The Fire will look to break a 39 match road winless streak across all competitions on Saturday in Montreal. Veljko Paunovic addressed that game, the loan of Collin Fernandez and Alex Morrell to Saint Louis FC and more during his weekly conference call.
Here are the highlights:
Paunovic on Rodrigo Ramos' recent performance
"We believe that Rodrigo needed a break, a rest in the long season. Physically and psychologically we needed a break (for him) and we believe that for the next game that he will be fine. So far I think he's had very good moments early in the season, he started very well. It's normal and it's usual for a player that comes to a new league and country (to have) adjustments. That's always the challenge for everyone. I think he has some issues, especially in games, but I think overall he did very well so far. He's a very nice young (man) and he's a very good soccer player. We believe that for this game (Orlando City) he needed a break and that's what we considered."
On his own coaching performance this year
"I think that's more to talk about that at the end of the season. What I can say right now is that I'm doing my best. I'm very. very committed and I'm giving my all (with the) knowledge and experience that I have as a player and as a coach"
On Luis Solignac's contribution so far
"When we saw him late in (the Orlando) game, actually was what we expected after watching him perform in Colorado. I think he did very well. I think he energized our team in the second half. Just by pushing Orlando in their end more often helped us to create more opportunities and chances as we tried to tie the game. We expect him to continue doing the same thing and improving also in front of the goal. Having those opportunities, he has to convert them, which we believe he will do."
On facing Montreal for the second time this season
"From the last time, for sure we are a different team. On the roster and also where we are standing at this point in the season. It's going to be a completely different game. Where we have to improve is mostly from the last game and from that game we have reference of the guys like Drogba, like Piatti, and their quality. There are others guys who played in that game and we measure ourselves with them. We know it's different from playing for the first time in-season with someone. That gives you a good insight of what you can expect. Not only us on the coaching staff, but also the players. Especially the players who played in that game and came in the second half. The challenge will always from now on the next game. We are focusing and always will play every single game to win. It doesn't matter the opponent. It doesn't matter where we play. We are doing the same thing so, and we can't say we've been successful in that but the approach will always be the same. We will always give our best. I believe that at some point things will change. We look ahead and as long as we have possibilities for playoffs it will always stay our main goal. Now, after the disappointment of the Open Cup, that was the best that we could do in the Open Cup and we still have twelve games in the league that we have possibilities to get to the playoffs. We will do our best to do that. The best approach will be always focusing on the next game and with (try) to win the game. Give everything and always have our best possible guys on the field and try to perform the best we can."
On Fernandez and Morrell loans
"We believe that young players have to play. In this case, in order to play on the MLS level we believe that they needed games on a different level. Having our partner in Saint Louis with possibilities and having an open relation with them was a great opportunity for them to get those minutes which are necessary before they perform on the highest level. We know that they had a couple of opportunities this year to play but now it's a different part of the season. Having the level of competition where we are right now is good for them. It's going to very important for them to take advantage of the opportunity to play. I think Saint Louis will get the minutes and at the point where we are ready, we will recall them."
On Saint Louis coaching change and guaranteed minutes
"We are dealing on the level of the institution. With the General Manager, this is the first thing that we wanted to be sure of before we could talk to our players and give them the opportunity. Our players have to always agree with that, and that's what happened. Right now we are waiting for them to make a long-term decision but right now that situation hasn't changed. We expect that they will play. If there is anything to adjust or discuss again, we will do. For sure, we are supporting our players. our head of scouting, Matt Pearson was in Saint Louis watching the game this weekend. The coaching staff reviewed the game. We contacted the players before and after the game. We care about them and if there is anything that we have to do about adjusting the plan for them for the next months, we will do that. If we have to recall them, we will recall them."