Veljko Paunovic addressed the Fire's goalkeeping situation, the status of John Goossens visa, the opening loss at home, the upcoming match, and more during his weekly conference call with media. Here's the recap:
On the NYCFC game plan and tactics
"We wanted to play the way that we can win the game. We believed that starting in possession out of the back would give us that opportunity to commit them to step up, in order to pull their defensive line higher to create that (chances) behind. We scored the first goal and had so many chances. I honestly believe we were very successful in that. Not that successful in building out of the back, but every time we achieved that we had those opportunities where we could run into the back and attack their defensive line directly to the goal. That was the plan for that game. In the first half, defensive, and the whole team should have performed better, but also we have to improve our realization of all those chances that we had. We have to score goals."
On the next match against Orlando City
"In the game that we saw in the preseason they had a different set up from the one that we saw in the game against Real Salt Lake. What we expect, playing at home is a more direct team than New York but still playing the same formation as they played in the first game. We will attack them the same as we tried to do against New York. We have to improve our defense. They have very fast guys and strong guys like Larin. Molino and Shea, are guys that we can say now have experience in the league and are very, very dangerous."
On Lampson's performance in goal
"I watched the game several times because I wanted to be sure of everything. Regarding Matt, I think that the team didn't help him. He could do better, everyone could do better than we performed building out of the back. He tried and tried to develop and to play our plan building out of the back and playing with our centerbacks and midfielders. When it wasn't possible he tried to play those long balls to our fullbacks and it didn't work. He tried to do that. We have to understand what he was trying to do and that's obviously my responsibility that he tried to do the plan that we wanted to play against New York. At some point, we also have to understand that sometimes the midfielders, sometimes it was a centerback, sometimes a fullback, they played the ball back to him when it wasn't necessary and we didn't need that. With the weather conditions, like we had with the wind against us, it wasn't the best decision to do. I'm happy with how he worked and his attitude in trying to play the way we planned. That's all that I can say."
Who will start in goal on Friday?
"We still had our first session after the game and we are going to decide. We have time for that. We still didn't decide."
Would it have been more beneficial for Johnson to begin camp with the Fire rather than the USMNT?
"I think that playing for the national team is very important. We are happy that our players are called to the national teams and we will always support that. For sure, it was beneficial for him and beneficial for the national team and for us too, but I wouldn't relate the current situation with Sean to being with the national team the first part of preseason. I think it's just something that we have to deal with. I don't want to make any issue with the current situation. We need Sean. We need Matt. We need Patrick McLain. We need all of our goalkeepers and we need all of the players. What we are doing right now, (is) building our team. Everyone has to earn it and everyone has to improve. Everyone has to work. I put myself in that pool too. All of us have to be on the same page, trying to do our best in every session and every game and improve together and stay together."
On the club's road losing streak
"We see all our games as opportunities for us to win, to perform well, and to be the best we can be. For the next game we will have our game plan. I think we can all agree that in the game against New York City, our team played trying to win by creating opportunities and we fought until the end of the game. That's what we are going to do this time. Hopefully we perform defensively better, and offensively we score the opportunities we create in order to win."
On Gilberto's injury status and Goossens visa
"He has an issue with a strain that happened in the first minute of the game on that great chance that he had. (It affected) the outcome of that opportunity. We are working on him. Hopefully he can recover, but we are not sure yet. There aren't any other issues with injuries. What we are going to prepare for the game, I can't talk about yet but on the good side Goossens is coming back. He got his visa and he is on his flight right now to come back and join us for the next game."
"We will see how he returns from the flight. In a short period of time he has long flights and changing time zones. We will see how he feels and we will try to prepare him to be available for the game. We will decide on Friday if he is ready or not."
On preference for a 3 or 4 man back line
"For us it is very important that we are developing that style that we were preaching during the preseason and before that. We can be adaptable. I think in the games that we played in preseason, the first game we could switch from one system to another. The formation that we played in the second half worked better for us in the game against New York. Defensively especially, but I would say offensively too. It's good to know that we can use that formation too, and that system of play and we still have our basic, standard system, which is 4-2-3-1. Depending on the availability of our players for this game and the plan that we are going to develop in the next couple of days, we will know what system we will use. For us, having two or three systems is very useful and helpful in order to win."
On short week prep
"We are working on recovery. There is nothing different that we are doing so far. We are going to prepare for turf. We are going to prepare for the weather. We are expecting it to be hot there. We will do our best to prepare for those conditions."
On the backline consistency while changing combinations
"It takes time. It's about playing. It's about practicing and preparing in our sessions and video sessions. So far, we are taking the optimal advantage of the time we had in preseason. Having a lot of new guys on our team, including the staff too, I would say the balancing of that is time and work and confidence that we are creating for all of the pieces to settle down."
On Gehrig's return
"We committed ourselves to help Eric get out of this very serious injury. He is improving very well. What we said is that we don't want to push him before he is ready to start. He is very, very ambitious. He wants to be (back) as soon as possible. Sometimes that didn't help him during his recovery in the preseason, so we are managing that. We are looking forward in the next weeks, couple of weeks, and I don't want to put any deadline to that, there is only a timeline of his recovery and how we are going to integrate him to the team and everything we are doing. I can tell you that he is working everyday the same things as the rest of the players. Sometimes, it's the volume that we are trying to manage because that's very important. That's what causes a lot of issues of situations where he had to stop and not practice with the group. Right now, he is doing great. I believe that in the coming weeks he can be available one hundred percent."
On Alvarez's role
"I think he is doing great. He's a great addition for our team. He is very talented and very experienced too. He always tries to share with the team, and with the youngsters, his experience in how we can improve in our game and situations that we have to manage during the game. He is very important as an experienced guy and an older guy who has experience at the international level. On the field, he reads the game very good. He helps the team defensively, but also offensively he always has that last pass. His execution is great too. He's also great on set pieces. We believe that he is going to have an important role in this season. On the other side, for an international call, I absolutely expect that from El Salvador that he will be called for the national team. If that happens, perfect for him."
On Kennedy Igboananike
"I think he is doing great. He is very committed to the style we want to play. What I'm very happy about is that he is scoring goals and he helped the team defensively again, like I said for Arturo too. He is very important. He is an experienced guy. He knows how to do in a locker room. He helps with managing youngsters. This is what we want to create here. The culture of young players, ambitious players, and all veteran players who are helping those guys to become pros and become the best they can be."