's day-by-day and we have to see how he feels.

Chicago Fire FC Defender Johan Kappelhof

On how he feels after the last couple games and what the last few months have been like since he last played in March…

Yeah, it's good to be back. It was a tough time for me personally. It was I think the toughest time in my career. I'm not used to have injuries, so it was tough. Tough to deal with. But I'm happy to be back and help the team wherever I can.

On how close he thinks he is to being back to 100 percent…

Pretty close. Pretty close. The previous game was the first step in being back with the team. This is the next step for me, 20 minutes. So we're increasing week by week. So I think I'm very close to 100 percent.

On his injury and the recovery process…

I actually re-injured it two or three times. I was back maybe for a week in team training, and then it happened again. So it was not like I was back for weeks. It just reinjured pretty quick after I got back with the team. Yeah, it was, as I said, it was a very, very tough time for me to deal with the re-injury. I'm glad I'm fully healthy now and glad I can help the team.

Chicago Fire Defender Mauricio Pineda

On what it means for the team to have Johan Kappelhof back…

Yeah, I think we're all really excited to have him back. He's obviously been out for the majority of this season, so we're excited to have him back, and get him fully fit and help the team in any way that he can.

On what made the match so difficult…

Yeah, I think we expected a really difficult game on the road. I think we knew that from the start. We knew we had to start strong, and I think we did. We were mentally ready for the game from the first whistle. I thought we got off to a good start. Had a couple chances that we could have finished off, but in an away game like that, I think it's going to be a pretty hectic game like that against a good team so it's going to be back and forth, and I don't think we gave up too much in the back, but at the same time, we have to be more clinical in the offensive half and just grind it out when it comes down to keeping the zero in the back, and I think that's where we fell short today.

On how the team, including himself, is feeling physically…

I think pretty good. Obviously it's difficult playing a lot of games like this in a short period of time, but I think we have a lot of guys that will step up and change the game either off the bench or start if we need them to. I think it's really challenging the depth of the team, but I think we're pretty happy with the guys that are stepping up and helping with that.

On whether being able to play different positions changes his approach to training or whether he feels ready to step in wherever asked to contribute…

I think it's been pretty clear from the coaching staff that I might have to step into that role. I think I just have to prepare mentally and be ready for whatever position I have to play and just give my full effort in whatever spot I get called up for.

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