Real Salt Lake 2-4 Sporting Kansas City
Children's Mercy Park
November 11, 2018
Real Salt Lake
Head Coach Mike Petke
On the game:
"I’m trying to think of a time that I had more pride to be honest with you, after that second half. I was blown away by their reaction against a team that is a very good team at home. To go down 2-0; to be without two key players; to see us take it to them in the second half and have two clear cut chances to tie the game and take the series. But, it’s a game of inches. For now, all I can say is I’m extremely proud. I think any RSL supporter out there watching tonight should realize how much these guys put in and they should be proud."
On the last two weeks:
"Like I said countless times, we were in the playoffs, above the line, for four or five straight months. So, I think it was justified that we got in. With the LAFC game, I didn’t think I could get prouder of that performance. I think that first game, that equalizing goal that they had, was a combination of a little bit of tired legs from having three days in between games. But again, Kansas City is a phenomenal team and a phenomenally coached team. They showed that in the first half tonight and showed that in the second half to finish the game out. I’m extremely proud of my guys. They fought back. We had countless opportunities to take this in the second half and it just wasn’t meant to be."
On the locker room at halftime:
"There were tactical adjustments at halftime. This is the last 45 minutes of our season if the score remains the same. We went to a more aggressive style in the second half defending. A lot of three-on-threes in the back with Salloi, Rubio and Russell pushing guys higher. Putting Savarino centrally and pushing Damir up, bringing Saucedo on to create. The tactical adjustments were there. We tried to clean up Espinoza. He was getting on the ball too much in the first half in the gaps and we talked about that. It was no panic it was calm. It was 45 minutes, boys. Let’s get a goal and another one will come."
On the decision to play Nick Besler over Justen Glad:
"As a coach, you have many tough decisions to make looking at matchups, who you feel is more in form, who you feel can impact this game a bit. Going back to Nick’s performance the last time we played them, the 1-1 tie here, it was a very tough decision. Justen has played 33 games for us this year, and Justen is still a huge part of our future. But coaches have to make tough decisions and it was the decision I went with."
On the future and moving forward:
"That’s up to them, big picture. That was the plan this year. That’s why I played the most homegrown young players in the league. You always want to win this year. I want to win every game. I want to win everything I do. But there’s something in the back of your mind about playing young kids like this. This is going to pay dividends next week, next month, next season. It comes down to them realizing some of the mistakes that have been made this year and correcting them. That’s part of being a professional. That’s part of elevating your game. If not, you’re just going to stay the same player. I’m glad we got this experience with the young guys. I think they came up big for us at certain times and at other times it was a learning experience for us."
On the penalty kick call:
"I haven’t watched it. The only thing that I said to the fourth official, which I stand by, is that the ball was in Nick’s hands. I told him be certain that this is 100 percent. Because this is not the kind of game that you go with the “yeah, I called it. Let’s go with it.” I think that he did well. Was it Rubio who drew it? He did well with his body when I thought Nedum was going after the ball. To me in a game like this, I’ll have to watch it. I know things happen fast. There is VAR. But I was curious as the ball went right to Nick. (Rubio) had no chance of getting that after that touch. So, I don’t know."
On not having Corey Baird or Marcelo Silva:
"That’s a tough thing to answer. There was also Albert not available. Corey was a last-minute thing yesterday. He got a concussion in practice on a very interesting soft little hit to the head. But it hit him in the right spot and he wasn’t right. So, any time you have to make a change like that it changes our dynamic a little bit. With all the experience Luis has and he’s very good with the ball and holding up, he doesn’t have Corey’s pace. What we were looking forward to tonight was Corey’s pace getting behind the center backs. Albert not being in there, I thought Damir filled in well. Early on Damir dropped into our midfield defensively as a line of five because we didn’t want them penetrating us as much as they can. Then Marcelo, I thought Besler had some very good moments tonight. If I went with Justen tonight, Justen would’ve had some good moments as well. I’ve said it before, every player’s downfall -- whether it’s suspension, injuries, anything else -- is another player’s opportunity."
On if Corey Baird was going to start:
"Corey was going to start. The final word came that he had a concussion this morning at 10 a.m. We were not scrambling but we had to figure a couple of things out and go with it."
On the season as a whole:
"It’s tough, to be honest with you. Rollercoaster at times on and off the field. Players continuing to buy into things and learn the system. Players getting experience. Overall, I felt that the players did enough to get in the playoffs and we went on a good run. Beating LAFC; tying 1-1 at home on three days rest; then the game today. They had opportunities as well, but I’m focusing on our opportunities that we could’ve taken this series. But hey, hats off to Peter and his team. They’re a team I’ve always admired from afar and I wish them the best of luck."
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman
Thoughts on the match:
"I’m so proud of this group - the fight we showed tonight and all season, the growth we had. Take the playoffs out, and I’m still proud of this group. We improved. Guys got tons of experience. We built a lot of foundations for years to come."
On the growth of the team over the season:
"We improved and we learned a lot throughout the season to get us to this point. We got them on the ropes. We just weren’t able to get that next one to get over the hump – a lot to be proud of."
On the absences of Baird and Rusnák:
"We needed everyone to step up to fill in for the guys missing. I thought we did. We needed one more play and it just didn’t happen tonight. We built a lot of foundations this year and today helped to keep moving forward. Those guys are big pieces to our team. We had to get over it quickly. You can’t really dwell on guys out. We have to get on with it and try and do our best to fill in for those guys."
On the team’s spirit:
"We kept at it. Even when we went down two, we knew that if we could get one then we’re one away from advancing. We just kept at it and kept fighting. We just came up short. I knew there was going to be no quit in this team. I knew everybody was up for the fight and we were going to keep going until the final whistle. That’s what we did. It’s disappointing not to go on but we gave everything we had."
On looking ahead to next year:
"The hurt that we feel right now for everyone in the locker room, we’re all going to remember that. That will spur us on for next year. Knowing that if we get in this spot again, remember what it feels like. The amount of guys that we had step up this year and become impact players and taking on more responsibility – five or six guys had breakout years and played a ton of minutes and got a ton of experience – so the future looks bright for this team."
On the match-up with Sporting KC:
"What Peter’s been able to do here at Sporting is impressive. He’s turned a team that was maybe a bruiser team into a team that is possession based. They all have a style about them. They play the same way at home and away. You don’t see many teams do that. All in all just a really good team."
On falling behind early:
"The other team was trying to start fast. When you go into a game, both teams have a plan and you clash it and sometimes the other team gets the better of you and sometimes we get the better of them. They were able to get the better of us in the first 20. As the game went on, we got into it a little bit more. We just came up short."
On the future for Real Salt Lake:
"It’s huge. Five or six guys got the most minutes they’ve ever gotten. They’re now regulars in the team. They’re going to be one year older and have that much more experience in them. Now you’re going to see those guys come back with even more confidence. You saw their confidence grow as the season went on. Now they’ll have another year under their belt so their confidence should grow. They’re more familiar with things. We just have to work hard in the offseason and preseason and try to do better than we did this year."
Defender Nick Besler
On the team’s performance:
"We’re definitely proud. I think if you just look at our playoff run, obviously it ended earlier than we wanted it to. Everyone was writing us off from the start. No one gave us a chance to beat LAFC in LA. No one gave us a chance to come here and get a result. If you ask anyone in that locker room, they’re going to say that we felt like we should have advanced in this series. With the amount of chances that we left late there, we’re disappointed."
On the team fighting back from 2-0 down:
"I think we certainly don’t give up. Being down 2-0, that’s a position where a lot of other teams might wither and give up on the game almost. Once we got that first goal, you could really feel the belief. Everyone on that field and the guys on the sideline knew that we had it in us to get another goal and advance. Even the crowd and their team knew that they were on the ropes a little bit. You could kind of tell that’s how the game was going. Sometimes that’s how it goes."
On the disappointment of the season ending:
"I think it will take some time. This will hurt a little bit just because we were close. We had the chances. It’s not like we just rolled over and they took it to us. We fought back really hard. Those missed opportunities will be in the back of our mind for a little bit in this offseason now."
On the absences of Baird and Rusnák:
"I think the guys on our team and the guys that stepped in are all very capable. That’s what we’ve been doing all year. Obviously, those are key players that we were missing. They’re opportunities for people to step in. I think everyone that was out there today did a great job."
On getting the start today:
"I think you’re always hoping the coach is going to trust in you and give you the opportunity. Mike had confidence in me today. When he told me I’d be starting, I started preparing like any other game I’d be playing in. The confidence that he gives me, you can see that this year it’s really taken my game to the next level. This has absolutely been my best season as a professional. A lot of that has to do with Mike giving me confidence. I can play comfortably out there and play free. A lot of that does goes back to Mike giving me confidence."
On playing in his hometown against his brother:
It was pretty cool. These fans, they’re great fans. They don’t personally like me very much but that happens when you go to away games. That’s something you embrace. I think our team did a very good job in a hostile environment. At the end of the day, to play against your brother – those opportunities don’t come that often so we try to embrace everyone that we get.
On the team’s tactical shift to get back into the game:
"I think we had a little bit more direct play. We kind of went at them a little bit. We had a little bit more energy, picking up second balls. We had a great goal – a little bit of a transition and a little bit of wide play. Saucedo took a great finish and we score off a set piece. Goals give you confidence. Goals give you energy. I think the goals that we scored made them a little nervous. You could tell for sure that it felt like at least that they weren’t playing their style that they wanted to play. We kind of were dictating a little of that to them."
Sporting Kansas City
Head Coach Peter Vermes
Thoughts on the match:
"Real Salt Lake were very good on the day. I thought that the first half we were fantastic in the way that we played. We scored some great goals and were unlucky not to get a third one in the first half. We had a couple more chances but man, in the late flurry, they had a couple real dangerous opportunities. But at the end, the fourth goal was fantastic. I’m proud of the guys. I’m happy for them because they’ve worked very hard to put themselves in the position to be first in the conference and get home field advantage and ultimately have this second leg at home. Now I’m excited for them to play in the Western Conference Championship. They deserve it."
On clinching the game with a last-minute goal:
"I told the guys at halftime that we were going to have to sacrifice our bodies in the second half. It was going to be really, really difficult with everything they were going to throw at us in the second half. We did it. What an unbelievable turn of events there at the last minute. Daniel has a heads up play and great finish. A great finish to the game."
On looking ahead to the Conference Finals:
"The good thing is we’ve got a little break. Everybody gets a chance to recover a little bit and then we’ve got to get ready for Portland. It’s going to be an incredible series. They’re a very, very good team both attacking and defending. It’s going to be a tough one."
Defender Matt Besler
On what it took to advance:
"It took a lot. It took a lot from everybody. First of all, credit to Real Salt Lake. They never gave up and we knew they wouldn’t. They laid everything on the line and they made it extremely difficult for us. It was a crazy game. We expected it to be back and forth. It’s the playoffs and usually things open up. It would have been nice to get that last goal a little sooner, but at the end of the day we did enough. We move on. We’ve got to learn from some of the things we didn’t do as well – closing out the game a little better. It’s going to be tight. We did enough and we’re excited to be moving on."
On the atmosphere at Children’s Mercy Park:
"They brought it. That showed. The way we started the game – that was the best 20-25 minutes probably of the season. A lot of credit has to be given to the fans. And then the last 10 minutes of the game. We needed a pick me up. They brought the energy. That goal that Daniel scored – that might have been the loudest I’ve ever heard the stadium."
On the team’s 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake:
"It was good. We’ve got to clean some things up but we know it’s not going to be perfect. We have a game plan going into a game but we know sometimes it’s not going to look exactly like how we draw it up. We have to be able to adapt. We came out on the front foot. That showed. We were able to turn them over in their own half, which is something we talked about. And then we were able to put a few past Rimando. All in all, a win is a win and we’re moving on."
Forward Daniel Salloi
On his last-minute goal:
"The ending was very difficult. Games like this -- when you go up 2-0 -- it’s difficult because you get comfortable. You know you have to go, but it’s difficult. At the end, I was reading the header back to the goalkeeper. I passed it around him. I watched a lot of Firmino videos this week so I did the no-look goal. I’m just happy to seal the game."
On the atmosphere at Children’s Mercy Park:
"This crowd was crazy. They deserved this win. Thanks for all the support because we needed that, especially at the end. I’m happy we advanced and I can’t wait to play against Portland."
On the pressure of the playoffs:
"It’s difficult. We felt that we were a little down and knew a goal could win the series for them. We tried to push ourselves a little bit more and a little bit more. This is a championship mentality. I think this team has it. You need the fans and a little bit of luck and that’s how you advance."