When asked if he was breathing alright (referencing both the atrocious air quality and the fact that Buckle got heated a few times during the match)
Yeah, I got quite animated tonight. It just proves how important the game was and how hard we worked this season. I just wanted to support my team.
The problem — which Curt’s apologized for — is that they had the ball when their player is down. So anybody that knows football, if their player is on the floor and they have the ball, they have the right to kick it out. So you kick it out and you get the trainer on. They chose not to. They chose to challenge our goal, lose it, and then they expect us to kick it out. So that was what the problem was and that’s understanding the game.
The game needs to be played in the right spirit and I don’t think it was at times [tonight]. I think they went down too easy. And it’s not good enough. I don’t want that in games, I think it needs to be kicked out — especially with young development players. I mean, come on. Every time they’re touched they’re on the floor. And in the end I thought it was a dreadful elbow on Barrera that warranted a straight red, not a yellow. So there were things that made things boil over.
But ultimately it’s about the game. But the game seemed to be littered with fouls, which I hate seeing, I hate seeing it for our fans. But a point in the end is a good return because it keeps us at the top of the league.
On the smokey conditions and how it was for the players
I think both teams coped well. We didn’t want to allow breaks, we spoke about breaks. I think if you’re going to play the game, play it. And you want to see a fast flowing game, which is what we try to do. In the end we got some reward, which I felt we deserved.
We got caught out of shape for the goal. Elliott got caught too far inside, which allowed them 1-v-1 on the outside. It was a good goal, it was a good bit of play by their lad.
In the first half, we lacked the final ball. We lacked a bit of quality in the final third, which is the hardest part of the game. We were patient in the end and we got our reward. It was a fine strike from Cameron. He did everything you want a striker to do, he kept it low and went across the face. Kneeshaw did what he does best, which is be in the right place at the right time.
I felt in the end that we could have pinched it. The plan was to keep getting the ball wide, which we did. We just didn’t have that final ball.
On his decision to start the game with a 5-3-2 formation
Well the back five I liked in the second half in LA. What it does is allow us to play two strikers. We want to play out from the back. It allows us to have our fullbacks very high, which they were. So it gives us an option to go through teams or on the outside and we did that. We did that very well until the final third. Like I said, it was that final ball. There were too many things that were hung up or hit the first man. But that’s the hardest part of the game, the final third is the hardest part of the match.
I have to be delighted. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved so far. I’m proud of the club, the plaers, the staff. I told the staff after the game. I’m still feeling pretty fresh, which is unusual. Normally at the end of the season I’m shattered, but I feel fresh. We’re looking forward to Tulsa next week and then obviously the playoffs.
On the contributions on James Kiffe and which other players he was impressed with.
Well that’s the benefit of playing three center backs, it allows Kiffe to go up the field. We switched the play very well and James is very good at taking people on.
I think Carlos, the young lad, 19, Carlos Rodriguez, was superb at center half. Unlucky to be brought off, it was purely tactical moving to a back four. I thought he was a standout.
I think this was a night where all the boys kept going. The subs, we got that right again. Kneeshaw coming on, he’s unlucky not to start the game.
Every one of these players has given me and the football club everything,. That’s what I asked for way back in February when we got together and they’ve done it. And I’m sure they’re going to keep doing it now.
And as you guys all know, we need to finish this league off and then it’s cup football, where you need a bit of everything.
On the Republic having a playoff game at home
It’s good. It’s good from a finance point of view for us and its credit to the players. I would’ve took this at the start of the season. Like I said to you guys the other week, for the changes that we’ve done [this season], for everybody that moved — top players left our club and it wasn’t easy. I would’ve definitely taken this at the start.
His thoughts on why Iwasa might have been a bit subdued against LA
Well I think he’s had a terrific season. Players are allowed to have an indifferent game. But what you have to say is he’s an assist again. And what Iwasa’s done all season is either score goals or make goals, and that ‘s his job. He was dynamic enough to drive into the space, he kept the ball low on a greasy surface, he worked the goalie, and he’s done his job.
They’re a good side. They’re a team that’s full of talent, and rightly so with how big their football club is. Like I said, I wasn’t pleased. And I don’t normally talk about the opposition, but I hate seeing what they’ve done and we’ve seen it so many times. I think they’ve spoiled the game a little bit.
On what would be the ideal situation for the first playoff game
Well first off, I want to win the league. I want to win the title. Obviously that’s a major thing for me. I want us to be the best in our division. So that’s the first thing I want us to do because we’ve never done that as a club. So that’s something that I want to do. So that’ll be the message this week and we’ll need to go to Tulsa and be on the top of our game.
The huddle in the middle after the game was to thank them and to say ‘look. Let’s live our lives right this week on and off the field. And let’s go to Tulsa and mean business, because it would be an achievement if we could to it.’
His thoughts on his goal
It’s just a striker’s finish. I saw that Cam was lined up for the shot and I just chanced my luck. I knew that if I set off that I was always going to get the run on the defenders. Luckily the goalkeeper paired it out to me.
We needed something and I’m happy to have done it back to back now in consecutive weeks to score against LA. It’s a shame we didn’t come out with three points, but happy to score and get the point at least.
On his goal celebration
To be honest, I just kind of lost control for a second. I saw the fans, saw the Battalion going crazy, so I’d thought I’d just do everything really. Just mix everything into one. I’m lucky I didn’t dance, because that could have got ugly really quickly. Maybe next time I’ll get some dance moves out. I’ll be practicing.