Chicago Fire 3:0 D.C. United
Veljko Paunovic, Chicago Fire Head Coach
On returning to early season form
“First, of all I’d like to give credit to D.C. United. We were, last year, in that position. We know how hard it is to play these types of game, but these guys fought hard until the end and they showed amazing character. That’s what we need in this league and give credit to their coach, the team and the whole organization. They didn’t give up even though the result was 3-0, there was more that happened in the game. They pushed us hard in the first 15 minutes, it was very tough for us. Also in the first 15 minutes of the second half as well. I think they had better opportunities in those moments, but also it was a great moment for our team when we got that deflection, so we can bounce back from those bad start. We played like how we wanted to play all season, we were the team, the one that knows how to play against a team that needed points. They didn’t have anything to lose but a lot to gain and I think we managed the game very well. From this game, I would say yes, the Chicago Fire with the attack from today are the Chicago Fire from earlier this year. A little different approach, they had more of possession. However, we prepared for this kind of game were you have to compete and you have to know what you have to do. Obviously we did a good job and I think D.C. was a very good opponent and congrats to them to.”
On the team’s defensive effort against D.C.
“I think we defended very well. I think in the past when we were falling like dominos and committing a lot of mistakes, but today that didn’t happen. I think obviously you can make mistakes but there is always a guy who can stop that domino from falling by being alert, being aware, helping and being focused and that’s a defensive attitude we lacked especially in that last stretch of four games where we didn’t win, but I think that’s back and that goes together with the attacking performance. That’s important if you want to be successful. Don’t concede goals and create enough opportunities so you can convert as much as you can so you can have great wins like we had today.”
On targeting second place in the Eastern Conference
“I think we still have to improve and do a better job in controlling the game and not commit easy or innocent mistakes in our organization. I think we are building momentum for the playoffs, which we still have to earn until that spot is secure. We always look high in the standings, we want to get to the second place, we are going to do our best. I’ve always said our approach is the next game, and this is how we are going to prepare. We have to do our job then whatever happens on the other side and if we can benefit from it, perfect, but we have to do our job. That’s how we’re going to approach and build the momentum for the playoffs.”
On Nemanja Nikolic tying the club’s goal scoring record
“I always like to highlight the teamwork which he does, obviously added how important the goals are from everyone. In the case of Niko, I’ve said many times in the past, I’m a very happy person for him that he scores. But if these goals aren’t scored in order to help the team and just Fire seeking individual performance that I wouldn’t be as happy about it. But that’s not the case and I think he really works hard and deserves every goal he’s scored and with that said we also have other guys who stepped up today. I think Brandon’s goal was amazing. It was a perfect ball in from Arturo. But going back to Niko, he’s working hard for the team and we all appreciate that and that helps the team win. That’s the perfect combination.
On Arturo Alvarez’s performance
“He has had a fantastic attitude during the whole year waiting for the opportunity to come and it happened today and he was ready. Everyone on our team understands that very well and that’s the strength of our locker room. Obviously all the players want to play, we know that and are aware of that, and they are accepting the role of having the right attitude when waiting for that opportunity to step up. That helps a lot and Arturo did that very well during the whole year and today I think he did a great job. The reason I made the substitution was the lack of minutes in the recent games and I didn’t want to take a risk with him getting injured at this point of the season or get over-fatigued. But he did a very good job and obviously that helps the team, and we’re proud of the work our guys are doing and the pride they put into everything that they do.”
On the midfield’s performance in the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger
“Obviously everything changes with the available players you have and the opponent you have in front of you. Since the first day, I’ve said our style will be adaptable and I think we are applying that in every single game. To be honest, we crafted our own style during these past two years and it was contingent to the players we’ve had on our roster, players we signed to improve our roster and the qualities they have for our game and our approach always depends, but it is very important that the young players are stepping up in these moments when we have injured players like Basti and Juninho and other guys who are coming back actually like Joao. They’re stepping up and I think that’s their character and I’m very proud of this locker room. We are not only building good players but I think men. I think the guys are becoming mature and understanding that in these kinds of moments, when it is more difficult you have to be at your best and that’s what the youngsters did. I’m going to keep pushing them but I expect from them to always have that approach where they want to learn, where they want to get better, learn from the their teammates, the more experienced and veteran players, and obviously be open to improve their game.”
Arturo Alvarez, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On the win
"It's a big win. I think we deserved the win, it was a good game overall. It had been a while since we won at home so we wanted to make sure that this was the one."
On returning to winning form
"It's something that we kind of maybe went away from a little bit. We knew that it was in there, we just had to dig deep and make sure that we got it out tonight."
On the start
"I think we've been, personally, we train well. Obviously game fitness is one thing but I feel good and it feels good to play. You always want to go out there and do a good job and try to help the team any way possible. I think I did that tonight."
On being shorthanded
"A win is a win. Obviously, we would like to have a full squad, but it's part of the game. There are injuries involved, it's a long season. Whoever gets a chance to play has to stay pumped and perform."
Brandon Vincent, Chicago Fire Defender
On the goal
"Great ball from Artie, that's all I can say, really. You know he put it on a dime, he put it on an absolute platter for me. I got free at the back post, I headed it and it was in. Earlier, I didn't see anyone tracking me; their wing, I didn't know where he was. I kind of put my hand up to tell Artie that I was open on the back post and he found me. That was it."
On winning at home
"It shows the strength of the group. We feel good at home and we're happy to get a result, a win back at home. It's been a while since we've gotten three points so it feels good."
On returning to winning form at home
"Normal, whatever you want to call it, it's pushing this team to the playoffs."
On earning a shutout
"It starts from the top: the guys up top putting pressure on the ball, making it hard for them to get closer to goal. When they are, the defense tries to do the best they can to stop any shots, and if it gets through then Lampson's there to protect the goal."
On making a push for the playoffs
"Getting as many wins as possible leading up to it is a big part of it. Being strong as a group, competing, going out with that mindset that we're going to battle and win every challenge and win every game. That's what we're looking to do."