New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps
I thought we came out, you could see we came out with some fire and some good energy. That’s how we needed tos tart the game. For me, we’re going to get chances and we had a couple of chances – not as many as we’d like – but what I really saw was us closing the ball down. When it came into our half, it was personal defensively. And those are things we’ve harped on all year. There’s been games we’ve done it and there’ve been games when we haven’t. But really leading up this week as Diego (Fagundez) mentioned, our game plan was to take Chris Rolfe out. Chris Rolfe has been, for me, their best player. I think that Clyde (Simms) did an amazing job. He had a quiet night, Clyde did, but when you go back and look – I implore all of you to go back and look – the work Clyde put in tonight, wherever Chris Rolfe was, Clyde was there. In the first half, it really paid off because we were able to take advantage. But in terms of defending, we knew our defending was going to lead to some chances. We took our two best players for season-ending injuries in terms of our offense in Saer and Lee, we’ve had to manufacture some opportunities. Jerry’s (Bengtson) just getting settled in. I thought his workrate was unbelievable tonight. When you put those things together, start to finish, we had a really good night. A good way to end here as a home game.
It’s top to bottom. You can see when we’ve defended well like that – we’ve had a couple of games where we’ve defended well – it starts with our forward work. Tonight, if you saw what we did, we dropped into more of a 4-1-4-1 with Jerry (Bengtson) up there by himself. He really dictated where we were going to go. Clyde (Simms) did a nice job and everyone in the midfield they did their job. When you’re a back four and you can read the game, that’s where A.J. (Soares) and Darrius (Barnes) did well. They knew when they could pressure, they knew when they could step off. And when you defend like that and limit chances and create the predictability, that’s when we do well.
We wanted to frustrate them. We wanted to let them play out of the back to a certain area. You saw where we closed down. That’s what we harped on all week. Tactically, I thought it was the right move. And you need a special moment, and Diego (Fagundez) took it tonight.
Chicago, for me, is a contender for the championship. Are they a pretender or a contender? Chicago’s a contender. You watch them. They’re going to do well in this tournament. And so, Chris Rolfe is a big part of that. (Sherjill) MacDonald is a big part of that. And their spaces in between. And that’s’ what Clyde does. He has to help us with the possession, but then he had to know exactly where Chris Rolfe was at all times. I kinda said you had to attached a string around him and where he goes, you know exactly where he is at all times. And he had a heck of a night doing that.
(Blair Gavin) was great. We asked a lot of him and he hasn’t played in a long time. He’s coming back from injury and I thought he did a really good job of keeping the ball, tempo, he wasn’t afraid to get it with a guy on his back and keep us going forward. You saw in the second half we had to make a move. That was designed – he’s only played, I think one or two games in six to eight months, so we had to get Juan (Toja) on for him. But I thought Blair had a really good first half.
Clyde (Simms) and Blair (Gavin) are a little bit better with possession in terms of keeping it close, and Kelyn (Rowe) is a really good penetrator, dynamic runner. And so the blend of those three guys was key this week, seeing them work together a little bit. It’s the first time we’ve played those three together. But Blair has been pushing to get in and Kelyn’s been wide for us, and he’s a young guy who’s comfortable in the middle so I wanted to get him some minutes there. Tonight was a good chance for him to do that.
In reflecting, I look at it kind of two tales. The first half (of the season) was figuring out what we had and what we were doing. And things went really well for us at times early on. I think that we executed game plans like tonight. We went out and we knew what we were going to do and we went out and did it. Unfortunately, a couple of times later in the year, I think the game plan was there, but there was a silly mistake or a bad foul at the wrong time. When you do that – like tonight, there wasn’t any bad fouls, there were smart fouls. And when you do that and you develop and mature, that’s what good teams are all about. And I’ve been on a few. For us to win tonight, we needed to play almost a perfect game. During the season, any time we played, we’d play perfectly anytime up to the 70th minute or give away a goal at a bad time. Good teams know how to win when they play bad or when they don’t execute a game plan. The nip a goal there, they put it together. We’re still processing through that. We’re still developing and maturity. As we continue to go and you see the things we’re trying to do, the players are really picking up on how we go into games. Tonight, we had two weeks to prepare so it was a little bit longer preparation and it showed tonight that we had a good game plan.
New England Revolution forward Diego Fagundez
Everyone was playing well. We were just moving the ball and Kelyn (Rowe) just played it through the middle and I was just making a good run. Once I got to the top of 18, I was trying to pass but nobody was open so I saw the back post and took that shot and it went in.
Well the celebration was happy birthday to Mom. It was her birthday, so I decided to make this shirt for her and today we just came out, we wanted a win. We started (the season) with a win at home so we wanted to end with a win. We all fought to the end and it paid off.
I think I got better defensively. I knew today was going to be a lot of work and I’ve been talking about it a lot with Jay (Heaps) in training so I came to the game focusing more on defense because attacking is something I was born with. Today was more about defensively and helping out the team defensively. I just came out and did my part defensively and attacking wise I just had a chance.
I’ve been getting more minutes now, so every minute you get, the more confident you are. Even when you come in for the 15 minutes and get few chances, you need to take those chances, because you want to help out the team when you go in. During the year I had my ups and downs, and right now I’m going up so I just have to keep working hard.
It’s special always because a lot of people came to the first game (of the season) and we won and even more people came to this game and we came away with three points. It was something special for everyone and I just think it was great.
New England Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth
I thought that we put in a complete performance tonight. They didn’t really have a ton of chances, if any chances. I thought the guys in front of me really had a good shape tonight.
We had a great game plan coming in and I thought we did a great job of keeping the tight lines and keeping the guys compact. I thought Clyde (Simms), Blair (Gavin) and Kelyn (Rowe) did a great job of kind of doubling down when they were trying to play those penetrating balls coming forward. I thought we did a really good job of focusing on those two guys up top and not allowing them to get the space, and (Chris) Rolfe to get the space and turn because that’s where they give you trouble. We kind of harped on that all week and that was our game plan and we did well to do that.
As a goalkeeper, you always have to stay tuned in to what’s going on and me personally, the way I stay tuned in is I try and be as vocal as possible. So talking to A.J. (Soares) and Darrius (Barnes) and those guys along the back line where if I’m being vocal with those guys, I’m snapped into where the ball is and where the play is and helping to try and prevent people from getting into those gaps.
Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas
When they scored the goal it was kind of a 4v2, we had enough players in the back. After that I think it was difficult because the field isn't too big, we didn't have a lot of space to get behind and it's kind of narrow so we had to be a little bit better with the ball as far as movement. (We were) a little predictable at first, but in the second half we were better. Just in that final third though, we weren't as sharp when we did get opportunities, so we just weren't sharp as far as finishing.
[New England] clogged the midfield. It was difficult because the field is not that wide so if you don't move the ball quick you become predictable, and when [we] were predictable they were able to step in and all that stuff. When you fall behind they can sit back on a small tight field when you have little space. But were weren't that sharp the first half, the second half we were better, but that final third just wasn't there.
The whole conference is kind of tight. It's exciting to be at the end. Our goal was to be in the playoffs so now it's important where you finish. I think that it's very important to have home field advantage and not to play that extra game. We have a game at home now and we have to go back and regroup and focus and get the three points at home which will put us in second place.
There is different personnel. But it's always difficult to come here and play. We don't play on turf much, and we come here and the field is smaller, the bounce is different, we don't practice on turf. I'm sure they don't either, I don't think any player wants to be playing on turf. But it's different, they do have some injuries also, but they have quality players on the team and I think when they get everyone healthy and ready to go from the beginning, it's a tough place to play and they're a good team. It's not like we came here underestimating anyone, we gave up a fast goal and I think that we tried to push the game but we just weren't that sharp in the final third when we had opportunities to be so.
I thought [Austin Berry] was solid tonight. We had numbers back. We looked at Austin, can you stop at that moment a little bit quicker but the ball takes the deflection and goes out of the way, those things happen. But I don't feel like I can blame him for the goal, but I thought he had a solid performance. In the first half [he lacked] his ability to move the ball quickly, but the second half he was much better. He's been very good all year. Another tough match up tonight with (Jerry) Bengtson and (Dimitry) Imbongo there, a lot of guys that are good in the air and I think he's been maturing and getting better every game. For a young guy he takes a lot of responsibility for himself and stepped up and controlled the back line.
(Diego Fagundez’s) constantly moving. He's good in tight spaces, he's a smaller guy so obviously he's good with the ball and good in tight spaces. His ability to shoot and all that stuff. I think his mobility off the ball, and [he] is a dangerous guy because mobility is very important and I think he has a knack for being in a good spot.
Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson
Energy. (We lacked) just energy.
I thought we connected passes in the second-half with the hopes of getting forward. But at the end of the day when you fall behind early, it’s tough to dig out of the hole. On the night, I just didn’t think it was our best game from front to back. We’ll reevaluate, get back to work and get better.
We really just needed to raise our energy level. That’s really what it was about. We just came out flat in the first-half, so it was just about needing to get that extra spark to come out in the second-half. We just came up a little short tonight.
What was the game plan going into the game?
(The game plan coming in was to) Get three points and play it simple. We had to get that done and it’s up to us players to go and do it. We just weren’t able to execute tonight.
Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause
… To be honest, I don’t think we did a lot well. I mean, I think we came in knowing it was going to be a hard game, and this is one of those games you got to learn from. You know hopefully that’s the best thing that comes out of today is that we learn from it and know that from here on out every game is going to be hard, and move forward.
The rest of the games now are going to be a dogfight. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest soccer, but you’ve got to fight and claw and know that every point. Every possession matters, every point matters, and you know it’s going to be no different next Saturday against D.C.