Post-Match Quotes: April 5, 2013

"We talk about earning the right to play soccer." - Ben Olsen

Ben Olsen

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

D.C. UNITED HEAD COACH BEN OLSEN

On D.C. United’s 1-0 loss to Sporting KC
I thought it was a great effort from us tonight. I was very proud of they way they went about it. We had a long two weeks of getting back to some of our fundamentals and getting back to the right mentality to win games in this league. The way we went about the game was very good.

On conceding a goal in the 89th minute
They didn’t do much most of the night. But (Claudio Beiler) did what forwards do. They find a chance and do well with it. Obviously we’re extremely disappointed. I’m disappointed we didn’t come away with something.

On his team’s approach to the game

We talk about earning the right to play soccer. If you battle and win second balls in this league, you’re ultimately going to have more possession. We’re not good enough to start from (goalkeeper) Bill (Hamid) and build out of the back and play like the best team in the world. We’ve got to earn the right to play, and today we did that. It’s not easy to come in here and play well, but this was our best effort to date. Unfortunately we didn’t get anything out of it.

D.C. UNITED DEFENDER DEJAN JAKOVIC

On D.C. United’s 1-0 loss to Sporting KC
It was a heartbreaking loss. I thought there were stretches where we played really well and moved the ball. We created a really good chance in the first half and should have been ahead. This one definitely stings.

On conceding a goal in the 89th minute
It’s frustrating. We played well defensively and were compact, and they never really broke us down. They tried long balls and playing it short. For a long time we were in great shape, so it’s really tough. Everyone played their guts out – I don’t know what else to say. It’s a tough one to swallow.

D.C. UNITED MIDFIELDER CHRIS PONTIUS

On D.C. United’s 1-0 loss to Sporting KC
We followed our game plan pretty well. Unfortunately it comes down to one play that they made and we didn’t. It sucks because we should have come out of here with more.

On D.C. United’s strengths throughout the match
We moved the ball very well. I thought we got into some good spots. Offensively, I’d still like to see us get more. Listen, Kansas City is a tough place to play, so I was generally happy with how things went. But I’d like to see us test the keeper a little bit more.

On how D.C. managed to limit Sporting KC’s chances in the match
We knew the guys that were going to be (important) for them. As a team, collectively we were on the same page. If someone messed up, someone else covered. We followed that to a T tonight. We’ll need to take that from this game and move forward, and obviously eliminate the mistakes that cost us.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY HEAD COACH PETER VERMES

General thoughts on the match
I thought D.C. was pretty compact throughout the course of the game. They just tried to stay in their half and keep a couple good lines. They had basically the back four and two in front, and they really matched those guys up with our two attacking midfielders. I thought they did a good job tactically in regards to keeping it compact and clouding the middle of the field. It really broke the rhythm of the game. There really wasn’t much in the first half. At halftime, we talked a little bit about ball circulation and making sure they move the ball a little bit quicker. We needed to play more balls into Claudio (Bieler) direct which would break a lot of their lines quickly. Then we could get some chances off to him. I thought we started doing a pretty good job of that. We also talked that we would get some good opportunities wide. At some point, Seth (Sinovic) had a great ball that he came in and hit the ball wide with his right foot. Then when Soony (Saad) was going in, I told him I thought he’d score a goal. I didn’t know he’d get an assist. But he did a great job down in the corner there. That was the whole thing. We thought in the wide channels we’d find some more opportunities because as the game was going to go on they would get tired and would start to cover more of the goal than the wide channels. I thought Soony (Saad) did a great job with a good ball in and Claudio (Bieler) had a great finish. At the end of the day, it’s a good three points. I think a year ago we probably would have tied this game. This year, we win this game. That’s a good step in the right direction.

On D.C. United’s tactics
They did what they wanted to do- at least for 90 minutes. They wanted to really disrupt us in the middle of the park and try to take away the rhythm that we get as we play especially as we go forward and then if they have numbers back we can kind of possess the ball in their attacking third. They took that away. They did a good job. They really clogged that middle. As I said, I think in the first half where we were slow was we weren’t circulating the ball fast enough to take advantage of the opportunities that were presenting themselves. If you’re on one side and you bring the ball back, now you can play in. We were going so slow that they were able to cover and we couldn’t play in. In the second half, we were much better at that. I think that’s why you saw us getting in behind them a little bit more in the second half than we did in the first. Give credit to the guys. It’s hard to play these types of games where teams do that because you’re constantly looking for solutions to break that down. When it’s through the run of play, those opportunities kind of present themselves because they’re stretched out, you win the ball, you’re going against them and there’s space for you to run in. In their situation, every time they lost it they dropped back right away.

On Jimmy Nielsen
I say it all the time; I think he truly is the best goalkeeper in the league. He’s always connected to the game. It’s hard to do that for 90 minutes as a goalkeeper because it’s not like he gets a lot of shots. So all of a sudden, the 70th minute and boom you have to be on. That’s where he is excellent. The other is that a lot of goalkeepers when somebody is coming at them, they almost start to shrink a little bit. Jimmy (Nielsen) gets bigger. I think he really makes guys have to be fine with their accuracy which a lot of times make them hit it wrong or miss it wide. He’s got some interesting qualities like that that I think a lot of keepers don’t have. He’s a great leader for the team.

On the club’s shutout streak
It’s only good that we don’t give up goals. That’s the great thing. I care less about the streaks. It’s great when you don’t give up goals. I say it all the time, if you don’t give up goals, you not only get results but I think you set yourself up as time goes on to be able to win the important games because you’re not giving the easy chances away. It’s a big part of this. Defense wins championships. There’s no doubt about it. You have to be able to defend.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY FORWARD SOONY SAAD

On assisting the game-winning goal
I just knew that all game we were trying to score and get the lead and break them down. When I came on I felt like my job was to make a difference whether that was taking shots or trying to set up people and we had some good pressure in the corner. We’ve been working on high pressing and I read a back pass, went through and played Claudio (Bieler) at the top and we were just happy we scored and we definitely did a good job of bunkering down and preserving the lead.

On his favorite part of the play
I think my favorite part of the play was Claudio (Bieler) hitting in the back of the net. Just watching it hit the back of the net and the stadium going crazy.

On coming in as a substitute and making a difference This is my third year in the league and I feel like as I have gotten older I have realized my role. Right now my role is to come in and make an impact any way I can whether it’s defending a lead or trying to score a couple goals to get ahead. I just know to stay positive the whole time and I’m going to get some breaks here and there, and I got one today.

On the tactical instructions given to him before he went in the game
Just to get forward and shoot. I know coach tells me to shoot all the time and I didn’t do it today, but I did the next best thing.

On learning to play with Claudio Bieler
As time goes by we start learning the places where he likes to hangout at and how he plays. I realize as soon as you take it to the line, he’s at the top of the box because all the defenders are rushing in. He did that in preseason and I had an assist there and I did that today because I knew he was going to be there. But other than that it’s good to watch him finish and it’s good to know that you have a finisher on the team that can always put a ball like that and that’s something that I will strive to be and I know that I’m going to learn a lot from him.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY DEFENDER AURELIEN COLLIN

On the defense not conceding a goal in 429 minutes
It’s a great picture of the team. We keep going to same way as last year. Have a few new players up top but we have the same mentality and work ethic.

On the team chemistry
We know each other and you can see it on the field. Everyone is on the same page. We are great defensively and we have a good technique.

On the difference between this year’s defense and last year’s
We have more experience and we make fewer mistakes now. We are an older team now. There is a big difference this year.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY GOALKEEPER JIMMY NIELSEN

On not conceding a goal in four matches Someone will score on me eventually! We are very solid defensively and the guys in front of me make my life so easy. When I don’t have anything to do, it doesn’t bother me. It knows we are doing our job well.

General thoughts on the match
It wasn’t a pretty game but it was the result we needed. We deserved that goal and the fans deserved that goal in the end.

On blocking Marcelo Saragosa’s bicycle kick
I think I made it look a little more difficult than it actually was. I had no other choice.

On the upcoming bye week
We have to prepare ourselves for two tough road games against New York and LA. It’s going to be a big challenge for us but we will go to New York with a lot of confidence. We have to enjoy the moment now and enjoy two days off but we need to get back on Monday and watch the game tonight and prepare for two tough games.

On the energy of Sporting Park
It’s unbelievable. We feed off of it. The fans deserve all the credit. They are the key to encouraging us and they keep cheering until the very end of the game. I think the team, the fans got what they deserved tonight.

On Claudio Bieler
He’s a very smart player. Time after time he’s shown how smart he is at finishing. He’s a solid goal-scorer and it’s very important to have a guy like him on the team.