Chicago Fire 1:1 Columbus Crew FC
MLS Regular Season
Veljko Paunovic, Chicago Fire Head Coach
On what it means to get the season started:
"I think we started very well. We didn’t have a good first half, but credit our players with a great reaction. We made some adjustments, and we had a very good game. In the second half we had very good opportunities, same as in the first half but we didn’t convert. David’s [Accam] goal gave us more confidence and then we started to play much better and created more opportunities. We were very close to scoring the second goal. In the end, I think it’s a good start to the season, it’s a good coming back from a negative result. This is a huge boost for our team, from now on Real Salt Lake we have to prepare and recover for that game."
On switching the formation:
"30 minutes of the first half, we switched to 4-3-3 and that helped us to spread a little bit more in the midfield line, so David [Accam] could be closer to Brandon [Vincent] and help him to cover [Harrison] Afful, because he was obviously very dangerous in the first half. And then, we also dropped Dax McCarty to [help out in the defense] and cover [Federico] Higuain better. And then a huge, huge commitment from the guys, it’s all up to them. Whatever we, the coaches imagined or whatever we want to do, whatever is the plan, it’s about the player so I think, fantastic reaction, I have pride in our players, and our comeback was great."
On how he’s feeling:
"Yeah, I feel as if we had a good start of the season, that’s something that is very positive for us. Obviously we had a very bad season last year. Good start, but it’s just the start and we gotta keep building."
On his strategical approach in the last minute of the game:
"It depends, it depends. Juninho is very important for us, he’s very good for us. You can count on him for the next games, so it’s very important that we have all our guys ready. And obviously with Juninho and [John] Goossens, all our players have a lot of possibilities. I think we have very good depth in our team and that’s very important for the long season."
David Accam, Chicago Fire forward
On the positive effect of switching from right to left:
"Yeah I think so. In the second half we controlled the game, we created so many chances. We assaulted their back four, 1v1 so that helped us a lot. We could have won the game in the second half, but we are happy."
On his goal in the Opening Match:
"It feels great. For me, my confidence is going higher and higher. I am happy to get on the score sheet in the first match of the season."
On putting the pieces together this season:
"Yeah I think so. We have a good squad and for us this is the first game and first opportunity to do well and by the second half we really came out. And next week we have Juninho back."
On playing next week at home:
"That is our home opener and for me I think the fans expect us to win the game and I think we will give the fans a great show."
On his final thoughts:
"I think one point in Columbus is not too bad, especially with how we started the game. So for now I am happy with it."
Dax McCarty, Chicago Fire midfielder
On his Chicago Fire Debut:
"Overall, really happy with the result. Obviously, any time you go on the road and get a point it’s a good thing, especially first game of the season. It’s a new team, lot of new players, against a really good team, Columbus, they are always very good at home very tough to pay against. We have got to be happy with the result, obviously, tale of two halves I thought. First half, I thought [Crew SC] outplayed us. Tactically we were a little bit off in terms of our pressure; we just let them play too easily and [Crew SC] broke us down numerous times and they rightfully had a one-zero lead. Second half, we changed up our formation a little bit, changed up our pressing and I thought we played really well. I thought we came out, made them uncomfortable and we pressed them really well in the second half we had a lot of possession, created a lot of chances and scored a great goal and probably it was anyone’s game at the end there. I thought [Luis] Solignac had a really good chance to finish the game off and [Crew SC] had a couple of half chances, but overall, really happy with a point."
On his team’s ceiling this season:
"Lot of potential. Lot of potential in this team. I still think we have a long way to go, for sure, we’re a project I would say still. Obviously we were missing a very important player in Juninho today, I thought John Goossens stepped in the middle of the field and played really well, had a couple of good chances, probably could’ve scored a goal. I thought for the most part we grew into the game. It was a tough first half, like I said, but the second half we showed more of our potential. We were dangerous, I think once guys play a little bit more together and get on the same page, our ceiling is as high as we want it to be. We certainly have the potential to do some damage in this league. The playoffs is always the goal, so we are going to try and make the playoffs and make a deep run in the Open Cup and we’ll see how we can do it."
On his thoughts on today’s game and his team’s next game:
"Yeah, obviously there are positives we can take out of [this] game. I think we are going to have to watch some video, see why we were not as good in the first half. But yeah, we made some in-game adjustments and I think the good thing about this team is we showed character. It could have been easy to come into the locker room with our heads down, frustrated with how we played in the first half and saying that Columbus was going to come out and do the same things to us in the second half, but they didn’t. I thought we flipped the script on them a little bit. We pressed them really well. Certainly gained more confidence in the second half as it wore on and thought we were actually the team on the front foot more in the second half. So, we can take a lot of positives from that. Obviously, looking forward to our first home game against [Real Salt Lake], have to win games at home if you want to be successful in this league. We have to get Toyota Park back to being a fortress. We have to make sure teams are scared to come play us there. So, for me what I’ll preach is that nothing less than three points is acceptable when we go home and it’s going to be a big challenge, but we hope our fans will push us on to win."
On the tactical change at halftime:
"Yeah, It was actually something we tried to tactically change in the thirtieth, thirty-fifth minute. Instead of being in a 4-4-2, we tried to drop Michael de Leeuw a little deeper and be more of a 4-3-3. I think their midfielders and their centerbacks had a little too much time and space to play the ball through our lines. They were finding Higuaín too easily. We were, to be honest, kind of chasing shadows in the first half and that’s really frustrating when you can’t get close to the ball. So, with Michael de Leeuw dropping a little deeper and John Goossens going a little higher and me being kind of the point man in the midfield there, we were able to get closer to their center midfielders and I think [Federico] Higuaín had less of an influence in the second half and we forced them into some really bad turnovers in their defensive half and created some good chances through that. So, it was a good adjustment by the coaching staff and I think we executed really well. "