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Post-Match Quotes: Buckle, Kneeshaw, and Ochoa on Republic’s win over OCSC

Buckle, Kneeshaw, and Ochoa give their thoughts about Saturday’s home opener.

Alex Leguizamo/Indomitable City Soccer

Paul Buckle

On Sammy Ochoa’s impact.

Absolutely thrilled with Sammy. I think he’s doing everything I thought he would do. He came in two months prior to the season getting underway. He came in and worked hard... He’s a great guy, Sammy. One thing he does is he effects the game. He scores goal and he creates goals. He can finish. We’ve been crying out for that and he’s dangerous. He’s been dangerous in training and that strike in the first half set us off.

The start of the game wasn’t what we wanted. We didn’t start very well. That’s two games now where we haven’t started as well as we would like. But you’re not going to get it all straight away at the start of the season. Orange County are a good side, they’ve added a lot of quality to their squad.

I think tonight we showed what a good team we can be this season. Very please with four goals. Very pleased with a clean sheet. Delighted that I was able to bring Evan [Newton] in — I thought he made an important save at the start of the game. We’ve got two good goalkeepers. Like I’ve said, without using the word rotation, we’re going to use them both this season.

On Kneeshaw’s effect on the game and on the team.

Well we brought Trevin and Sammy in — and of course you’d think he was going to start. Those two are experienced players. I was looking at starting those two.

But Wilson has had such a good preseason and did very well when he came on. Sometimes players take a while to settle — Trevin’s wife and family had not been here but they’re here now. I thought Wilson really deserved a start after last weekend. Maybe then Trevin could sit and see what we’re about. See how we do things and how we want to play. I think Wilson gave him a great insight as to what we’re looking for. I thought he was a handful, so to speak, in terms of never giving their back four a minute’s peace. And again, he’s dangerous in front of goal. I thought he took his goal very well. It was nice to be able to make the substitutions and bring fresh legs on.

Our fitness levels look excellent. We looked clinical — the biggest thing tonight for us is that we looked clinical in front of goal. I think when we got in we looked like we meant business. Good deliveries into the box. Good to get your strikers on the scoresheet.

On the fact that there were no natural center backs and whether we might see that more going forward.

Evan kindly reminded me today on Twitter that none of them were defenders, so I was a bit worried when I read that before the game since that meant we had no defenders. But look, I didn’t anticipate those two guys starting together in the middle in preseason. I always felt that Klimenta could do that job and Hall’s been a revelation in terms of his willingness to play anywhere. So it worked in the second half last week. It really worked. We were functional. And sometimes you don’t need to try and fix it if it isn’t broke. And that’s what I’ve done tonight, I’ve picked the team that finished off [last week] more or less, other than Dom having a rest.

And it worked. I think both of them are comfortable on the ball. They’re both comfortable and as the game opens up they’re able to come out very well with the ball and give us good balls into midfield so we can start the attacks better.

On what changed from the first half to the second half to help Republic deal with OCSC’s attack.

Well the tactical approach was that the two player they had — the left winger would drift inside, too far for Hord to follow him because then he’d leave space. The midfield had a responsible night tonight, Auggie and Moffat. They had to screen, because Orange County like their best striker coming off as well. And again, you don’t want Klimenta coming into those areas and leaving space.

We got that right. We spoke about that at half time and we ended up getting that right. I think what we did better was we pressed a bit higher, we were more aggressive. We didn’t give them a much time as we did first half. I think Blackwood and Barrera were key to that, really stepping in.

And like I say, it’s always great when we’re one up and we go in that way, because I thought the support tonight was incredible. The noise levels were excellent and we didn’t disappoint.

Wilson Kneeshaw

On the connection between himself and Tyler Blackwood, who assisted his goal.

Oh definitely. We work on it every day in training. He’s [Blackwood] obviously English so we’ve got that connection there. We all work together, even with Sammy [Ochoa] getting the assist, working together with him is like a partnership. It’s all coming together. So for the second game this season I think we’re in very good shape.

On how this goal compares with the equalizer against Galaxy last season.

I mean, it’s all just building on the experience of Sacramento. I came last August and helped the team get first in the conference. But I’m here for the season this time. I want to build on it and do even better. And what better funs, eh? To score in front of the Battalion is unreal.

On playing with Ochoa and how he changes things.

It’s unreal. He can hold up the ball, he can bring you into it. As I said, the partnership we’re getting together, we work on it everyday in training. Me running in behind, him running behind, it’s all coming together. It’s really nice to have someone that’s strong up there but also can play. I know that he’s looking for me and he knows that I’m looking for him when we get in the situation.

On the upcoming three game stretch of road games and how the team can take the home crowd energy with them on the road.

I mean, we’re a very positive group. I think from last season, if anything has changed, that has changed. We have a very energetic group and sometimes it gets too energetic, especially on the road. We always want to win. That’s the main thing for us. Winning is priority. No matter who faces us, we’re always going to put 100% in and we’re going to try our hardest to win.

We have a very close-knit group. Everyone feels comfortable with everyone, whether that’s playing pranks or just being themselves which is the main thing. Football’s a lot of personality and everyone’s bringing out the personality this year.

Any on April Fool’s jokes?

No that I know of, no. I saw one that Sporting KC did, but there wasn’t anything going on between us thankfully. Well to be fair, my flip-flops did go missing before the game. I don’t know if it’s April Fool’s or if something happened... They’ll probably be there after the game now that I’ve scored.

Sammy Ochoa

On how he scored his two goals.

Just following the play. Being at the right time at the right place. It’s actually goals by Wilson that happened by me. I’m just here to pick up the trash. We have to win and that’s the most important thing.

On how it was to play with a player with Kneeshaw’s speed and craftiness.

It’s good, man. He fights nonstop, the whole time he’s in there he’s fighting. He deserved his goal too. Just happy to play with him or whoever’s up there. We’re all competing, we’re all ready for whatever Coach puts out there.

On his look of shock when he missed out on a hat trick.

I think that was the easiest one to put in and it didn’t go in. But the goals will come. I’m not trying to score a hat trick every game, I’m trying to help the team as best as I can and we got the win tonight.

On how high his confidence level is, now that he has three goals in two games and even attempted a bicycle kick against OC.

Good, you know. We’ve got six points, which is the most important thing. And I’m happy that the team’s playing well and that we’re scoring goals. The opportunities are there, we’ve just got to put them away. And today we put our chances away.

On how there seems to be an emphasis on the team working for each other.

That’s what we work on during the week and we try to put it into play during the game. And it showed. We played out of the back, we played in behind, we played to feet and it felt like we played well. And playing at home, you can’t beat that.

On how his hold up play helped the team.

Yeah that’s one of my strengths. I can hold the ball up, let the defense push up and bang on from there.

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