Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Saturday, October 19
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
Thoughts on the team’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC…
“I think we wanted to make sure this wouldn’t be our last game here at home. It was a good atmosphere tonight and I thought the guys came out and from the start we talked about the field being heavy a little bit with the rain, maybe at times, depending on how the field as to be a little more direct out of the back and play smart. I thought we were good the first half – we created chances and we corrected some things at halftime. We created a lot of opportunities but we were just a little bit unlucky. We didn’t make it as exciting as it was in the end. It was a great result for us in a game where we needed to get the three points and all credit to the team and my players. We’ll enjoy tonight and go back to work tomorrow to prepare for New York.”
On not being able to clinch a playoff berth tonight with New England’s win over Columbus…
“I think the way the league is when you look at both divisions, the one thing we talked about is just making sure we take care of business and focus on ourselves. Regardless of the other scores, if we don’t get the three points tonight it doesn’t really matter what happens with the other teams. We focused on putting ourselves in a great spot, the team stuck together and I think all these games, even adversity in the beginning has made us a better team. I think you get better through difficult moments and I feel this team right now is better in that sense than the team I had last year winning 17 games. We don’t clinch tonight, it doesn’t matter, we just focus on the next game and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to play another game because one day going by without soccer is not a good day for us. We’re glad we have another one next week and then hopefully more games after that.”
On Jeff Larentowicz’s yellow card meaning he’ll miss the season finale at New York…
“Jeff is a veteran player but we rely on the team. We’ve talked about this since the beginning and I think there are moments in the season where you’re going to rely on everyone. Jeff has been fantastic for us but other guys will step in and get the job done.”
On Mike Magee being a legitimate candidate for MLS MVP after winning the team award Saturday night…
“I think with Mike the most important thing is helping the team win, regardless of if he scores or not. That’s the kind of competitor he is. Obviously his performance on the field and what he’s done to be able to change our team since he’s been here – he definitely has to be considered. He’s had a big impact with our team and I think he for sure deserves the award because I’m his coach. I hope he gets it but he’s definitely been a huge part to get our team to the point where it is right now.”
On Juan Luis Anangono’s high shot rate and hitting the woodwork twice Saturday night…
“The positive thing is that he’s creating opportunities. I think it’s going to come and as a forward you have to have a mentality that you want the next opportunity, regardless if you’re missing or not. Juan does so much work off the ball that he’s a threat every time we get the ball to be able to play in depth and he stretches the opposing team out. In the first half we could have done a better job with his movement and finding Mike [Magee] between the lines because there were big gaps between there and we didn’t find him enough. But he works so hard with the ball, without the ball – he’s creating opportunities and it’s going to come. I think he’s got that kind of mentality and as a forward you say ‘give me that next opportunity’. In a game it’s the next play. There’s nothing you can do to go back. He’s a positive guy, he created chances, he hit the post today, next week it’ll go in.”
On how closely he followed the New England/Columbus game…
“I looked at it. Believe me every time I went back – I saw 2-2 then I saw 3-2 – you look at that. At the end, it’s really up to us, so regardless of what they do, if we take care of business then we’re there and it’s a credit to everyone in this organization. You look at it, it’s hard not to but I think we just have to focus on ourselves – that’s the important thing. We put ourselves in the spot where it really is up to us.”
Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire Midfielder
Thoughts on the team’s performance in the 1-0 win over Toronto FC…
“We gutted it out. I thought Toronto played tough and although we had a lot of chances they held on. We got a break on the PK and we win the game. At this point in the year we’re faced with the challenge of having to win games and we’re doing that.”
On the disappointment on receiving a yellow card and missing the regular season finale next Sunday at New York…
“It’s extremely disappointing. The guys will be alright. I have faith in everyone here and they know the task at hand – they’ll take care of business.”
On the team’s spirit after three straight wins allowing them to knock on the door of playoff qualification…
“There’s confidence but we need to keep it in check. We know we have to be smart and I think that’s what we’ve done the last few games – we’ve been a lot smarter than we have in the past in terms of finishing games out and getting the results that we need. Going into New York I’m sure there’s going to be a lot on the line for them and for us as well. It’ll be a tough game but one where I think we can get a result.”
Feelings on seeing Mike Magee convert the penalty kick after missing his take three weeks ago vs. Montreal…
“It felt great, that’s the game-winning goal. We’ve had confidence in Mike, we know he has confidence in himself and that’s what we expect out of him. He stepped up and I’m sure it was on his mind the last few games but to finish it the way he did shows the confidence he has.”
On if he thinks Mike Magee should be MLS MVP…
“Absolutely, there’s no question. The guy that scores the most goals in the league is someone that’s having a good year. I think an MVP has to be on the team that’s winning and competing for championships. He’s said all along that his goal is to get into the playoffs and whatever happens after that happens. We’re with him on that. We hope he continues to score goals and I think if we get into the playoffs he should get it.”
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On the push to the end of the season:
"The momentum is building and we need to keep our concentration focused to the last day and hopefully into the playoffs."
On the result:
"I thought we had control of the game. We created chances and were hitting the post, but their threat was on the set pieces and in these kinds of games you can really not count the other team out even if you have control because one set piece and they can put you behind. I think we had control of the game, created chances when we wanted to, but we just couldn't put the game away. it's good we got the one goal and we walked it out."
On the play of Juan Luis Anangono:
"There was great awareness [of his position], he made good runs and people put the ball right there for him. It's unfortunate that you're going to get these kinds of games where you hit it well and it still comes off the post. Hopefully when we really need it, it will go in."
On following the results of other teams in contention tonight:
"I took a peek a little bit up on the board, but it didn't really affect me. Like I said, I want us to stay focused, coming down to the last day might be an advantage for us with the momentum that we are building now and trying to build going into the playoffs.
I'd look up at the scoreboard when we'd win corners or when walking back if it was on the scoreboard, I'd take a peek and say to myself, 'I hope next time it comes up that it changes.' We have to focus on ourselves, we have control of our own destiny and we hope to clinch it next week."
On next week:
"It doesn't make a difference [that the other games are starting before the Fire], because the guys in the locker room are experienced enough to know that it's about us now. We are not looking for the results to get us in. We need to get our own result to get us in. I think we have experienced guys we are not going to pay attention that and will stay focused on the game at hand, which is New York and will be a tough game."
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire forward
On taking the penalty:
"All that was going through my head was, ‘don't miss.’ I got up there with all the confidence in the world, I was looking at the goal and it looked a little smaller than normal to be honest. I was never going to miss that."
On his approach:
"I tried to take a little glance at the goalie, and the approach is that I had to score. Like I said, the goal was a little smaller than normal. Normally I get up there and don't think twice about missing, and this time the last one off the back of the post was on my mind, so I figured I couldn't hit it off the post if I shot it up the middle."
On the game next week:
"We've got to win it next week from the way I see it. I'm not going to watch other scores or anything like that. I'm going to keep in the back of my head that we have to go to New York and get a result. Until someone tells me we're in the playoffs, otherwise the other games are meaningless and this is the biggest game of the year for our team."
On the fans chanting MVP:
"It's awesome. I'm in my city, the city that I love and hearing them chant that with my family in the stands is huge. Having said that, I know what's really at stake and it's not an MVP award or a Golden Boot Award, or any other award, it's about getting to the playoffs and knowing anything can happen from there. It feels good, don't get me wrong, but to be honest it's the last thing on my mind."
Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire goalkeeper
On the defense's performance:
"I thought the guys in front of me did a fantastic job tonight. They were organized, one the same page, communication was there and the most important thing is that we came away with three points and that's what we were looking to do tonight. At the end of the day the clean sheet is a bonus, winning the game is the most important thing. As long as we get three points and play well, we don't care what the score is, we'll take it and run with it. We're trying to make the playoffs and shutouts, if they're not wins in some games, don't help get you into the playoffs. We need to keep doing out jobs, both offensively and defensively we've been on fire and need to keep that going into New York."
On losing Larentowicz for the game next week:
"We have players that can step at any point in time. He's an important player to our team, but we've got the depth, like we've shown, to have players come in and contribute. Everybody can come in and step-up and play their part to help get us into the playoffs. It's about getting results, so we'll use practice this week to prepare for whomever is going to be in there, and we're going to be ok."
Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen
On being encouraged the team has played almost 250 minutes without giving up a goal:
“Of course. I feel so sorry for the players. We’ve taken both these games, the Philadelphia and Chicago games as a playoff games since both these teams desperately needed points. In both games they’ve been absolutely fantastic. It’s been two set pieces that have broken them down. And the chances we had in the first half, they were incredibly good chances. But we have to finish. We didn’t. And then you leave it in the hands of the gods, or maybe not a god, but a refereeing decision that I think when he looks back at and sees it, he’ll probably say he’s made a bit of a mistake. But unfortunately that’s long gone and I won’t be holding my breath to hear a sorry from that one.”
On being patient playing the game with Chicago’s playoff implications:
“We knew they needed to win, and we knew that if we were solid, we’d get into situations on the counter attack which we did in the first half. But we knew we’d have our opportunities, and what we didn’t want to do was go down early. Because that obviously gives them life and the pressure goes off them. As soon as that goal went in, we had to go out of our shell a little bit and our formation and structure and they got a little life. Before that goal, the crowd was getting uneasy, they’re uneasy. It was a very comfortable situation, and then again, the referee’s left his fingerprint on the game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay out of the news. That’s life, and we move on.”
On Stefan Frei’s performance:
“That save that Stefan made would probably be for me, the save of the season. I haven’t seen it again but just from watching it live, I can’t think of any save that I’ve seen. He walks into 80 or 90 per cent of any MLS team and he’s the starting goalkeeper. He walks into there and he starts. That’s so lucky for us to have. Unfortunately Joe’s been so good as well. He’s been absolutely fantastic. And he hasn’t had many games and then to come and put a performance like that is a credit to Stefan.”
Toronto FC Captain and Defender Steven Caldwell
On the match:
“Difficult match for us. We felt we played pretty well. We were in the game. We had to defend for periods, but had the ball and created some opportunities. Very disappointing with the penalty kick decision. We felt that it was a very poor decision by the referee and it cost us a point, or possibly three.”
On the young midfield that got minutes today:
“Yea, the two guys in the middle were outstanding. I felt that Reggie Lambe on the left and Kyle Bekker coming in and not having an opportunity all season and probably being frustrated with that, and comes into a big game and play so well, and in a role that is not his favored role. He defended a lot and was breaking things up. I am extremely proud of them, they were magnificent.”
On finishing off the season strong:
“We want to win, obviously, we have one game to go; against Montreal. Sort of a derby match. And they are obviously fighting for the playoffs too. I think that anyone that’s been or seen the last two matches between Philadelphia and Fire, we are treating these games as being extremely important to us because we are building the team and hoping to be in this position next season. We’re putting everything into them. We’ve been extremely unlucky with two games and coming away with nothing. We will be going out there next week, last home game, last game of the season and we’ll be trying to get the three points against our rivals.”
Toronto FC Goalkeeper Stefan Frei
On the team’s performance tonight:
“We put together a pretty decent performance and it’s extremely frustrating not to get a tie out of it at least. There’s some positives to take from it. We knew that this was going to be a tough atmosphere for us and it was a very important game for Chicago. They want to bring everything and try to get into the playoffs. So great, great learning experience for us. I think we handled the first half extremely well and they had a couple of chances and lots of corner kicks throughout the game but we handled those set pieces well. No chances came from them. That one goal came from a set piece and but it was from the middle referee. But like I said, lots of positives to take from this match. We knew we were out of the playoff hunt a long time ago and it’s more about growing as a team.”
On next week’s final regular season match versus Montreal:
“Again, it will be the same atmosphere and they’re going to know what they need to do in order to get into the playoffs. Obviously Toronto and Montreal don’t get along and we will try to play spoiler for sure.”