The Fire are looking to regroup after the 6-2 defeat in DC and are preparing for a run of three consecutive home games. Veljko Paunovic addressed the last match, Khaly Thiam's red card, Rodrigo Ramos status with the team, and more during his weekly conference call.
Here's the rundown:
Paunovic on the team's mood after the game in DC
"Obviously the loss against DC was a hard loss for us. We are focusing on our next game and we are of course, still learning from the mistakes we made in the past, especially in that game. We will have DC again, very soon playing here so we want to take a good note of that game and prepare to face them here and pay back. Regarding the mood (of the team), I think the mood is normal. When you lose a game like that it's normal to change a little bit, but you have to understand that we always have to focus on our next opponent and next game because it's very important. One game makes a big difference, whether you win or lose. You can just go back and see how the mood changed after we won the game in Montreal and how positive everything was and how close we go to the playoffs (red line). We were able to bring everyone up and then you can the same thing happening when you lose the game against DC. We try to keep the mood and the focus on the next game and just being aware of that. Momentum is very important and at least we have some control of how we can respond to the momentum that we are (losing) now. We have to understand that winning the next game will give us another boost and another opportunity to have the momentum where we can chase for the playoffs. Right now we are building our mood for sure and we are recovering from the game and from the last week's three games played. We are focusing on the next opponent. We strongly believe in the approach where we will always play our next game the best we can. All speculation further, we believe we have opportunity to be competitive and we will continue doing that."
On Thiam's red card v DC
"We had a conversation. Most of the conversation I would like to keep private but I can share with you that he's aware that he made a mistake. We have to understand that he's a young player who is still adjusting to our league. The most important thing that I can share with you from our conversation is that he learned that he has to control his emotions. He has to control his competitiveness and of course. he has to know that every action we make on and off the field represents our team. He learned all these points and he addressed the locker room. We moved forward. That's very important for us. To learn from our mistakes but for sure, don't forget and don't repeat them again."
On his satisfaction with the team's effort in DC
"I think the guys, the ten guys and the guys who came in to help the team in the second half did a great effort. We have to understand it's very tough to play, especially in the situation where to play (a man down). For us the draw wasn't enough and we wanted to win points on the road again. It's tough when you have that situation. Guys did very well in pushing hard until the end. We also have to learn from our mistakes. That's the flip side of what we saw in Washington. We have to learn that we don't have to make all the mistakes in the game in order to learn and get better. What we are doing is addressing the team of possible challenges that we can have in any single game. We have to learn even before we make mistakes. What I'm trying to say is that maturity and how we handle the situation in challenging moments during the game is still something that remains as something that we have to improve and get better. We address everything and we talk about everything. We give everything we have. All of our knowledge and experience and we share that with our players and in return we expect a good attitude and learning experience from our guys. We move forward. We are happy with the effort but we have to improve our maturity and get better."
On training this week
"This week we want to reload and recover from not only the last week, but the whole season. We move than two-thirds of the season behind us. It's something that we have to manage. I think it's a great opportunity for us this week to recover but at the same time we keep our eye on the game on Saturday and prepare for Philly. The approach of competitiveness is going to always be in our sessions. The only that's going to vary is that we have to manage the load, which is what we're doing right now. The guys will appreciate this week in order to recover well and in the last couple of day to prepare for the game against Philly."
On Ramos not travelling to DC and decreased playing time
"The reason he didn't play is a technical reason and as I said before, he needs some time to recover. To come back from the long season, being a rookie in this league, being a young player, we believe that at some point young players need to have breaks. That's what we are giving him now. At the same time, we work on his mentality and recovery. To recover him physically but also working now for the next games to have him ready to play when we believe he is ready. He remains an important piece for our team but when and how he's going to play, that's something that we will decide depending on his performance in training. He has to earn it in training with his attitude on and off the field. That's it."
On missing David Accam on international duty
"David is a very important piece for us. Having him with the national team is going to help him become a better player and a better person. Every time player comes (back) after an international break and international experience, in my opinion it's a great opportunity to get better. Now you have a different opportunity to complete on a different level against different styles of playing soccer and against an international level of players. Putting all this together means that it's a great opportunity for him and also David Arshakyan. He'll have a great experience and get back here better. Once they are here we have a plan for them for recovery from the long travel and demand of the competition that they are going to play. All this is important to have in mind before we put them back with the team and ready to compete for us."
On the affect of this season's results on him
"Right now it's not a moment where I should think about the underline and think about the season behind. I think we have competition to go and we have games to play. We are not abandoning and we are not getting away from our goal to reach the playoffs. Once everything is done, I will think about. Right now I'm just thinking about our next game."
On the transition from coaching Serbia's U20's to pro coaching
"As I said, I'll think about it and I'll talk about it when the season is over."
On feeling pressure due to results so far
"I really don't feel any kind of pressure from elsewhere. I'm really enjoying my job and enjoying this experience. It's a fantastic experience for me. As I said, I'm not giving up on anything yet."
On whether the Montreal match featured his ideal line-up
"The game against Montreal was our most complete game this season. In this respect we're very happy with that and will use that game as reference in the future. What we were looking for is a game with that competitiveness. The victory gave us a sense of identity in that game. For the future, we need to get better."
On playing Johan Kappelhof at right back
"Johan is a versatile player who can play in three positions - as a centerback, as a fullback, and also he can play as a defensive midfielder. All three positions he played very often playing for Groningen in the past. That's how we selected him. That's how we found him. We saw him play in those positions. I this point we believe that helped, especially in the game in Montreal, he played the way we want to play with a fullback who can play up and down, defend, and also be good on the ball. (He provided) a lot of danger in the final third having good crosses. That's something that we believe also helped the team due to his experience on the field. Johan is very important for the team and his versatility gives us more options."