Quote Sheet: Fire vs. SKC

KLOPAS: "I’m proud of our guys because they left everything on the field."

Frank Klopas

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

Chicago Fire Manager Frank Klopas

General thoughts on the match…

For us, we needed some positive momentum to build on something. Knowing that we were coming to play against a very good team in a really tough environment gave us that momentum. I just felt our guys came out and left everything on the field. We had some very good chances throughout the game in the first half and also late in the second. I know the second half they came and pushed hard, which we knew they would. For us, it was a positive. In the end, we always try to get the three points but having the start that we’ve had so far to come in here and have the opportunities to get the three, and so did they, but to walk away and get one is a lot we can build on with our team. I’m proud of our guys because they left everything on the field.

On starting Daniel Palidini in the midfield…

I think that Danny’s been playing well. We needed to obviously match them in the midfield, and I think that Danny has the ability not only to be good with the ball, but I think we needed to be in possession with them because they apply pressure. I think he brings those kinds of qualities and now has the technical ability to not only push forward, but to play quick out of the back. I think he’s been in good form. Within the team, you have to adapt to fit players, and I think for this game I selected the right group of players to be out there and I thought he had a very good game.

On Sherjill MacDonald’s performance tonight compared to his past two matches..

He was better. Obviously his movement was better, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fitness. He’s got to push hard in the game. I think there are still moments where he could do a better job of holding the ball and making better runs in the channels and being more dangerous. But I thought it was a step forward. He looked fresher, and I think he still has a lot of room to improve from a fitness standpoint. But he’s working hard. It was a better day for him.

On the team sitting back in the second half…

I think with them you don’t want to drop too deep. They are a very good team. But I think when we had the ability to push up, especially when the ball is played behind them, the line has to push up. It has a lot to do with communication. I think when you miss guys like Arne, who is a veteran leading the back line, you do get things like that. Because we played Jalil [Anibaba] now out wide right and Mike Videira came in as a right back, so the opportunities that present themselves in a game where you can push up and squeeze and stay compact, and I think we did it. I think that when we got the ball we lost it right away so we didn’t have a chance to push up the field, and I think that is when our forward and MacDonald could have done at times a better job. We look to play away from pressure and he has to hold the ball so we can move our lines up, and I think that’s where we didn’t do as good of a job. So, that wasn’t by design. We didn’t want to give them a lot of room, but they are a very good team. At the end of the day, it’s never going to be easy here. But there were moments we could have pushed up and it’s not something we talked about to drop off them.

Chicago Fire Goalkeeper Sean Johnson

General thoughts on the match…

I thought it was a hard-fought match.  We had to stay disciplined and focused the entire 90 minutes  to grind out and get a result. We deserved the result today.

On the team’s performance…

We kept our shape and I thought we did very well. It’s  tough to break us down in the final third.  We did a great job keeping our shape and communicating today.

On the team’s three-game goal drought…

The goals will come.  We need to focus on making sure that we are working as a team and coming out with a result. We will get the goals soon.

Chicago Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

General thoughts on the match…

Playing Kansas City is always a difficult game and for us and we absorbed a lot of pressure and kept a clean sheet on the road which is great.

On the team’s performance…

It was a team effort and a lot of credit goes to the back four and our goalkeeper.  Sporting are a tough team to play and they have a lot of movement, interchanging players coming forward.

On the team’s three-game goal drought…

It’s difficult to lose your first two games and go on the road but it was important to come here today and get points and we did that. Obviously, it’s difficult when you’re not scoring goals but we take positives from every game.  We are going to need to score goals but we continue to build and grow as a team.  Tonight is a building block.  It will just take time.  We had opportunities tonight and it’s just about getting the chances.

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

General thoughts on the game…

We are disappointed in the fact that we didn’t get three points but can’t by any means be disappointed in the performance of the team. The performance of the team was fantastic. From the onset I thought our tempo and our rhythm of the game was very high, and look when you have 75 percent possession throughout the course of the game and we were going with speed at times when we had to. There’s nothing you can do when a team drops nine guys within a 24-yard space. It’s always going to be difficult to hit the back of the net but I thought that we at times were very dangerous around the goal and we didn’t give anything away until probably the 88th minute and that’s only because we were still going, going, going and they were trying to take one off the counter. So if we come across a lot of teams that want to play that way over the course of the year and we perform the way we did, we’re going to win a lot of games. So I’m very happy with our performance and I’m disappointed in the fact that we couldn’t get the three points because we played so well. Just a little disappointed on that side of it but also happy that we didn’t give anything away defensively and we got a shut out.

On the Fire sitting back and absorbing pressure…

It’s a tactic. I can’t fault anyone for doing it. They do it. That’s the way they play. Obviously that’s not our style. As I said, I think you’re playing with fire…no pun intended. I think at some point you’re going to give something up and they did. They gave up a couple opportunities here and there and their goal keeper came up with a good save and we were a little off the mark but at the end, at some point it’s going to happen. But for us, like I said, I think performance wise very good. We did all the things we wanted to do. We didn’t get one in the back of the net but everything else was a very solid, solid game for us and there is a lot for us to build from.

On the defense’s improvement from last week..

I mean look, what happened last week happens sometimes and the key to that is that you can’t all of a sudden change the way you do things and all of a sudden start panicking because that’s totally against what you’re trying to preach. If you’re trying to play then sometimes you’re going to get caught and we made a couple of mistakes but at the end, if you look at our second half there it was good. Where I was a little bit concerned, and we worked all week on this, is just making sure that we had a very solid performance from the first minute all the way through to the final minute. Again, I can’t say enough about our tempo and rhythm but I also think that being at home was a big help and I think the fans were a big part of that because their energy helps us to move the game along. It helps us to go. What I think that does is that it helps us early on to realize, and especially some of the new players to our team, realize what the expectations are when you say that you want to play at a high tempo.

On Sporting dominating possession…

I would say that we were very good on both sides of the ball. When we lost it, we won it back very quickly because of our allocation and our positioning all over the field. I think our aggressiveness to win it back was very good. Then the other piece was that, a team isn’t bad in possession because normally they’re bad. They’re bad in possession because the other team has good pressure on the ball. I believe that it’s based on our good pressure winning the ball back. Then the final piece of our possession there is because how well we moved off the ball and were very accurate with our passing.

On Benny Feilhaber’s performance…
 

This was, as I said to him when he came off the field, this was his best performance in regards to his transitional moments in the game. Especially from offense to defense, I thought he was very good. He had a lot of pressure on the ball and he made a lot of good decisions tackling wise when he won it back for us in some really important places and I think he’s still one of the guys getting a feel for how we go, but you can’t say enough about him when he has the ball. He’s very smooth, very calm. He gives us another guy that can keep it.

On what he would like to see from Benny Feilhaber…

It’s a tough one because it’s not necessarily his game to start breaking guys down it’s something that you eventually figure out as you play in the team that you play and the way we play. He has the ability to do it I just think right now he’s still feeling his way in certain aspects and again I think he’s been good in helping us keep the ball and obviously giving final passes. He had a couple of really good passes that were maybe a yard too far. The one he played to Mechack [Jerome] down low, trying to get him to go back post. So I mean he’s put in some very good, good balls. It’s just going to take a little time.

On Mechak Jerome’s first start…

I thought he had a really, really solid performance. Defensively he was a rock. He actually made, I would say if he had 10 balls, which he didn’t he had a lot more, I would say he probably made eight great decisions. So he had a really solid performance and I thought defensively he was very, very good.

On playing CJ Sapong on the right…

He’s a good match up to Gonzalo Segares. We weren’t sure who they were going to put on the right, whether it was going to be Thompson or Videira. So to start out we thought it was a little bit better of a situation and Zusi does a very good job coming in from the left to the right. When he’s on his right foot he can get some good shots off.

On this week’s performance compared to the previous two..

I mean, the other two weeks we only played well for 45 minutes each game. So in those two weeks we had 90 minutes of good play and 90 minutes of subpar. This to me was a very good performance other than the fact that we didn’t get the goal but this is the way that we want to play. Like I said, if we play this way throughout the course of this season were going to put a lot of wins under our belt for sure.

Sporting Kansas City Defender Matt Besler

General thoughts on the match…

We are disappointed that we couldn’t get three points, but we felt the excitement of the fans in the home opener. We’re disappointed we didn’t get a goal for them, but our goal coming in was to drive the game and play at a quick tempo. We did that. We passed it quick, we opened up spaces, but we just couldn’t stick one in the back of the net. We’ll move on to the next game and take some positives out of this one. We got our first clean sheet, so that was good.

On playing at home for the first time this season…

We love playing here. It’s one of the things I miss the most in the off-season was coming out here in front of the fans. We got in the huddle before the game, and we all looked around and our captain, Jimmy Nielsen, said, “this is awesome. Let’s enjoy this moment, let’s get after it, and let’s take it to them.” We all had a lot of fun out there today. The crowd’s energy was very good, and we fed off their energy.

Sporting Kansas City Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen

General thoughts on the match…

I didn’t have a lot to do. We dominated the game, but at the same time we always had to be aware of their counterattacks. We had 73 percent of the possession—that’s pretty good. But not scoring is not good.

On the lack of clear offensive chances…

We’ve got to create a little bit more with our possession. But overall we played a smart game. We’re not 100 percent satisfied with 0-0 at home, but we’ll take the positives. We didn’t do anything stupid like we did the first two games. From the first second, we were dominated. This will be the standard for all our home games.

On Mechack Jerome’s first start at right back…

He was outstanding, offensively and defensively as well. I’m not surprised because he showed in the preseason that he has a lot of quality.

Sporting Kansas City Forward C.J. Sapong

General thoughts on the match…

Historically we’ve had this kind of game against Chicago. Not a lot of chances and not a lot of opportunities at goal. We obviously had a lot more chances than they did, but not a lot of them were quality chances.

On failing to create many clear chances offensively…

We’re used to spraying the ball around and having possession in the other team’s half. It’s just tough to penetrate sometimes. The final ball was lacking. We did well to keep it in their half, but sometimes it was just a bad touch or bad pass. The final execution wasn’t there.

On Chicago’s defensive approach to the game…

We realize how hard it is to play in our stadium. It’s something we’re used to and expect. We like keeping the ball and finding gaps. Even though they sat back, I thought we still found holes but just couldn’t get good passes in there.

On Mechack Jerome’s first start at right back…

He did very well. It’s tough to come in and play with a new group of players. For me, I need to have a good relationship with the outside backs in attack. He was good in communication and overall very good.

On playing at the right forward position…

At this point, I feel comfortable at any of the top three positions on the field. I kind of wish Zusi and I switched sides a little more today to put their backs on their toes, but I feel I can work well at any of those attacking spots.

Sporting Kansas City Midfielder Benny Feilhaber

On his first home game as a Sporting Kansas City player…

Coming here as an opposing player, you look forward to it. The fans and environment are something special. Now coming here to play as the home team, getting to play in front of these classy fans is great. They’re with you the whole game and give you that extra energy. Unfortunately,we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net, but we did pretty much everything else well today.

On what Sporting Kansas City did well in the match…

We did well to keep possession and try to create opportunities. When we did lose it, we were quick to get it back. All we didn’t do was put our shots on target. I think we had 20 shots and only 3 on target. Statistically nothing matters except scoring goals. But with the style we play, a lot of teams we play against will try to pack it in. We need to be ready for that.