Quotes from SKCvLA: “It was very important to us today. It was huge.”

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Sporting Kansas City (17-7-7, 58 points) won a home playoff game in the first round of the 2021 Audi MLS Cup playoffs in an emphatic fashion, earning a 2-0 home victory over Conference rival West LA Galaxy (13-12-7, 46 points) Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park. Remarks from the post-match press conference are below.

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes

On the scale of the victory …

We have three games to play, but I’ve always said games in hand mean nothing if you don’t win them. It’s the first of four games and it was important for us to have them at home. Now we go on the road to a tough game in Minnesota. It’s a very good team and it’s always a tough game. It was very important for us today. It was huge. LA is a very good team. When we come into this area at the end of the season and face LA who want to make the playoffs, a team that made a big change, their coach is different, their staff is different, they made a lot of changes in players and they are an organized team. It’s a tough game for us. Then you take the weather and something can happen in the game. Someone might slip or something happens to a guy and the next thing you know, it goes wrong. For our guys to start the way we did, which was one of our big priorities, to score in the first half, to score in the second half and to keep a clean sheet against a team like this, that was big for us, really big.

In the form of Johnny Russell …

This is what I saw looking at him to bring him here. With the way we play, it’s always important to have wingers who try to isolate themselves. If they can, with the way we play, you’ve got to have guys who can break people down and he can do it. He was a monster tonight. Johnny has this factor. He appears in great moments. He’s mentally tough. He gives everything he has all the time. When he’s done that sliding tackle with his knees to block the ball going out of bounds, he’s doing whatever he can to win. He just has a great mentality. It’s contagious to the rest of the guys on the squad and that’s one of the main reasons he’s the captain.

On Johnny Russell’s goal streak …

There are a handful of players on this team who are big time guys and they show up in all big moments. This is what we need from them. One of the big challenges of last year was when we got to this point in the season, we just weren’t healthy enough. Now we are starting to find our shape a bit that helps us. Slowly but surely, we will get some guys back and that will help us. When a guy comes forward like he does, it’s huge for the team.

On the performance of John Pulskamp …

He made two superb saves: one in the first half, one in the second half late. He was really good with the ball. I’m not saying that because I don’t think he’s not good with the ball. He was a lot more composed than I expected for this type of game. He got into a situation that wasn’t easy at all and he was great with his feet. We had a little chat yesterday about a few small situations and he made the right decision every time which was great. I give it a lot of credit. It’s not easy to have a clean sheet, especially at this time of year. For him to do this at his age in this situation was huge. Hats off to him for sure.


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