On going for the win late by subbing on multiple forwards
Yeah, I had five strikers on. I think I scared the life out of our staff tonight, Adam, Simon and Tony. They said, ‘what are you doing, we’re controlling the game’. Normally in a game like that, when you dominate the game with so many chances, it flips on you so I wanted to change the dynamic. And I felt to the very end we looked like the team most likely to score.
I was very pleased with the players tonight. I think our energy levels were right up there after a tough Wednesday game away. I feel that the play out of the back was good all night, we worked the ball very well out of the back and into midfield and created a lot of chances. It was always about creating chances; if you’re not creating chances, you’ve got a problem. Out problem tonight was one we haven’t experienced as of late and that was finding the back of the net.
Crossbar, post, side netting, keeper pulling off a few good saves, I can’t have any complaints with how we played.
On his thoughts on Carlton Cole’s cameo
I think we have to know how to use Carlton when he comes on. He’s not match fit. I think one thing that’s good for us is... we’re able to hit balls to the back post. He’s made a living out of scoring goals on the back post and making goals. Even in the short space of time we managed to find him. If you loft the ball in there and it’s not a great ball, he can make it into a great ball. That’s what he’s going to bring at the moment until we can get his match fitness up. I think it was a buzz for the crowd seeing an ex-Premier League player come on with a Sacramento shirt on. It’s not something that’s for show, it’s something we feel that we can use. I said to Carlton “have you got 20 minutes” and he said yeah.
I think in the end we showed massive intent. We had five strikers on the field with Cameron and Danny Barrera, who’s an attacking player in midfield. I thought Elliott Hord at right back was fantastic for his debut. I think we’ve found a real player there. Very good going forward, clever, intelligent, understood when to deliver and when to play, and I really liked him.
There were a lot of pluses tonight. The only negative was that we took one point instead of three.
On the Republic creating multiple chances and working the ball out of the back.
Well that’s our style of play. Our style of play is to come out of the back and it’s something that we’ve been working hard on.
I think tonight, if I’m honest, I think everybody was on top of their game. Sometimes you carry one or two in a game, but I don’t think anyone had an off day. Chris Christian and da Fonte worked the ball well. The secret tonight was to keep patient and work it from side to side — come back to the goalie, go out the other way. I think we wore them out. They were tired. That comes from keeping the ball, possessing the ball, and waiting for opportunities.
I think we had a lot of standout players. And Cameron Iwasa — in all fairness to Cameron, he’s becoming a very complete striker. He’s adding to his game, he’s adding goals, but tonight he showed a lot of different qualities over 90 minutes. He was able to recieve the ball to feet and turn, he was good at laying it off, and he was good in the channel. We found him in the channel so many times. He’s one that’s definitely showing that he’s got huge potential.
But it’d be unfair for me to single one player out. I think Barrera’s talent at finding his runs and Kiffe bombing forward.
But that’s how we play. We fill up the middle and we want to go on the outside. We’ve missed Emrah Klimenta and I think Elliott gave us something we’ve been missing. It enabled me to push Octavio Guzman up because we didn’t have Tommy Thompson.
It was all set up for us to go and take another three points but we’re on a very good run. I think at this point in the season, performance levels are very important if you’re heading towards the playoffs. Performance levels are high for us right now and we have to keep them there. The boys have been on a big training span at the moment where they’ve had very little days off, so there’s now going to be a few days off to rest. We’ve got heavy legs. I’m having to take off LaGrassa, I’m having to take off JJ, Jeremy Hall, who’s been a great signing. They’re putting a real shift in. Very pleased with all the boys. It’s getting exciting.
On how Buckle and Republic have been able to stay at or near the top of the table with so many injuries and so much roster turnover.
Belief. Belief in what we’re doing at the club. At the end of last season we lost players, we allowed players to move on because it’s club policy. While we’re in USL it’s club policy if a player could get a higher caliber of football then we’ve allowed it. We can all be proud with how we’ve glued it together again and brought people like Chris Christian in — and da Fonte -- when we lost the two center halves. I’m very pleased.
I believe our recruitment was right. Letting Thomas Stewart go, I believe, was correct. Nothing against Tom, I loved him as a player. He just wasn’t finding the net for Sacramento and I think sometimes you have to let players move on to allow other players to come through. Cameron Iwasa now is the one who the majority of the time stood there, talking afterwards, when before he was sort of in the background.
I don’t think we’ve got any superstar players in Sacramento. I think we’ve put a team together that’s really functional now, very much together as a group, fights right to the very end and is also now showing great quality.
We’ve worked very hard — Graham Smith must take a lot of credit for recruitment, he puts a lot of players in front of me. And the policy has been not to allow anybody into the club that doesn’t share our core values, which is being a good person and working hard.
His thoughts on his first Republic start at Bonney Field
It was really nice to be here, the atmosphere was electric. It was a weird feeling, I can’t really explain it. To be surrounded by so many people and the positive vibes from the fans. I just got a lot of good feedback from my teammates as well. It was big, it was emotional. When I came off the field I was pretty emotional because it’s a big step for me. I still have a lot to prove but I think it kind of proved myself a bit tonight.
On whether or not there were nerves tonight.
Yeah, at times. But I felt that we were very organized. I know where my teammates are and where we’re all going to be at. We have that trust between each other; I’ve got their back, they’ve got my back.
I think for the first 10 or 15 minutes I was just trying to figure out the rhythm and adjust to the speed, but other than that I think it went on well.
On whether or not he let some local family and friends about his upcoming debut.
Yeah, I told everyone I could. I did have some friends, my past teammates were here. My family, of course. I told my coaches but they’re pretty busy with their season as well, but they told me congratulations. It’s nice to have them have the opportunity to come since it’s right down the road. It’s big. It’s big for me to be back up here since I have a lot of roots back to Davis and the Sacramento area.
On how it is to join a team in first place and with a reputation like the Republic.
Playing in the PDL, in the preseason games we’d play against Sacramento every year. I’ve known about Sacramento — I was actually here in the first season on trial, but it just didn’t work out. It’s kinda funny how I made a big loop around and now I’m back here. I can’t imagine seeing myself on the field now. I was going to the games before, the old 20,000 games at [Hughes Stadium] and sitting there like “You know what, I’ll be back here.”
On the difference in speed of play between PDL and USL
I think the quality here is obviously much higher and the pace in certain moments are higher, but I think in the PDL you’re going to have teams a little more erratic and kind of running to run. Here it’s organized, but when you do make those runs or you have a play, the intensity of that play, of that moment, is much more significant. It’s very situational rather than constant running in the PDL where you’re constantly battling and guys are just 100% full speed all the time. Here it’s wait, wait, wait and then attack. It’s just a change of pace and that’s what took me by surprise.
On playing with a guy like Carlton Cole
With a guy on that level, it’s amazing to be a part of a team with a player like that. As I said, just leaving my PDL season and coming into a team and Carlton Cole’s going to be here, it’s like “holy crap, man.” I didn’t know what to do or to say when I saw him, I was a little overwhelmed... but he’s a really nice guy and he has a good work eithic. The team’s excited to have him moving forward. I thought he did well tonight, he almost had a goal there at the end.
Now that you’ve read their comments, go to the Indomitable City Soccer Facebook page and watch the videos of the post-match press conference with your own eyes,