On the Republic’s tendency to make things difficult on themselves
We might as well end the interview there, you’ve done and summed the whole thing up. It’s very difficult not to get frustrated, I can assure you, as head coach. Our number of chances are going up, they’re not going down. I’ll have to be happy on the amount of chances because for me, we were very functional again, very, very good at changing systems. We played with a 4-1-3-2. I thought we’ve done really well with the ball. We created numerous chances that need to be put away. They need to be put in the back of the net to give us the breathing space to go on.
I think sooner or later we are going to give somebody a real lesson in terms of putting the ball in the net because it can’t continue like this. Like I said, the chances were there to get four, five, six really good chances. And then we find ourselves keeping them in the game. We’re keeping them in the game. They’re not in the game, no disrespect to them, we were all over them with a dominant performance. But if you don’t score the goals, you invite pressure. One strike again from the edge of the box, top corner again — we’re getting used to it, we’re sort of used to it as a team, actually, and as a staff — and we reacted. We reacted again. I was confident we could score from a cross, I was confident da Fonte could get on something. We looked dangerous all night from set plays and delivery was very good. It’s one of them where we needed to win. I said to the players before the game to win at all costs.
I thought we were easily good enough to win and we played some good football.
I don’t want to stand here and be down on a win, but our standards have got to be higher. My standards are higher than that. I made that very clear before the kickoff. We’ve worked very hard on the different fitness regime now. We work differently, I think it’s paying dividends. We’re scoring a lot of goals late in games. Our fitness levels are there, there’s lots to be pleased about.
But the game is about being ruthless. We have a golden opportunity this season, with the way we’re playing and the way we’ve settled down as a group, we’re looking good, we’re opening teams up, it’s good to watch but we’ve got to have the killer instinct. We have to find a way, a mentality of being nastier in the 18 yard box. A way of saying “there you go, there’s two, there’s three” and then teams really have a problem. But if its one... it can make life difficult. But, character was there from the players. We’re scoring goals from all over the field.
And also you have to be mindful that we lost Emrah, who is a big player for us both defensively and attacking. We had to reshuffle and I wanted to be positive, so I put in Tavo and brought on Tommy Thompson to take the game to them.
On the Klimenta injury
He had a twist. Normally you can see when a player goes down and Emrah’s not a player that will stay down. It was an awkward fall. We tried to give him a few minutes to recover, which put us under a bit of pressure. They had a spell in that five minutes, but it wasn’t to be and it’s a worry that he’s now probably going to have a bit of time on the sideline. I thought Tavo did excellent at right back. We patched up tactically. All night we were making moves tactically to foil them to see the game out and I thought we did a good job of that.
Cameron Iwasa played in three different positions tonight. He played central, he played up top, and then we changed him to the left because he’s very responsible near the end of a game. Everybody played the part, we used subs again. The spirit is high, the spirit in the team and the supporters tonight was excellent.
On James Kiffe’s Performance
The way we played tonight with Koval sitting and three across the middle and one with Williams, we dominated the middle. Teams have to pay respect to that by coming in and that leaves James and Emrah space. If you look at the quality of the delivery — something I’ve been talking about for a number of months -- that’s time compounded. We’ve been working on the training ground for months getting the delivery right. I can remember standing there where both Emrah and Kiffe were sailing balls out of the back of the goal. Now the ball is going into zones that we want it to go into. Confidence comes from that with the strikers making runs — and even center backs. When James Kiffe is in that mood where he’s going to go forward and deliver, we’re a really dangerous team and that’s one thing that I feel we’ve added.
On Mike da Fonte’s performances
Another example of waiting for your opportunity in a team that’s fighting to play... we’ve got every player hungry, which is what I wanted with a smaller squad. Every player is fit and able. To lose Foran with the run we’ve been on would normally be a worry, but we’ve got da Fonte there who we’ve managed physically and mentally — because he wants to play, he’s come to Sacramento to play. But the competition’s there, he knows now he’s got to put in performances like that to keep his place.
On Tommy Thompson’s performance
When I’m on the side... I can’t really concentrate on how good some of the performances were. But I would pay to watch Tommy Thompson, I would pay to watch Alvarez, Barrera, Camerona Iwasa, Harry Williams tonight. I chose to play Harry to give him another opportunity. He’s a young player andI thought he’s done great in front of Jahn. He’s intelligent, he took his goal well.
So there’s a lot of pleasing things. Normally things settle down tomorrow morning and I look at the game again. People like Tommy is what I want to see. I want to see Tommy Thompson on the ball, I encourage him to get on the ball all over the field. And I think by his own admission he should have had a couple of goals tonight.
He said to me before the game that he loves coming to play here. Dominik’s been very fair with us again in allowing him to come. And it shows the measure of Tommy that he’d come and sit on the bench for us.
On the connection between Harry Williams and Adam Jahn
Well we don’t know how long we’re going to be able to keep Adam for. I think what our strikers need to see is hold-up play and that’s something we’ve been working on with Pridham in holding the ball up. It’s a big part of the game and Jahn gives you that. Jahn allows you to join and we’ve got very technical players in front of him. We don’t need to get behind him, we need to get in front.
And Williams’s timing is excellent. I know Harry, I brought him to the club. I know what he can do. For somebody who’s just 20 years of age, he shows great intelligence. It takes timing, you need to be clever off the big man.
I’ve started to leave Auggie out, which was hard on Auggie since he’s been part of our great run. But it was a positive move and Williams also gives us something defensively which is important.
On whether or not Williams could be an important part of the Republic’s future.
Well yeah. I mean, I think so. That’s a challenge for everybody. A challenge for the players, the coaching staff. Can we have a record of wins here, can we be a dominant team in a tough division. I think we can. I think we can have a number of players. As I keep telling them all, you have to work hard. And I think the improvement you’ve seen in certain players — Iwasa like I spoke of before and Williams -- of course we can. All of them can play in MLS if they want, it’s up to them. It’s going to be abut the effort on the field. Williams has age on his side, he knows where the goal is, for me he looks dangerous. And again, he’s still finding his feet in the US. I was pleased with Pridham the other week when he came on and scored. I’m very pleased with the squad. The mentality and the togetherness of the team is what I wanted in the season.
On whether or not there’s some frustration when a team has numerous chances and they won’t go in.
No, there is. And that’s where I have to be careful not to get frustrated, and I did get frustrated. But only for about 30 seconds. Then I started thinking clearly. The longer the game is one-nil, in my experience when you’ve had that many opportunities and not scored, the opposition will nick one. So we spoke, I said to the coaches “start thinking about how we see the game out and start thinking about if they get one.” So we were ready, but I feel like we’re ready as a group from the staff to the players. I’m sure it looks that way, the way we set up. And I’m really enjoying the challenge — and it is a challenge. We’re up to it at the moment. The key for us is to keep improving.
On if the upcoming long sequence of road games, is coming at a good time.
My wife doesn’t think so. Before I left the house she asked if I had seen July and I said sort of. She said you’re not here. But that’s the game. Me and Adam [Smith] just spoke there and I said to the staff to that we need to talk about what’s right now and I said for me it’s Wednesday night. We need to prepare the players now, whether it’s coming in everyday or giving them a day or two off. Whatever we have to do to get the performance levels for Wednesday. Because we know if we keep winning games we’re right where we want to be and we’ll deal with the road afterwards. So it’s Wednesday night now. It’s forget this now, enjoy it for tonight, then forget it, move on and try and improve for Wednesday night.
On who’s going to win the Euros
Wales, I should say, right, being an Englishman? Did you see them all celebrate when we got knocked out?
On how much the recent shuffling of the lineups is due to the dynamics of a specific game vs the search for a solid starting eleven.
I’m being careful not to mess around with the system, but we’ve worked on systems for quite a while and we worked on this system yesterday. I always look at the opposition and I look at what they’re going to do and where we can find space. I thought tonight we did a good job of shutting them out. They’ve got pace, they’re and MLS 2 side, they’re no pushover. I thought the system worked.
I think any system that you want to play, if you work on it — and I liked what I saw, I liked the balance of it. I was confident it would work, and I think it did work. I think the chances created in any system counts for nothing if you cant see a game out. But again, credit to the players because you need a certain character of belief and I think you can see that in the team.
Mike da Fonte
On what happened on his game-winning goal and what was going through his mind.
It was nice because [Danny Barrera] put the ball in the back post and I got off my man and saw some space and put it back across the goalie. Seeing it hit that back of the net was nice because that guy was saving everything tonight. It was insane.
On what he’s been doing in training to lead up to this game.
Well this week’s been pretty intense, we did a lot of conditioning and stuff. We had a lot of days off at the beginning of the week because last week we had three pretty intense days of practice. It was good coming to this game because we were all ready.
His thoughts on the team maintaining its form in the upcoming stretch of road games.
It’s going to be tough but we can do it. We’ll be on a streak still.
On the team’s missed opportunities
I mean, we all know we missed a lot. But as long as we get the three points, that’s all that matters at the end of the day. We know that we have the quality up front to get goals and we’re always going to create opportunities. It’s just a matter of time until we score them.