Quote Sheet: Real Salt Lake 2-1 Sporting Kansas City

QUOTE SHEET
REAL SALT LAKE 2-1 SPORTING KANSAS CITY
RIO TINTO STADIUM; OCTOBER 22, 2017

Real Salt Lake
Head Coach Mike Petke

On the playoff push:
“Listen I’m proud of my guys, extremely proud of my guys. Since I have taken over, April 8th in a blizzard, getting their first three points of the year or their first win of the year.  Hitting rock bottom at some point during their injuries and call ups, being last place in the league and knowing the whole time the talent we had. Looking into their eyes and knowing that better days were ahead and for them to go on the tear that they have, since late June/early July, to be what many people have said, I don’t need them to say it because I see it, as the best team in the league throughout that span. I honestly think, and this is not a coach doing the coach thing and taking blame here and there but this is genuine, when I say that I feel if I would have managed a couple of games in those dog days of summer a bit better, maybe we would have pulled out two or three draws instead of losses. My mindset that whole time was that I wanted to instill my philosophy on them in the way I wanted to play, even if we lost, because it would have paid dividends in the long run, and it did. But perhaps if I would have bunkered, and in those games we got two or three more points we’d be sitting here a little different. My point being that I am extremely proud of these guys because they have earned the right to be in the playoffs and we are not. So now it is looking at, immediately starting tomorrow, looking at preseason next year.”

On his moment with Beckerman post game:
“I told him I wanted to cut his hair for preseason and come back and be a new man. That is between Kyle and I, I have the utmost respect for Kyle. I played against him when he was 17 in this league, played with him when he was early 20s, I played against him again when he was late in his career and now I have the ability to coach him. And I think that there will be a statue one day in front of Rio Tinto of Kyle Beckerman, and even Nick Rimando perhaps. So I had a special moment with the guy because I love him and I respect him and looking forward to hopefully things we can do next year and beyond.”

On the performance:
“I thought the first half they did close to exactly what we wanted them to do. Early goal, pressure from the start, the way we pressed today I am sure not many people who are sitting here today was able to dissect it, maybe if you go back and look we pressured a bit differently today than we have in the past. And that was based on the respect we have for Kansas City and the way they play. And I thought they bought into it and did very well. Obviously second half Kansas City was playing for position and was playing for certain things and they really brought it to us. What is inevitable in this league, no matter how good of a team you are, or how many good players you have, it always shifts when the team is down a goal and it just becomes that back and forth type thing. But overall I couldn’t have asked any more of them.”

On Luis Silva:
“Luis was put into an interesting situation by me early on. I don’t know how thrilled he was at first to be playing a true forward, I know that he was fine because he wanted to be on the field and he is a good player. Luis is not a natural forward but we saw enough special things and qualities in Luis that we were able to get him in there and we were willing to change a little bit of how we would play with a true outbound forward. I enjoy my time working with Luis and I think he has done a fantastic job for us this year, fantastic so my hats off to him.”

On the offseason:
“Well I am always trying to evolve as a coach, my staff is always trying to evolve as well and we want to evolve as a team. I think the groundwork has been laid from when I took over to now, for the most part, the way I like to play. Now it is about perfecting it a little bit, and tweaking it a little bit. It is about figuring out if we need more pictures to come in or if we are good enough with what we have right now. It is all about looking forward, and it is not just me, this whole league is looking forward, you know. We don’t know right now how much is going to change as far as money from the league TAM, GAM, all that stuff. So based on that is what we will decide to do in the off season. I think the groundwork has been laid and I know my guys understand, for the most part what type of team we are and how we want to play. There are always going to be little tweaks in between to try and get better. And I am going on an African safari in December, I don’t know if you wanted to just know tactical or personal but I am going to Africa and working on being better next year.”

On not making the playoffs:
“Well success is defined in many ways, I don’t think everyone in here defines success the same way. There are many levels of success, my sister who is battling cancer, for her success is getting through a chemo and her levels are down.  Some people success is scoring 12 goals in a year, or making a roster. My point is success is defined many ways, the ultimate success from every athlete is to win a championship. Every player is to win a championship, every coach is to win a championship. You ask the worst team in the league who has the worst players, and knows they aren’t going anywhere, you ask them their goal and what success is and it will be to win a championship. However there are many levels in between there, so for me I think we have had many successes, I can name 10 off the top of my head. But at the end of the day I want to win, I want to lift a trophy. I know that the guys lead by Kyle want to lift a trophy. So it is tough for me to say but I think there were many success but the ultimate success, we aren’t there yet.”

To the fans:
“They were amazing today. I’m new to Utah. Only been here less than a year and I am new to the clique of the Mormon culture and on Sundays everything shuts down, to be honest with you I don’t know much about it yet. I didn’t know how the crowd was going to be, it was unbelievable. Everyone showed up in full force, I thought the moment of silence in the 26th minute was incredible. I actually stopped yelling during that time because I knew it was there. And they have embraced me, they have embraced this team, the amount of well wishes through twitter, through emails that I have gotten, through people on the street that I have run into have said such wonderful things. It has been amazing, this team, the players, this club as an organization, and specifically these fans, the supporters throughout the year has brought back the love of this game that I hadn’t had forever and I hit a little rut for a couple of years for the love of this game. It has really brought it back for me. So my hats off to the supporters. Thank you for everything and I can’t wait to unfold the team next year and you can be proud of us.”

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando

On the match:
“I think the focus was there. From minute 1 in the locker room when everybody stepped in, Mike didn’t have to say much. We knew that we had to handle our business. The other games were out of our hands, and to just focus on us. Mike didn’t really have to tell us much before the game; he saw that everybody was ready to go. Obviously the first half showed that we were ready.”  

On not making the playoffs:
“The season is so long that you let a game slip away at the last minute or you don’t get the tie, or end up losing at the last minute. I don’t even know how many games we had like that this year so one point goes a long ways at the end of the season. So to look back, yeah, we could have gotten a couple points here. We had three home games that we didn’t win one of them. You could go back and look at all those games and what could have, should have, but the reality is we could have gotten a point in Colorado and today we’re onto the playoffs. But it doesn’t go this way sometimes and at least we got a win tonight.”    

On finding out about the playoffs:
“After the game. Everyone was really focused in the game. Just kind of going out there and get the W. I’m sure the crowd, the players on the bench, or someone would let us know. We had a lot of head nods that we didn’t make it when we were on the field at the end of the game.”    

On his feelings:
“Disappointment for sure. But there’s a lot to take this season, there’s a lot of good. In the beginning we could have been a lot better and it caught up to us in the end. But not making the playoffs it hurts for sure because you want to give these fans, this organization the chance to win another cup. We were a point shy this year and it makes you hungry for next.”   

On returning next season:
“I would love to. The good thing is that talks are happening now. Communication with my representatives and Real have started. So that’s a good thing for sure. I have a lot of roots here. Real has something that we rebuilt and now you see that we are on the rise again. Mike has done really well with this team and as you see the second half of the season how good we were, and exciting to see us play. It was just fun to be part of the show. I would love to be back and hopefully those conversations go in a good way.”

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman

On the playoff push:
“Every year at the end of the season you look back and there are some points and you could’ve found one point or something to get you a little higher seeding, or in this case to get us into the playoffs. So yeah that’s the one that may stay with us a little longer this offseason but I’m really proud of the foundation we started to build here in the second half of the season. I feel like we really have something to stand on for next year going into the playoffs. I know everyone didn’t want the season to end today. But there’s a lot to be proud of, a lot of things we improved on. I think we found a lot of consistency and if we look at the second half of the season, we can put together two in a row next year then we’ll be up at the top and we’ll be talking about ending the season at the last game.”

On last season compared to this season:
“I think last year we kind of limped into the end of the season where here we really ended the season strong. I don’t know which one you take. You make the playoffs one, one you don’t. Like I said, we’ve got a lot of guys with a ton of experience this year, a lot of young guys got a lot of minutes and now next year they’re going to be coming in knowing what to expect on the field, game day--it’s not going to be a new thing for them. Lots to look forward to next year.”

On thinking about the playoff push compared to last year’s push:
“I think we’ll remember both. We’ll learn from it, we’ll know…you know every year you’re going to go through some downs, some ups but if we can learn from this year, it’ll definitely push us forward next year. But I think we’ll really be looking back on the second half of the season and seeing if we can start off the season next year like that.”

On the offseason moves:
“Well I think the way Mike got us…his philosophy and his identity, we really took on his personality the second half of the season. I think it took us a little bit, of course with any new coach, so we should be flying next year. We’ll get the full preseason with Mike and then hopefully come out of the gates flying and push us on so we don’t have to play catch up.”

On getting the early goal:
“It’s always good to end the season with a win. I’m not totally sure of the numbers but we’ve done quite a few in a row at home, which is probably the most important thing for making the playoffs. I remember in 2008, 2009 that was the way you’d get into the playoffs. You’ve got to take care of home, make your home field a fortress. We started to kind of build that fortress up again so next year if we can continue that home form and even continue to get better on the road then we should be sitting in a good position at the end of the year.”

On the offseason:
“I think we’ll take a week off. I think a lot of us will get back to training. I think yesterday if you were at practice, nobody wanted to leave. We were all staying a little bit longer. I mean at least I did, I thought everything was going to go our way today but unfortunately it didn’t and so we’re already looking forward to next year.”

On returning next year:
“I’m hopeful that everything is going to come together and we’ll sort it out pretty quickly and then for sure start looking forward to next year but I’m definitely hopeful for sure.”

Forward Brooks Lennon

On the playoff push:
“It was great for us. I think turning the season around just showed the character we had in the team and in the squad. Even till today, getting a result just show the fight that we have in this team. Yeah, it’s unfortunate in the end to not make it in the playoffs but we did everything we can today so we’re going to keep our heads high.”

On when he found out about other results:
“Right after the game, right after the whistle blew.”

On the emotional roller coaster:
“It’s disappointing obviously. Coming out with a win today is what we needed but obviously we put ourselves in a tough position. It’s a shame that we can’t make the playoffs because I think we have a team that can go far but we need to keep our heads high as I said and move on to next year and keep our heads down and work hard in preseason. Yeah, it’s tough right now.”

On the emotional roller coaster:
“Definitely. I think the form we’ve shown in the second half of the season, I think any team in the MLS is so worried with us. We have so many good players in the team, veterans and young players that are stepping up so, yeah, it’s tough to not make it but we did everything we could today and got the win which is the most important thing. And obviously the things that are out of our control, it’s tough.”

On the offseason:
“Scoring a goal today was good for me and I’m happy to end the season that way with a goal. Yeah, it’s just motivation to go back next year and score more goals and it just starts with hard work in preseason.”

On what he was seeing on his goal:
“It came from the left-hand side with Plata and then Luis ended up with it in the middle of the field and kind of everyone swarmed him and he made a great pass to me and I shot it and got kind of a lucky deflection back to me and I just buried it so yeah it was a great feeling.”

On the regret of the early season results:
“I mean I don’t think we had results early on in the season that we needed to pick up, on the road and at home. I think we had too many draws and too many losses, home and away. Also, I think last week in Colorado that hurt us big time. But as I said, we’re going to keep our heads high and focus on the things that we did well and move forward.”

On Petke:
“Mike Petke is an unbelievable coach. He’s instilled so much in us coming from hard work and dedication to winning and a never say die attitude, which is great, and the team really follows him and we trust him. Having him come in was huge for us and going on the run that we did was great for our fans and everyone in RSL and I think everyone should be excited for next season because the quality that we have we can definitely make a big push.”

On remembering the playoff push:
“I wouldn’t say one more than the other. I think early on in the season was great for me because it’s my first season in the MLS and so it was a blast the whole season. The first couple away trips were great and good experience going and playing in hostile environments and different stadiums. I’m going to take that into next year and kind of build off of it and then obviously going on the playoff push was special. Every training session I think everyone was working so hard and, I mean, you can’t fault our effort and I’m just really proud of everyone that fought till the end.”

Sporting Kansas City
Head Coach Peter Vermes

On the match:
“They wanted it more than us. The first half especially we were second to everything. They got the early goal and I don’t think we ever responded in the first half. Second half we did, we got a lot of chances and pulled one back but it was too late. We should have pulled one back earlier with the number of chances we had around the goal, but we didn’t. They deserve it. They deserve the three points today.” 

On what they can take from this game going into playoffs:
“That you can’t play like this if you want to keep going in the playoffs. And I’m not being sarcastic or facetious, I’m being serious. First of all in this league if you don’t come with effort you are never going to win. So, maybe this was really good opportunity for us to get a wake-up call into the playoffs that you can’t do that because you’re done. I know that’s what we can’t do.”

On seeing Houston in the first round:
“We’ve seen them three times this year, once in the open cup and twice in the league. We both won once and we tied once. It’s not like we’re far removed from each other. It’s going to be a real battle. They can be a very explosive team if you allow them to be. It’s going to be a little bit like this game and if you don’t come with the effort, then you’re cooked.”

On Melia’s availability for the game against Houston:
“I don’t know if he is going to be ready. Every day is going to count. As much as I get the question, that hasn’t been our problem. We have to bring the effort.”

On losing the last three years in the knockout rounds:
“In every one of those games we played well. I think last year I wish we had VAR, because I think it would have helped us. And I’m being both sarcastic and maybe trying to be a little humorous because I think it would have changed the game immensely.   All three of those games we played extremely well. Each one we had a chance to win. We didn’t play poorly.”

On finishing fifth in the West this year:
“Not satisfied at all. The fact that we’re not one or two is very disappointing for me. I’m going to speak for myself and say that’s very disappointing. We were in a good place for a good portion of the year and for us to finish off at fifth place is very disappointing, underachieved for sure.”

Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra

On what they expect from Houston this coming match:
“They are a team that is hitting their stride at the right time. We know the way they play and we’ve seen them pretty recently. I would hope that our confidence is high going into that game. We know what to expect since we were just there. I know what I’m ready for.”

On having more settled nerves from being so familiar with Houston:
“I think our emotions are pretty hot right now. Guys are probably going to need a day to cool down from this before we take a look ahead. I can’t speak for everyone but for me it doesn’t matter who it would be. You study the opponent and familiarize yourself with them and I guess in our case we could be lucky since we’ve seen these guys so recently.”

On effort missing from today’s performance:
“Effort is the name of the game at the end of the season, especially when it comes to playoffs. Hungry teams often get it. I was a part of DC United for a long time and we had success off of just gutting out time. Kicking and scratching out on the opponent. But we absolutely lacked it in the first half. Me personally I think it comes down to the individual. You can’t inspire anybody but everyone in the locker room needs to dig deep. And we have the capability, it’s just a matter of getting our stuff together for the week.”  

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