Head Coach Caleb Porter
A lot to dissect obviously in the match. Let’s start with the beginning of the game. We didn’t start the game the right way, it’s that simple. We pride ourselves in this Club and as a team, of starting matches strong and aggressive and we didn’t do that. For the most part this year we have done that, but I think sometimes human nature kind of kicks in and we need to learn from that. I think every game is an opportunity to grow from and learn from and that’s definitely an area that we’re going to learn from and no matter what you think or say before a match, until you get punched in the nose because you let your guard down, you’re probably never really going to learn that lesson. It was the first time this year that we were just flat for whatever reason.
I thought the second thing is, outside of those first 20 minutes, I thought we battered them. I had a really good feeling at half time, based on what I saw in the last 20 to 25 minutes of the first half, that we could come back in the game and I told those guys that, that if I was a betting man that we were going to get the next goal, get the second goal and that we might get the third [goal], and that was exactly what I told the group. I don’t say that very often, for obvious reasons, but I just had a feeling with the way that last 25 minutes went a little bit. I thought they [Chicago] got passive … I thought they looked like they were trying to play not to lose because they have not been getting results and because we’re a team that refuses to lose.. We’re a team that is going to go down swinging and throw the kitchen sink. I just had a lot of belief in my team that we could come from behind and I told them that.
As mad as I was about the first 20 minutes, I chose to treat them like men and talk about what we could do in that second half and what we’re capable of, and I thought the group was outstanding. They responded, and it’s not easy to come from behind down two goals on the road, so I think that’s the second learning lesson: we can come from behind if we need to. We don’t want to; we prefer to start the game strong and get the first goal … but also if we have to come from behind by throwing the kitchen sink and being direct and clawing and scrapping and grinding and doing all the dirty little things that we need to come back, we can do that. This team I think showed that type of mentality. Our veterans stepped up in the second half; that’s what you need. The back line kept the [second half] clean sheet and I’m confident in our attacking group of guys like Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos. I think the third thing is, for us to come from behind down two-zero and get the point on the road without two of our best attacking players, I think is a real credit again to our team. We never talked about that, we never made excuses about that. We showed a lot of belief in the team that started the game and I think the guys showed belief in what we’re doing. If you look at our six games – that small group of games after the restart from Orlando – we’ve taken 11 points in those six games, so we’re not satisfied with a draw today, but we’ll take the point especially under the circumstances and kind of slowly but surely, we’ve added up another 11 points in these six games so I’m pleased overall with that chunk of games with this group.
On coming back from being down two goals in the first half
I think it’s just human nature like I said. A lot of times we tell you, ‘touch the stove and you’ll get burned,’ so you get casual, you get complacent. We’ve been winning games. We’ve not given up goals. We see a team – as much as we’ve talked about it -- that’s a lot better than their standing. They group knew [Chicago Fire] were a good attacking team, but for whatever reason I think [the Black & Gold] weren’t quite ready for the race. That’s something we talk about a lot, it’s something we don’t like if we don’t start strong, but also I’ve been around long enough to know sometimes it just happens. I think it now allows us to really have the attention of everybody. We have a reference point now to say, ‘listen, we’re playing this team and yeah they’re not maybe as good as you think on the table, but they’re capable still, in MLS every team is.’ We say all these things every game and I think now they know, now they see what can happen. So, we’ll be better from that 20 minutes and these are lessons you need to learn along the way: you absolutely need to learn them. The other lesson we learned is we can come from behind and find a way, even on the road down two goals, to grind out a point.
On Gyasi Zardes scoring in key quantities and key moments in this short season
It’s massive. The way you set your team up - your 9, your 10, your wingers -- have to produce the lion’s share goals and you expect your nine to score more than anyone and your 10. Lucas [Zelarayan] has been scoring, but obviously with him out, Gyasi’s going to have to be the guy that scores, occasionally a winger, so it was really important that he was able to chip-in today and he’s on a very good path right now so I’ll continue to stay out of his way and let him keep bagging goals.
On playing alongside Fatai Alashe at midfield the past two games
A little different. He just came to the team with us and we are still learning about each other, but he’s a good player and he’s good at winning balls so he can help with moving and on set pieces, he’s good. It’s different, every player is different but on the field we’ve got to adapt fast because it is a short season and we’re trying to play at a high level so we just have to adapt and play for the team and do the best for the team.
On reacting to Chicago Fire FC’s second goal
Usually we don’t start the game like that and for us, I think we didn’t start the game with the right mentality and everybody was surprised with the first goal and then the second [goal] right away. My feeling, with the group inside the field, I felt everybody felt it and it was hurting us and we don’t like when we have those feelings so we just had thoughts to come back and everybody was together and was sure that we could come back. So, it was just one thing that we needed to learn and don’t let it happen again. It already happened one time away and we’ve got to learn from it. I think our group, everybody is together and keeps working to not let that happen again.
Forward Gyasi Zardes
On both goals scored against Chicago Fire FC
On the first goal, I decided to switch up my run and catch my opponent by surprise, so I ran near-post and I just tried to put it on frame and sure enough, Fatai [Alashe] was there to just knock it in the goal. For the second goal, Youness [Mokhtar] was driving at the back line and he tried to play a through-ball and sure enough, it hit the back of my thigh and I already knew where the goal was, so I just had to take a touch and a quick shot and I caught the goalkeeper off guard, so that was the second goal.
On the motivation at halftime to be able to grind out the final result
Extremely motivating for our coach to treat us like men because it allows us to see that he has faith in us. We know we’re going to get the job done in the second half, especially based on the last 25 minutes of the first half. So all the players knew we’d be calm and collected and we knew as soon as the second half started, we were going to be all over Chicago Fire and that obviously starts in the locker room with the coach, and it carries on to the field with the players.