CHICAGO (May 31, 2023) - Chicago Fire FC earned a point on the road against Toronto FC on Saturday night. Following the draw, Head Coach Frank Klopas and veteran striker Kei Kamara spoke to the media following the match.
Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Frank Klopas
On the quick turnaround from the game against Toronto to the match on Saturday against FC Cincinnati…
“Yeah, I think the important thing, we've played a lot of games, especially with the Open Cup, and I think we just have to assess how the players will be. It's a really quick turnaround and then we have to make some decisions, prepare, again do a lot of work on the video and come up with a really good game plan and be really clear with everyone. But I think right now it’s just, recovery, that's the only thing in our mind, and it's starting right now after the game. We'll assess, we have a couple days, how everyone is feeling and make some decisions for the game.
But we have a lot of guys that have logged a lot of minutes, and it's normal, they are playing with, you know, certain things that they are not a hundred percent, which is probably the case for almost a lot of teams that we play right now. But we have logged a lot of games and we have to assess the next couple days how everyone is feeling.”
On the outcome of the game, which never picked up much momentum…
“Yeah, I think the outcome, I'll start with that, I think the outcome is always positive when you're on the road, the amount of games that we played and then you get a point, that's always a positive, and a clean sheet.
I think when you watch the game, I felt both teams looked heavy-legged, so there were a lot of turnovers that probably would not have happened if we were -- I think from both sides but I'm just going to speak about our team. I think that we probably had turnovers with the ball that we normally don't make and that's probably because the players, they are carrying a lot of minutes. They are heavy-legged and sometimes things like that do happen.
But you know, I think the effort was great again. I think our sharpness wasn't there in certain moments where we had some good breaks and we got in some good spots. But listen, we continued to play until the end. Clean sheet, we take a point, and so those are positives, and we continue to grow step-by-step. Can't change things overnight, so step-by-step. But all these points are positive, a clean sheet, getting a point. I look at that as a positive outcome. We wanted the three, we wanted to push in the right away in certain moments to try to get the three, but also learn from the past that managing the game was very important and always walking away with points.”
On the status of Chris Brady and whether Mauricio Pineda will be available for the match against FC Cincinnati…
“Yeah, well, okay, Mauricio, I don't think he'll be ready for Cincy, but I keep my fingers crossed. I think we might have him for the Open Cup match. That's a positive.
The question with Chris Brady, he got hit in the head. He's not on any concussion protocol, but he needed to get 14 stitches, so you know, I told him that he's a good-looking guy, maybe it's going to make him better looking, I don't know how he looks at it. But he got 14 stitches, but no concussion protocol with him.
Yeah, we're probably dealing with stuff that every other team is dealing with at the moment. I'm hoping that maybe we'll get a couple guys back soon. That should help. But it is what it is. You know, we rely on the whole team and we've talked about this from day one; that everybody has got to be ready because it's a long season and injuries will happen with the amount of games. There's nothing that we can do. We just have to hope that some guys will come back, evaluate tomorrow, and get ready for the game Saturday.”
On Spencer Richey’s performance…
“I have a hundred percent confidence in Spencer. He's an experienced goalkeeper and he can step in. He's proven that. You've seen that in the big Cup matches that he's played. He's experienced.
I think it's not an easy position because I think there's so much with timing and so when you play games, I think your sharpness, your timing, is much better, so him having an opportunity to come in, in a difficult spot due to an injury, came in, I felt he did a great job, and I think these are important minutes for him, whether it's for the game Saturday or for the Open Cup match. I think this will only keep him sharper.”
Chicago Fire FC Forward Kei Kamara
On the outcome of the match and getting a draw in a game that never seemed to gain momentum…
“Yeah, never seemed to have momentum going, I think that's the way to put it. We didn't click as well today. We knew after the first half that it was kind of sloppy from our end but we kept them at 0-0. It's a good thing when we don't play our football or our soccer and still be able to keep it at zeros.
So going into the second half, obviously we wanted to make it better but it was still just not really the most attractive game today.”
On how the players recover with such a quick turnaround from the game in Toronto to the game in Cincinnati…
“Yeah, recovery already started. Actually before we walked in, a few guys were already outside doing more runs, that didn't get many minutes today. Coming in, we got the ice tubs and everything going into it.
But you know, mentally, it was good, the fact that we were still able to come out of here with a point, and being on the road, we knew it wasn't going to be easy but the fact that we are able to come out of here with a point, that's positive. So mentally, we are in the positives and going into Cincinnati, they’re on a roll. We have to go in there and respect them but at the same time we have to make sure that we put our stamp into the game.”
On his perspective of playing in a slightly different system as a No. 9…
“A little bit system, obviously, yeah. Different coaching style, more tactics. But yeah, I mean, as a nine, for myself, I'm looking to be involved in the game, be involved in the play. Hopefully with that system, we have wing backs that will have more time with the ball.
Obviously, I pride my game in being in the box and getting crosses. I had a couple goals from good crosses from (Arnaud) Souquet, so would love for him to be able to get back a little bit higher so he can put some crosses in. But it's a system that we'll get used to. Obviously it's just a couple games. Don't know if we'll continue to do it. But whatever it is, I'm sure we'll master it and be ready to continue to play it.”
On his thoughts on the team’s mentality around their upcoming Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match versus Houston Dynamo on June 6…
“Yeah, I'm not going to skip that many games ahead to the Open Cup, seriously, because we never know what's going to happen after our next game, player-wise, who is available, who is not available.”