Chicago Fire FC took away all three points from Wednesday night's road trip to FC Cincinnati, courtesy of a first-half brace from forward Robert Berić and a pair of memorable second half strikes from midfielders Álvaro Medrán and Luka Stojanović. Hear what interim head coach Frank Klopas, Medrán, and Stojanović had to say about the result following the wild 4-3 finish with the postmatch quote sheet below:
Chicago Fire FC Interim Head Coach Frank Klopas
On the emotions after a game like that, with so much back and forth capped off by a golazo to win...
“It was a golazo. Yeah, no, I mean, it's like a roller coaster, right? I mean we got to the early lead and 2-0, I mean, I think we dropped off a little bit and we let them back into the game. But I think we came out the second half, we made some adjustments and the team played really well. We moved the ball extremely well. We made good decisions. We could have been a little bit more dangerous in the final third and decisive to finish the action.
But I thought we played a very good second half. We took the lead and obviously you equalize. Look, as coaches and with the staff we talked about it, you make certain changes to push the game and a guy like Luka comes in, he's got that quality and it's just a great feeling, a lot of emotions. But extremely proud of the group, regardless even if we would have stayed at 3-3, the way that they played, the way they competed, the mentality, just the attitude I think was great.
And obviously to get the three points, those emotions are sky-high and we hope they never go away but they don't last too long, you know. But it was a great team performance and obviously that's the most important thing. I'm extremely proud of the guys.”
On how it feels to get a victory on the road...
“A win is a win, yeah, but obviously on the road it's difficult. It's not easy in this league to go on the road and win. You look at our record, but you look at other teams’ (record), it's difficult.
I think it helped a lot today, obviously the stadium, the atmosphere was fantastic, the pitch was great. I sensed that from the warm up. When I saw the guys at the warm up and I talked with the staff there, it was one of the sharpest warmups that I've seen, and the guys were excited. They were ready to go.
I mean, you never know sometimes how that's going to go but they came out, I felt, flying, and so look, just to get a win, and I think it's important now, like I told the group, sometimes no one really remembers what we did in the beginning but last impressions really matter. And I think we need to come and compete hard in every game and really leave a good impression for our fans that throughout the season, you know, maybe they haven't had a lot of moments to celebrate. And this is one of those moments and I think it's important that every game we go into, that we leave everything on the field and we leave, you know, a good last image for them and something to look forward to next year.”
On Luka Stojanović’s goal and if he should have played more this season...
“Look, he's a guy that (has) eight goals right now, so he has quality. I think, sometimes, depending on the system that we switched earlier on makes it a little more difficult when we played with 3-5-2. You need three midfielders, really, that cover a lot of ground.I think he's best, at least in my opinion, when you have two players behind him and he plays almost as a number 10 because he has quality. He's really, really smart in getting and finding spaces, and he has a quality like you saw tonight.
When he gets opportunities, he's always been dangerous. So, yeah, you can have an argument about that for sure.”
On the importance of winning in front of fans at Soldier Field on Saturday in the last home match of the season…
“Yeah, I think we talked about it with the players. But it's one game at a time, right. So we have a short turnover right now. RSL didn’t play mid-week but it is what it is. Sometimes it's good to play, we had a very good game. We are coming off a really good performance, and everybody is ready to go and sharp.
Being home in front of our fans, I think definitely the guys want to come out and try to get three points. But more than anything, just compete really hard and make all the fans that come out there really proud of the group, and I think that's in our mind.
You know, look, we've got to do whatever is possible to try to get the three points, and everybody knows that and (is) looking forward to Saturday. Hopefully we can get a really big crowd. I know that it will probably be the biggest of the year. The weather is going to be nice.
So I urge all the Fire fans, soccer fans, to come out and support the team. I know we are going to do our best to make sure that that last game at Soldier Field, at least for this year, it's a memorable one and that they have something to look forward to next year.”
On what it means for the fanbase for players like Stojanović to play well and be involved in the community...
“It's always great to have the fans support you. I think our fans support all the players out there. They expect, obviously, a certain effort in every game, and when you do that, when you put this Fire jersey on and you leave everything on the field, regardless of the outcome or the scores, I think that's the most important thing. They respect that. They respect that you put this jersey on and you represented the Club and the city in the right way and the fans that come up.
So I think Luka has always done that. I think all our players, you know, have a great relationship with the fans, win or lose, we always go out there and try to make sure that, you know, those relationships are strong and solid because at the end of the day without the fans, playing in empty stadiums, we wouldn't have opportunities or jobs without the fans.
So we know how important they are and the players know all that. I think Luka and all the players, they go out of their way to make sure they spend time to get to know the fans and all the events that they are able to go to and attend that are there.”
Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Álvaro Medrán
On the team losing and regaining the lead multiple times in the match…
“Thank you very much, thank you. Well, it reminds you of what the Chicago Fire has and does. It’s something that we know we have trouble closing out games and we make things difficult for ourselves sometimes, where we go up and then go down. And thankfully this time we were able to come back and close it out and come out on top.
But it's something that, you know, it happens. We are up 2-0 and things are comfortable, we have a good game, but then we make things difficult for ourselves.”
On Luka Stojanović’s goal and his impact on the team this season...
“I was really happy. I felt happiness, especially because it was a great goal, a golazo, and it gave us the three points. And Luka, I'm happy for him. He has good luck in front of the goal. He is a good goal scorer. I think sometimes he has to help a little bit more in other ways. Sometimes you see what you see externally but you don't see what's going on internally. So I think sometimes he can help in other ways.
But I'm happy for him and for that goal today and especially because it gave us the victory.”
On his free kick goal in the 71st minute...
“There isn't a whole lot to describe. You can see I'm really, really happy. I was really happy that my friends sent me messages right away. They sent videos in a WhatsApp group that we have and they have been asking me how I felt, and I felt like we could win and I could score. So I was really happy to score that goal. It felt really good. I had really been wanting to score a free kick goal.”
Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Luka Stojanović
On his thought process for his game-winning goal…
“Yes, I think it's (a) very important time for that goal, first of all, and I was ready since the ball go to Chino (Chinonso Offor). I was ready for a rebound, for the second ball and in my mind it was just (a) good first touch and to shoot. That's the way I do a lot on the turn, and today finally one come in from long distance.”
On his feelings when the ball dropped at his feet…
“I was sure it was (a) goal. 100 percent. That's my answer.”
His evaluation of his 2021 season…
“Yeah, I say this, also, maybe three-to-four weeks ago, I think this is the best season of my career. Because (of) the minutes I play and the impact I give to the team, I think this is the best season so far for me because when I have better statistics in the last clubs, I have also much more minutes.
So this is also, like that's why I say this is for sure, and also I feel like I use, also, any time on the pitch I use to show myself to fans, to staff, also to myself and to my family, also. And I don't know exactly how much minutes, but I think it's so far the best season I would say.”
If he feels that he should have played more this season…
“Since we started the season, I (started) some games, and also I start well with the goals and playing well (at the start) of the season.
But yeah, actually, I can say that I think more minutes. The injury, my injured knee, was last year. So I do all the preseason with the team and I come ready for the season, so I do my best.
I will not look back anymore. I am going to finish with that now and just look forward. We have next home game, and I'm so happy that we are going to play in front of, I hope, a lot of our fans in the last game. They have good reason to come now and I invite them to come and to help the team in these three three games to finish and we see what's going to be after that.”
On his relationship with the Fire fans…
“I think they give me a lot of power. First of all, from the crowd, they give me a lot of power on the pitch and I hope I give them back on the pitch and off the pitch. This donation is really amazing what they are doing. I just put myself to help how much I can do, and I think even this goal today, I think, it's come for them and for this other thing you say right now.”