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Post-game quotes: D.C. United 2 - Chicago Fire 1

MLS 2009 QUOTESHEET
SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2009 – D.C. UNITED 2, CHICAGO FIRE 1

D.C. UNITED HEAD COACH TOM SOEHN
On Wicks’ penalty save

Obviously the guy shooting is always in favor. Josh [Wicks], not only with that save, had a really fantastic day today. He really established himself as a presence when balls came in the box, and came up with some really good plays.

On the game
I think the possession part of our game lacked a little bit in the first half. We didn’t open up and Josh [Wicks] kicked a lot of balls that I’d rather see him play out a little bit, get Christian [Gomez] more involved but I think overall our defensive performance was great. But I have to compliment Chicago. There were too many times the team was trying to pack it in and they did a great job, they came at us. As a fan you watch the game and it had everything and that makes the League better. It was an exciting game to watch and I think they did a great job. But overall our team defended well, that was important. The goal they scored Josh [Wicks] probably couldn’t have done anything with that, it was a good shot but they have to work hard to create their chances and our defenders defended very well today.

On Christian Gomez
What we saw out of Christian [Gomez] today was not only offensive but he worked hard defensively and when he does that he makes us a better team. Today he had a very good performance. We only took him out to solidify things, to put an extra forward in but he could have finished the game.

On Chris Pontius
We moved him around a little bit to solidify ourselves a little more defensively. His versatility continues to make us a better team. We can move him around in spots where we think he can help us.

On the team’s defensive effort
As a team, I though defensively we did a pretty good job. Obviously, Brian [McBride] is a handful. Tactically, they loft a lot of balls into him. He’s not an easy guy to win balls on and he made it hard for them.

On moving to the top of the Eastern Conference
It’s obviously a relief to finish off a game and be in first place, but it’s short lived. We have to turn around and go back to work. The sign of a good team is the ability to go and perform on the road. That’s another test we’ll have to do. Every season has major tests and this is one. We have to show them we can step up and play for something against a good team.

On Thabiso Khumalo’s play coming off the bench
He added a lot of life. He really worked to get into spots and he really caused them a lot of havoc. He’s been good training and the guy needed to be rewarded. And if he continues to do that, he’ll be rewarded more.

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER CLYDE SIMMS
On the team’s first game vs. Seattle next week

Some of us played a game [at Qwest Field in Seattle] before against Real Madrid. But they play on turf and it should be a good crowd in their favor. It should be a fun atmosphere to play in and we’ll just go there trying to get three points.

On the defensive shape
We wanted to try to stay compact more than we did. The way they started to play with McBride up top, they dump a lot of balls and we were constantly trying to hold the line. I feel like if we give too much, they have too many options. He can either flick it on or drop it down for someone running on to it. So we were trying to stay compact but he’s so good in the air that it’s tough.

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER/FORWARD SANTINO QUARANTA
On the game’s chipiness

Yeah, it’s good. It’s the way it should be. It was tough, it was a hard fought game with first place was on the line. You hope that they come at you and we’d respond, and I though that’s what we did.

On whether the two penalty kick calls evened out
You kind of get the feeling that was what happened. That usually happens in soccer. It was a make-up call and Josh came up big for us and that was the end of that.

On the referee calling fouls on tackles from behind
You try to protect the players from behind, even if it’s a good tackle and it’s from behind, you still can’t do that. I though he refereed the game decent.

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER CHRISTIAN GOMEZ
On getting the three points at home

At home, we always have to win – whatever it takes. Even if we play bad or good, as long as we have the three points. Tonight, we beat the conference leader so we’re feeling good about ourselves.

On his return season with United so far
I feel good to be back. This is like my home. The fans have a good vibe with me and it’s good for me to give back for all their support. Overall, I feel good to be back.

On coming back from his unsuccessful season with Colorado
When you don’t play for three months, which was the case in Colorado, you lose match fitness, and obviously it takes some time to recover that. Tonight, I played 86 minutes and I felt very good, so slowly I’m recovering from my fitness level, which is the only thing that really changed.

On his current fitness level
Match fitness is what you need. The more minutes you get, the more confidence a player gets. Because obviously when you are on the field, you’re able to contribute, so that’s what I’m doing.

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER/FORWARD CHRIS PONTIUS
On frequently changing positions

I’m comfortable, especially when you have a lot of veterans around you. With great players, as long as you find them, they’re going to find you in the right spots. You just got to keep working off the ball.

On the upcoming road trip
It’s going to be tough, especially on the road, traveling all the way to the west coast. Our depth on our team is going to be huge for this road trip. I think you’ll see a lot of players in these next coming games who haven’t gotten a much time.

On the victory
We battled through, we got the win and Wicks came through with a couple of big saves, which is huge for us.

D.C. UNITED GOALKEEPER JOSH WICKS
On his penalty kick save

As soon as the PK was called, I was upset. But before he even stepped up, I chose a side to go to. I tried not to second guess myself because that’s when I freeze up. So I just chose my right to dive to and I just wanted to hold my ground as long as possible so I wouldn’t give it away. And as soon as he was ready to plant and kick, I just dove and was fortunate to get a hand on it.

On his mindset entering the match
Going into it, you know it’s going to be a battle. You know it’s going to be a hard fought match, all the way through 90 minutes, and the guys were up for it, and I was up for it too.

On securing the starting goalkeeping job
My confidence is definitely growing more and more each game. The defense played well tonight as well. Late in the game, they cleared two, three, four balls off the line. The battle with McBride – I think they won tonight. He’s a big guy, he gets his head on everything. [Bryan] Namoff, Dejan [Jakovic] and [Marc] Burch, all three of them played strong.

CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH DENIS HAMLETT
On the game

We’re disappointed; we played a pretty good game. I thought there were three calls in my opinion that were pretty close and affected the outcome of the game. You deal with it and you move on.

On the penalty kick
One hundred percent no PK. One hundred percent no foul on the second call. If it’s a foul, it’s a foul for us. Then he makes up for the other ones and gives us a PK. That affected the game today, in my opinion.

On what he said to the referee
I didn’t say anything to him. I said to the fourth official that in the first half there were two calls that the result led to goals. Everyone in the stadium, everyone watching on TV saw that the first one was not a PK. I thought our response was very good after the PK. We came back and scored a great goal. On another play they scored a great free kick, but I didn’t think that was a foul. Now we’re down, 2-1, at halftime. I thought our response was good in the second half. We had a good chance in front and we don’t do well with that and obviously the save on the PK. I think that took a little bit out of us. We made some changes and I think we got a push towards the end. We had the free kick with John [Thorrington] hat hit the cross bar. So there’s disappointment because I thought we played well.

On what he said to the team
[I said we] just have to keep positive. We’re playing well, we’re creating chances and sometimes we’re not finishing chances. Just have to make sure we have a little bit better concentration at the goal and we’ll turn some of those chances into goals.

CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD BRIAN MCBRIDE
On the missed penalty kick

It was at the right height in the goal and the goalie picked the right side. You know, it’s my fault. We didn’t come away from this game with points because of that free kick.

On the refereeing
You know, that’s not my job to talk about. Regardless of that situation, if I make that penalty we tie the game.

On the game
We felt like we played well in the first half. I think we had more of the game in the first half than we did in the first half of the first time we played. But it doesn’t change the result.

CHICAGO FIRE GOALKEEPER JON BUSCH
On the game

You know, this is D.C. This is what they do. They come out strong in the first 15 minutes and really take it to you. Both teams, as the game went on, had chances. I thought we had some good chances pushing forward, especially in the second half. Without getting fined, I think some of the calls were very questionable. I tried to have a conversation with the referee after the first penalty kick and ask him what his explanation was, and I simply get a “shut your mouth. I’m right, you’re always wrong.” I mean, I don’t think you should be able to talk to players like that. I just wanted to ask for an explanation about it. It’s one of those plays where the guy gets the shot off and I’m jumping in the air because it looks like he’s going to chip it. I can’t control my momentum if he gets the shot off. Now if he doesn’t get the shot off then absolutely it’s a penalty kick. So this is my opinion, I don’t want to get fined, it’s not a penalty kick. Second time [Christian] Gomez had a hell of a strike. Again, you know, it’s just a defender going up to head the ball, and the guy backs into him. Again, credit to D.C. I’m not trying to take anything away from them. They’re a very good team. It’s always a tough place to play. But I think we had just as many good, quality chances as they did. We gave it a good go, and there are a lot of positives for us to take out of it.

On Gomez’s free kick
I got a good read on it. If he put it a little bit closer to me then maybe I could’ve gotten a hand on it. But he’s one of the best in the league at hitting free kicks. Tip your hat off to him.

Broadcasting and P.A. Request: When speaking of the organization, please refer to the team as either “D.C. United” or “United,” but not “the D.C. United” or “the United.” We appreciate your cooperation.

Doug Hicks, dhicks@dcunited.com, (202) 587-5448,
Boris Flores, bflores@dcunited.com, (202) 587-5452,
Kyle Sheldon, ksheldon@dcunited.com, (202) 587-5450 or
Cristina Cruz, ccruz@dcunited.com, (202) 587-5440