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Chicago Fire FC interim head coach Frank Klopas, forward Ignacio Aliseda, and defender Johan Kappelhof discuss the team's performance in coming from behind twice to pick up a 2-2 draw on the road at New England on Saturday night.

Chicago Fire FC Interim Head Coach Frank Klopas

On Francisco Calvo not traveling with the team...
“Right now, all I can tell you is health and safety protocols. That's about it, what I can tell you right now.”

If Gastón was not on the game day roster due to international duty…
“Yeah, definitely. They (Paraguay) played Thursday night, late. It would have been impossible for him, very difficult, long travel to be here. It would be asking a lot of the player and risking injury for sure.”

On his reaction to how the team played tonight...
“I'm proud of the guys. I think the team, tonight, we went into the game and I talked about the guys being brave; just going out on the field and having the right mentality and attitude and confidence. We knew we were going up against a very good opponent. We've played them in some good games this season and there was a belief.

I wanted them to play with confidence. We had a very good game planned that they executed. I think the beginning of the game was a little bit slow on our part, and I think we grew into the game and we started taking control. But in the end, for me, the important thing is that the team showed a lot of character tonight. Great mentality, great attitude, great belief by everyone. The work rate was there.

But more importantly, it was just the confidence we played (with). We fell behind twice against them and we never gave up. Obviously we made some good changes, I felt, and the guys came in with positive energy.

So it's just a great team performance overall, great point on the road. But I'm just proud of the guys because the belief was there and their mentality and what they put into it, and that's what this team should be all about. If we were like this all season long, I think that we would have been in a different situation now. That's just my belief.”

If he thinks about why the team didn’t play like this more earlier in the season...
“I mean, there were moments where we played well. There were games that, you know, you saw the same kind of mentality. But maybe the chances don’t go in and then you pay the price on the other end. That happens.

We can look back and evaluate, but look, I mean, for me, the important thing today besides, look, the result, and I think a very good performance on the whole, collectively, and as a group. You know, guys that were on the field and guys that didn't get in, I think there was a belief and there was a push from the guys.

It's just the attitude and the mentality. I don't care if you have talent. If you don't have the right mentality and attitude to go on the field and work hard, okay, because sometimes it's not going to be always good with the ball. You have to find other ways to help your team. And I think that there was good moments with the ball, and there was a lot of hard work that everyone put in in order to get this result, and that's what you need.

But there was never a letdown. There was never one guy on the field that didn't leave everything on the field, or, you know, even when went down, you could just sense the confidence and the belief. I always felt like we were going to get back into the game.

So that's why I'm extremely proud of the guys, and we just have to now enjoy this great point on the road and regroup and continue to finish every game with the same mentality and attitude. That's all I ask for, and I think that's all the fans and everyone in the City of Chicago wants from this team, just to leave everything on the field.”

On Ignacio Aliseda’s performance…
“Yeah, I think the injuries have hurt Nacho, in order to get that consistency that you talk about, but you see his quality. You see his quality. He's a guy that's very explosive. He's one guy in the final third that can take guys on and he can create and he can score, but he needs to stay healthy and he needs games.

But I told him tonight after the game, you know, when he plays games like tonight and you score goals like that, that's him. He has it in him. But he needs to be consistent, and he needs to do it all the time in every game. He needs to be a guy that we need to count on because he has that quality.

But now it requires taking care of himself, working hard on the field and really being a guy that every day, he tries to improve and get better. That kind of mentality that you need, you know, it's not a light switch that you say: Well, today I'm going to turn it on, tomorrow, not. You need to have the mentality and the attitude because he has got all the talent in the world. But talent gets you nowhere if you don't have the mentality and attitude. And I'm not saying he doesn't, but he needs to get pushed every day.”

On Stanislav Ivanov’s performance...
“Very good. Very good performance again by Ivanov. I loved it. I loved his performance. He was active. He made great runs. He wasn't scared to take players on. His decision-making was good. He worked hard defensively.

And you could just see, also, he's finding his rhythm with these games. It's not easy when you miss preseason and four months of the season with his knee, and you don't get that sharpness in training. You need games. He's looking sharp. I was happy to see his performance tonight.

But as a whole, collectively as a group, I'm extremely pleased with the group. Don't forget about Gaga, too, what a performance he had.”

On Gabriel Slonina starting in a match against the top team in the league...
“Yeah, he's a young guy. I mean, it's amazing, I don't know if he's 17, right, it's incredible. But you can just see his maturity, and I think he's a guy that Adin Brown, our goalkeeping coach, has done an unbelievable job with him. But he's very grounded.

And also, Bobby, the veteran goalkeeper, who helps him all the time. So I think he has some great mentors, a great coach. And you know, with goalkeepers, look, you're going to make some mistakes but he made some unbelievable saves and you need to learn. You need to play games.

He's so young, it's amazing. Maybe in ten, even 15 years, we'll be talking about him and say, he's hit his prime now (laughs). It's scary how good this kid can be and you know what, he deserves only the best. He's a great kid. He's very grounded, he's very mature, and he's got a tremendous, tremendous upside and I couldn't be prouder.”

Chicago Fire FC Forward Ignacio Aliseda

On the team going toe-to-toe with the number one team in the league…
“Yes, it was a very difficult game. The field was pretty difficult because we are not used to playing on synthetic surface and they have a synthetic surface. So it's a different game when it's synthetic.

But there is a reason they are in first place. They play very well and they have a very dynamic game. They play very direct. Unfortunately we fell behind to begin with but with our tools, we were able to tie them twice, and I think that the game was fair. It was a fair tie. The team played well in general, and there are things that we can improve on, but little by little, we are going to keep improving.”

On why the team didn’t have more of these performances throughout the season…
“Yeah, I think maybe that was missing earlier in the season, but there were a lot of things happening and lately we've had a change in coach and a change of ideas that we are developing on the field. So now we have to adapt a little bit to what Frank wants. I think even though we already knew him and we were kind of already getting used to or adapting better to our previous ideas, and now with a new head coach, we are seeing a new set of ideas develop on the field.

But now we are getting the hang of it. We are adapting on the fly, and always, you know, with the change of coach, you get a new energy, a renewed energy. Even though we already knew him and we already knew Frank, there's still that new energy of things. We readjust, readapt, and everyone wants to be on the field. Everyone wants to be playing. Everyone wants to be out there, and I think that everyone gets a little bit more competitive out on the field with each other because everyone wants to be out there playing. So I think that's something that maybe happened and it's going to be helpful to the team.”

On how he would evaluate his 2021 season...
“Well, first, my 2021 season I think was a little bit better than last season but there were a lot of injuries right when I was getting to my best level. So that made me not get down so much but I did get a little bit down because it felt like every time that I was improving and doing well, I would get injured. For example, I scored twice against Atlanta, and then I got injured again.

So at that point, I did kind of put my head down a little bit and feel like I was starting over. But little by little, I've been improving and things have been improving. So my goal is to play out the rest of the season and to be able to help the team in any way possible. Preferably, help the team with goals and assists, and as a group have victories. It would be great to get victories as a team together.

But personally, I do want to score goals and have assists so that I can help the team and it would be good for next season to begin next season with those things in mind.”

Chicago Fire FC Defender Johan Kappelhof

On the team displaying a gutsy performance…
Yeah, I think it was a great team effort. Everybody gave their all. We worked for each other and we (fought) until the very end, so that's amazing. Also the guys who came in, and the guys on the bench, everybody was supporting. It's a great team victory.”

If the team regrets not having more performances like tonight this season…
There's not really (any) regret. We know that we should have done better. We gave our all but it was not enough at the end of the day. But we still fight till the end, you know, we don't give up. It's a good team spirit and we have quality on the team, and we have to finish the season strong.”

On the games being wide open against New England and if that benefits the Fire…
“Wide open, I don't know exactly what you mean. You know, it's a good team. It's a great team and you have to be very focused. They are good on the counter, so I don't think you should be wide open against them. You should be very compact and be ready for a counter because they have quality up front, and I think that's what we did great today. Everybody was shifting well and coming back when we lose the ball, and be in like a compact organization. I'm proud of the guys today.”

On what the team needs to improve going into 2022 after being officially eliminated from playoff contention with the draw…
“We have a lot of quality with guys that are great on the ball. I think where we can improve is more matureness. You know, in certain moments in the game, (being) more mature, more fight for the result and not always pretty but sometimes you need to be ugly, too, to win games. And if we show (that) a little bit more, I think we'll have more results.”

On the team’s goals for the last four games of the season...
Finish the season strong. Anything can happen in life. We can focus on ourselves, focus on the next four games and give our all and see where we end, and I think that's the most important thing we need to do is finish strong and show pride.”