It wasn't enough to snap the club's 26 game winless streak on the road but the Fire's 1-1 draw in Orlando on Friday night was a welcome result after an opening weekend loss at home. Once again, the team showed some of the adaptability that Veljko Paunovic has been preaching since taking over the coaching duties this year. After a 31st minute red card was shown to Michael Harrington, the Fire played a man short for the remainder of the match and played well enough to steal all three points even if Orlando did hold the ball for a majority of the match.
During his weekly media conference call Paunovic looked back at the result in Orlando and ahead to a rivalry match at home this coming weekend against the Columbus Crew, who lost at home to Philadelphia 2-0.
Here's the recap:
On the result in Orlando and a confidence boost
"It's very important for us, that we played this game. It allowed us to improve not only our confidence but our morale. We are a very tough team to beat and a team that knows how to play with one man down. That's very helpful. I think that we are growing as a team, and that experience in that game against Orlando helped us deal with that next step, which is teamwork, working all together, and understanding that we can be successful in that."
On his first point as coach of the Fire
"I was very excited after the game. I celebrated, to be honest, as a victory because it's very important for us to get that confidence scoring points especially in a game like that. I think the tie is a good result, but I had hope that we could even win that game. That's what I said to the players in the locker room at half time. Keep playing like we played so far and stick to our plan and we could even have that chance. Be ready to score the goal when we have that opportunity during the second half. We were close."
On where the team needs to improve
"I still think we have to improve defensively, even if we were better against Orlando, we still have to improve. We have to improve in scoring our chances because we still create a lot of chances, it's great, but still now we have to score those goals. It's very important in order to win. If you don't concede chances and goals and on the other side you create chances and then you score, obviously you're going to win more games. We have to improve, but still I'm very, very happy and proud of our guys and how they're improving so far. It's a new team, new staff, everything is new and we are progressing very, very well so far."
"We have three areas to improve. Defensively, we can't give up many opportunities like we did in the last game. It was better than the first game. We have to get better. We created a lot of opportunities, we have to be better there to finish chances that we have. That was the second aspect. The third aspect is control of the game in relation to possession. The possession was difficult in the last game but we have to be better in control of the game with the ball."
"For me, possession is a very important part of the game. Always when it's possible, we would like to have the possession. In this game, it was very difficult. With one man down it's never easy to take over the possession. We have that mindset that it's very important for us and we have to work on that and improve. This is what we were doing today in (training)."
On adaptability and formations
"I think we adapted. There were a couple of adjustments after the red card. We went from 3-5-2 to 4-4-1. We were able to stop them. After that we didn't concede many opportunities to Orlando, which is very good. In the second half, we had some issues in midfield where we had to adjust also to them changing the formation. From three (in back) to 5-3-1 in the last ten minutes, especially when Rodrigo (Ramos) came to the field, we adjusted to the formation. The adaptability of our team is great. So far we are doing very good with switching from one system to another. The players are coming in and coming out and they know how to adjust and adapt very intelligent(ly). We are very happy, and I'm sure in games to come we are going to improve that and there are going to be more for us in that style of adaptability."
On Matt Lampson's play and Sean Jonson getting a start
"I think, like we said before the first game against New York, everyone has to earn it. The performance Matt had in the game against Orlando was from the point of view that we didn't concede more than one goal, was better. He was better with his feet, which we demand from our goalkeeper. The opportunity to win the spot is in every possession and in every training, and every week. This is the same situation for every player, not only for Matt, not only for Sean or others."
On the Columbus game
"We want to win coming back home against Columbus, a great team that had a great year last season. We know it won't be easy but we always will put the same attitude into every game, no matter who we're playing. We want to win the game."
"In our methodology, we not only work on what we have to improve but also to find a way to stop the key points that the opponent may have. In this case, we will prepare for their individual and the collective strengths that they have. We will work on that."
"For us, every opponent is a great opponent. We never underestimate or overestimate anyone. We always play our games to win and we always give our best. This is the same for the next game."
On the right back position versus the Crew
"We have Rodrigo (Ramos), who is capable of playing that position. We have to see how many games Michael (Harrington) will get. We don't know at this point because we just finished the session. I don't have any information. We have to see that so that we can evaluate the situation for the next couple of weeks. There is Rodrigo. I believe that Mikey Stephens can play in that position. We have to try and see how he performs there in the next sessions this week. Maybe someone else. Eric Gehrig, if he were good to go would be one of them but I don't think he is ready for the next game yet."
"Kappelhof is doing very good. I think he understands much better how the MLS is a very demanding league. He is adjusting to that and he is still in that process but I am very happy with his improvement and how he played at right back. He can be also an answer to the question. We may play with him in that position. We know that he can do that because when we scouted him last year, he played a lot of game in Groningen as a right back (and) as a midfielder. That's the value that he is and that's very important for the team."
On Gilberto's status
"Hopefully he is progressing very well. Today he did one part with the team and the other part with the trainers. There is so far no swelling and no issues but we have to be very careful and cautious with him. He is important so we have to be very careful about it before we are ready to put him in and play with the rest of the team."
On John Goossens' regular season debut
"I think he did well, first and always for the team. His pass to Accam was great. I believe that they know each other even if they've played just one month together. The talents they have are very important for the team so they connected very well on that play. I'm very happy with his performance knowing that he went in one week from one time zone to another two times which is always very difficult for the body. He did very well. At the end he was a little bit tired. In the second half there was a time that I wanted to change him before but he came back and started to play very good, if you remember that play with Kappelhof. He still had some freshness in him and we waited until he said that he was out of strength and then decided to change him. We're hoping for the next game he's going to be completely recovered. Like everyone else, he has to earn it and do well in the session to come this week."
On 4 out of the next 5 games at home
"It's important. I will tell you honestly we go from one game to another, for us the next game is the most important game. We always have that big picture of the coming games but we want to concentrate and focus on the next game. It's important for us. I think that we are a team that can win either at home or either or on the road. This is how we prepare. This is my belief and how I think we should think about it."
On Lampson playing his former team
"I think it depends on how you manage that emotion that you may have in a game against the former clubs. I'm sure that he has a lot friends there. First, we are professionals and if you manage those emotions in the right way it can be very helpful for you and the team. It can motivate in the best possible way in order to perform well for our team. I will tell you, in my career, almost every time I played against my former team I scored goals. For me, it was very motivational but we have to manage it. It's important to talk."
On Harrington's red card
"I saw the replay but our thought always is that publicly we never talk about the referee's decision. We just move on.