Quote Sheet | Klopas, Kamara Following Regular Season Finale vs. NYCFC


CHICAGO (Oct. 21, 2023) - Chicago Fire FC fell to NYCFC, 1-0 on Oct. 21, 2023 at Citi Field. Following the loss, Head Coach Frank Klopas and forward Kei Kamara spoke to the media to discuss the match.

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Frank Klopas

On his emotions after the game…
“It's a lot of different emotions. You know, I mean, one is that we were so close, and I just know the great people that are around this Club and it starts from our owner and what we put in every day. So you know, I mean, we wanted to give everyone something to really be positive. You know, because we've gotten so close right now but then we have to look, how do we take that next step, and really in this off-season look really hard and make the right decision, so next year it doesn't come down to this last day. That's the thing when it comes down to this last day, anything can happen. They hit one shot. It's the goal of the year maybe for them. And then, you know, we create enough chances but it just doesn't go in tonight and we don't want to be put in that situation. Some emotions towards that. Obviously the disappointment of not going forward for the Club, for everyone that's put so much into it and then look, obviously you build relationships with these guys throughout the year.

We spend more time almost than with our family and we come together, the sport brings us together to do something we all love and we put a lot of time into it. You build relationships that, you know, last a lot longer than careers and stuff and that's the thing, it's always sad because you know that this group of guys will never be together again. There's going to be changes. That's the sad part, you know, because it's the emotional part of it all.

So a lot of different emotions but obviously I'm extremely proud of the effort that they put in tonight and like I said, we were right there and we got to make decisions now, how do we take the next step so it doesn't come down to the last game again.”

On how he feels at the end of this year understanding that he might be in a different role next season…
“Yeah, look, I stepped into it, it's not something I wanted to, but when I stepped in, I was 100 percent in, committed, myself and all my staff. I'm very blessed to have had really great people to work with because my success are the people that I have. We put a lot into it. I enjoy being on the field. I enjoy doing this, being that I'm trying to lead this team and help the Club get back or be a team that's consistently our goal is being a team that's there trying to win championships every year and that's where we have to get to.

I think we are close. But now like I said, I think that for me, how do we take the next step. So I really enjoyed it. I think we have to assess and see how we move forward and even for myself, and there's a lot of question marks that need to be answered. I'm not leaving the Club, you know. I think we have an incredible owner in Joe [Mansueto]. I love Joe. He's a model to all of us. Just the person that he is, his humility, his humbleness, his integrity and just a guy with great values to be here to support us all the time. Everybody wants to go the extra mile for him and our great fans, and we're there.

So we'll see what the future holds. But I really enjoy being on the field and working with the guys, especially because I have really great colleagues with me.”

On the optimism around the Club and the six years since the last playoff appearance…
“Look, if you evaluate the whole season, even when I took over, I think we can look at it and say one more win. That's what we all said. But I think a lot of clubs can say that. But I have to really assess now and reflect on the moments when we had that, we won all those games to put ourselves in a great spot, we had that break, how do we continue, why did we lose that momentum. I know we had some injuries but how do we make ourselves stronger or better in the off-season?

I think we really have to take a hard look and evaluate that. I felt we were really close and it just shows you that we put ourselves in a great spot. We put ourselves, we created with all the hard work and dedication when no one believed in us. Everyone had written us off but we believed. We believed. We had faith. We never lost the faith, myself, our sporting director, our technical director, definitely not our owner, we believe. When everyone else had written us off, we pushed through. We came to work every day. We had high standards and we pushed ourselves. I pushed everyone. They had to come out with the right mentality and attitude.

For me, we are right there. I think there's been incredible changes to the club, changes that were needed to put ourselves in the stage where all the other teams are, especially now next year with the performance center. And now we just have to look at the roster and see how do we improve. There's no secret, we need to get better.”

On whether he is proud of what he’s done with the Club over the last year…
“I'm proud to have had an opportunity again to lead the Club. I put a lot into it, you know, and I expect a lot from everyone. When I talk to the guys in there, the emotions today, I had the opportunity to get back and work with Zach [Thornton] and C.J. [Brown], two guys that I know that have been involved with the Club in every championship they had. We were together when we won the double. I know what it means to those guys, myself, to come and work hard every day.

And then, you know, the rest of the staff that we had, I had the opportunity when I stepped in to bring Niko Kostenoglou from Greece who is a top-level coach, and also Theodore Antonopolous to do the analysis and stuff. So I had great people to work with. I'm proud of the work we did. Obviously, you know, it's easy to say that because I would have been prouder if we had have gotten in the playoffs and would have gotten a result tonight.

But we're right there. I always say one thing, ‘you can never cheat this game’. I think we have taken great steps forward. We have to analyze the situation and say, how do we take the next step and that's all. I'm extremely proud and extremely proud of the work we did and extremely proud to be involved with this Club and to put the Fire logo on every day.

I love the city, I love our fans, and I want more than anything for us to give the fans and our owners something to cheer about. Like he always used to tell me, and he's still telling me tonight, ‘We're getting close. We'll get there.’ I think we have taken the right step but it would have been great if we would’ve won today and just say, ‘Joe, we are not there but at least we are in the playoffs, we've gotten in.’

That's the team that we want to be. Our mission, our goal, is to win championships. But it starts by building a strong team that every year doesn't come down to the last game where we have to get in. We need to be in the playoffs and fighting for championships.

But just to answer all this talk because a lot of things are going on in my mind, I'm extremely proud of the work we did and to be involved with this Club, that's for sure.”

Chicago Fire FC Forward Kei Kamara

On his thoughts on the game…
“Yeah, it's Decision Day, you know. You don't want to be in the position of hoping this happened, and hope this happened, and hope this happened. You want to be in control of your own destiny somehow when you come to this last part of the season and, now, unfortunately for us today it didn't work out how we wanted it to go.

But that's the nature of the sport. You know, go back and build again and build stronger and stronger. Always try to be better than the year before. So for me, personally, yes, I feel disappointed because we want to play in the playoffs. Because hearing in the history of this club not being in the playoffs for a little while, you want to be part of that history to change that history, so that's unfortunate.”

On his contract and whether he has thought about next season…
“Yes, I've thought about it. What I've thought about that is, I'm going to play another season in the MLS. I'm not done yet, definitely. I think this is my last game for the club, so I'll be moving on. I'll play another season. I've enjoyed myself and representing this club and the things that we achieved this year playing with some of these younger players, Javi [Casas Jr.], Guti [Brian Gutiérrez], Missa [Missael Rodríguez], and all these guys around here, it's been amazing for me and something I'm going to hold dearly to my heart.

Yes, it was great for me to come here and say I played for an historic club of the Chicago Fire, but next year I'll be back in MLS.”

On his experience in Chicago, coming to the team a little late but instantly being the veteran who was in training every day…
“No, that's perfect, you said that, really being there at training every day, because that's my career there. And if I feel like I start taking days off, that's the end of my career. The fact that I still have energy to be there to push the guys around me, when they see me, being the vet, the oldest guy on the team and if they see me there every day, they have to check themselves and what they are doing.

Like I said, it's been a really great experience for me to come here and be part of this. It's never easy with a change of coaches when that happens. It was really super early in the year for us to change to the new. But when we did, we had a good spell, too. We had a few games under our belt that was going well but it’s ups and downs in the season.

Again, I really, really wish and hope because you know with the ownership of this club, the division is amazing and the training center that's coming up. So you can see where the club wants to get to, is really up there. So you hope the people that's around, it's going to have that same foundation and continue to push it.”

On whether the goal-scoring record will drive him through the off-season…
“I'm coming back next year. That's what it is. Definitely I enjoy scoring goals all the time but I think if you guys have seen me around, the thing that means so much to me right now is what impact I give to the guys around me, how I push, whether it's the next striker, whether it’s the younger guys, to challenge them and what's going to push me to say, it's not done yet.”