Postgame Quotes: Revolution 3, Sporting KC 1

Kelyn Rowe vs. Sporting KC

New England Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps
On how the final two goals changed the feeling on the sideline:

Coach Heaps: “I felt like we had a really good response from coming out of halftime, because you know, one of the keys at halftime we talked about, it was that they were going to come out – we knew they were going to change formations. We knew [Graham] Zusi was going in, because our scout had him going in. He saw him warming up extra hard, so we knew [he was] going in. We were prepared for the change, but unfortunately, we laid an egg those first three or four minutes and that was not good enough and disappointing, but the reaction after that, I thought was really good. We started [getting] ourselves again back in the game. We had a really good first half and then I think from [the 52nd minute] on, I felt like it was coming. So, yeah, the goal was a nice reward, but I felt like there were chances and we were inches away from getting the second. Once we got the second, I felt that the third would come if we just continued to play and not drop off. That was one thing we talked about, making sure that we didn’t sit too deep, that we really came out and went for the third goal. On a night like tonight, you don’t want to put anything to chance.”

On how movement helped take advantage of Sporting KC’s tendency to commit guys forward:

Coach Heaps: “The movement was good, but I think the key was the first half. They came out in that 5-3-2. We were able to dictate the game from that and they were sitting back. I think the goal early hurt their formation a little bit because you’re stuck between sitting and going. But then the second half, they really came out flying and went back to their 4-3-3. That gave us a little bit of trouble, just because it’s a little different starting the second half. We talked about it, but until you implement it, it’s different. I think that’s what happened. Then they got over-committed trying to get the goal. Then when it was 1-1, they reached out a little bit and we were able to play through them and find the right gaps.”

On how important Juan Agudelo and Kei Kamara’s sharpness was to the game:

Coach Heaps: “Huge goal. I thought Kei [Kamara] in the first half was just dangerous – the first goal and then some chances after that. He tried to set Kelyn [Rowe] up and we were really, I thought, inches away in the first half, from putting the game away. I thought that if we had gotten the second one, we probably would’ve got that third one in that first half. And that came down to Kei and Lee [Nguyen] and Juan [Agudelo]’s movement. Diego [Fagundez] gave a couple balls away, but he worked up and down all game long. [I’m] really proud of Kelyn as well, coming back from a tough, tough week in the hospital, to laying it out all on the field for us.”

On what he saw to make him believe the goals were going to come:

Coach Heaps: “The energy came back. I think we dropped Juan [Agudelo] in a little bit deeper to find the ball a little bit more and that opened Lee [Nguyen] up. It started opening Kei [Kamara] up and then I thought the way Kelyn [Rowe] was moving, the way Diego [Fagundez] was moving, they were really fighting for everything. So, that energy picked up and then you saw the sharpness of our passing starting to pick up and that was key for us. In this diamond formation, when we get the ball moving and we get the right guys on the right spots with the ball, we’re dangerous.”

On what the result says about the team, given the importance of the game in the standings:

Coach Heaps: “We knew coming back here that this was a game that we had to get. We’ve put ourselves in a tough spot, but we feel like we need to win our home games and win in Chicago. We have to go about that mentality of really putting it into [a] playoff-type atmosphere. We’ve been that way for a while, unfortunately, but the guys are rising to the occasion and we hope that we continue to do that.”

On what he observed about the work rate of the team tonight:

Coach Heaps: “That’s this league. That’s football. There’s this wanting it a little bit more. That showed when Kei [Kamara] went for a bicycle kick, landed down, still got up. He fought for it and was able to make a play. [That was] unselfish football, laying that across the way he did and Juan [Agudelo] being hungry. I think [there were] two or three guys right there when Juan put the ball away. So, I was really happy with the way we played unselfish football. Even Kei putting that ball into Kelyn [Rowe] was a great ball. I think it slowed up a little bit, because it was almost too wet. Normally, that would slide right through to Kelyn on that chance. But, I think tonight, the key was I was really happy with the way the guys responded to the little tactical change dropping Juan into the 10 role and keeping Lee [Nguyen] higher and then having them have an interchange. We worked hard on it this week and I thought it was a key to us. Not just doing it, but they went out and performed. Then Juan was able to find the ball deep in midfield and turn and play. Lee was able to find balls further up the field and then when that broke down, Juan was able to penetrate and get behind.”

New England Revolution Forward Kei Kamara
On how they were able to come back after the equalizer:

Kamara: “I think it was really about mental focus right there. We didn’t want to give up a goal. We actually came into the half knowing that we should have scored a couple of goals, because we know that’s a team when they’re on the road, if they get one they can kind of put all the guys behind the ball. So, we knew definitely we had to pick it up a notch and definitely we did that.”

On how the partnership with Juan Agudelo is evolving:

Kamara: “It’s good. When I joined this team, the front guys, they play so well together, so maybe it’s that I’m starting to click with these guys a little bit more. But it’s really good to get early goals. It’s good for us getting that, moving forward was good, but then again, it wasn’t enough. But it was really, really good the way we came back and got a couple more goals, it really put ourselves in the best position. This time of the season is not a time you let your home points slip away. You’ve got to maximize on all the points you get at home and definitely we did that tonight.”

On how the team benefitted from Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen shifting to different positions on the field:

Kamara: “It’s good. I’m not the coach, but if I was they’d call me a genius for that one, definitely. They do well. They have a really, really good relationship. I can see it when I’m on the field with them and it’s good to kind of see that, read that. They’re talking to each other. It’s really good and to me, again, I’m just trying to feed off of them, trying to make the right runs, which I was doing today, and being at the end of plays to really help us finish something in the front and that’s all I’m trying to do.”

New England Revolution Forward Juan Agudelo
On scoring two goals after Sporting KC equalized early in the second half:

Agudelo: “We believed that we were able to create chances and maybe one chance was going to go in – and it did and then the flood gates opened. I credit our teammates to staying calm, consistent, composed, and we finished it off.”

On if they start thinking around the last twenty minutes that the season is on the line:

Agudelo: “We start thinking this is the last few games of the season. We know we have to win and we think: who’s it going to be that’s going to push us into the playoffs? There are players that work their butt off to get in positions to be that guy and there was good plays out there.”

On thinking about the playoffs as they pushed for the win:

Agudelo: “Oh, definitely, because we didn’t want to tie this game knowing that we were playing better than the other team, so that’s what I thought. I thought we were working harder, we were more aware, and we deserve the win.”

On featuring in a playmaker role tonight:

Agudelo: “I love it because it’s a lot of freedom, a lot of movement between me and Lee [Nguyen]. We alternate; it wasn’t just me staying back. I love getting touches on the ball because it gives me more confidence for the next touch and for the next first touch. I thought it was fun at times. There were a couple give-and-goes that were entertaining for me. It made me smile, so it was great.”

Sporting Kansas City Head Coach Peter Vermes
On the result and thoughts on the game as a whole:

Coach Vermes: “First half, I think we were a little out of sorts with a couple of decisions that we tried to make. We tried to do some things a little different in the game. I don’t think they worked so well in regards to our rhythm of play in the first half. We over-committed on the first goal, way too much to one side. That is what it is, but I’m just talking about the overall play. Second half, I thought we came out and we were actually playing pretty well. We started to get a little rhythm back. We find ourselves an equalizer and I thought we were in a good place, but I think tonight, in too many situations where they actually scored because of our over commitment. You over commit, you leave yourself exposed. I think in a lot of the things, that’s what we did. We basically exposed ourselves.”

On allowing a goal after Sporting KC equalized early in the second half:

Coach Vermes: “We had a good rhythm at that point. Again, to give up the next two, that was a little disappointing, for sure.”

On what the own goal did to Sporting KC’s mentality:

Coach Vermes: “I think that’s a really tough own goal. I don’t think anybody looked at it like that way. I think it more was the fact that it was a corner kick, came out, it was cleared, [and] they cycled it back around. We actually didn’t have enough guys at the back stick. If you don’t have your people there, not only are they going to get a chance, but as a ball ricochets and comes back, you’re not in a good starting position. Sometimes, that’s going to happen to you.”

On the adjustments made at halftime:

Coach Vermes: “I changed our formation a little bit. We just got back to ourselves a tad. Again, I thought we started off really well. We got that equalizer. We were still okay in the game. Again, I think we stepped off a little bit, meaning we didn’t keep our foot on the gas pedal at that point once we got the equalizer. They started getting a little rhythm again. They were getting too many set pieces in around the box. Then, I think those two corner kicks led to both opportunities for them.”

Sporting Kansas City Forward Benny Feilhaber
On changing tactics to score more goals:

Feilhaber: “Obviously, tactics always affect the game, but throughout the season, we always know what the other team is good at and what they’re potentially susceptible to, and we try to take advantage of those things. We tried to do that this game, but we weren’t able to do it in an organized and good fashion and we gave up some chances that we probably shouldn’t have and didn’t manage to create enough for what we’re used to.”

On playing Real Salt Lake in Sporting Kansas City’s next game:

Feilhaber: “You have to forget this game obviously, there are two games left in the season. We’re in a fight for our lives, in a playoff spot now. It’s about getting points each and every game, and solidifying your spot in the playoffs.”

Sporting Kansas City Defender Saad Abdul-Salaam
On improving as the season progresses:

Abdul-Salaam: “I think we have to, overall, communicate. I think there’s a lack of communication on the field on some of the plays. That’s something we have been working all year on and that’s something we can continue to get better on. That being said, I thought as a group we fought all way to the end.”

On the team’s upcoming games against Salt Lake and San Jose:

Abdul-Salaam: “We are confident going in. We think we can gets points at Salt Lake and then come home and get points against San Jose.”