Monday, June 18, 2018

Sporting KC victory over Cruz Azul – coach reacts

March 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Specials

Sporting Kansas City will enter the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals ahead on aggregate after the team’s 1-0 victory over Cruz Azul on Wednesday at Sporting Park. Homegrown defender Kevin Ellis scored the decisive goal in the 17th minute on an assist from Designated Player Claudio Bieler.

>Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

This is a competition that we have been waiting for two years since we won the U.S. Open Cup and qualified. We knew going into the quarterfinals that Cruz Azul was going to be the most difficult opponent that we would face. It’s a very good team, well coached and the players are technically sound. For us, it was a big match and we expended a lot of energy. We worked very hard and it’s a shame we could not get a second goal. We had some very good chances. But all in all, I think our work ethic ruled the day. But if you really take it over a 90-minute match, this is the first half and we have another half to play when we go to Mexico. We still have a big challenge in front of us.

Thoughts on Kevin Ellis scoring…
It’s great because he scored for our team … that is what’s great. In the end, it’s all about the team. It’s obviously a big story for our organization since he is a homegrown player. He comes into a very special moment in our club’s history and finds himself with a goal as well as playing a good game. It’s a good step in the right direction for him but he has a long way to go and he has to keep getting better.

On the defensive effort…
We talked about the fact that it will take every roll of the ball for us to be concentrated and focused for 90+ minutes. We knew they were very crafty and they could find opportunities off mistakes and capitalize very quickly when you are not paying attention. I thought our concentration was excellent. Take the situation with Ike [Opara]. For his recovery to get to the goal line and not give up on the play when he could have … it showed tremendous heart and it just shows the character of the group.

On the physicality of the match…
It’s always interesting to me that everyone comments on the physical play. I think the difference is that we don’t provide a lot of space for teams. They are under pressure and when you are close, it’s a man’s game. There is a going to be some contact here and there and at the end of the day, I think the pressure is something that helped us throughout the game and never let them settle in. To be able to do what we did for 90 minutes, that early in the season, being our second game and coming off a game three days ago, a tremendous effort by the guys. That is what it means to be Sporting Fit.

Thoughts on the second leg…
I expect for them to come out and throw everything at us. They are playing at home and are a very good team. We knew them well before this game and we know them a lot better now. And they are not going to go down without a major fight. We are going to have to be prepared for everything and as much as our concentration and focus and work ethic was good here, it will need to be double there because it will be a difficult match.

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