The Fire could have David Accam and David Arshakyan back this coming weekend against Toronto FC once the international matches are done. Fitting them back into the side doesn't appear as urgent now following the 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.
Veljko Paunovic talked about the latest victory and more during his weekly media conference call. Here are the highlights:
Paunovic on Arshakyan's playing time upon return
"We believe that all of our guys have to earn their spots. They have to perform from game to game and from practice to practice at their best, like we always said. We are happy to have now more options in attack. Of course, we will decide depending on the performance and the needs of our team in order to win every single game. So far, I think the guys are doing very well in the last games, especially in attack and that's important. Everybody has to prove himself in every session and in every game. That's something that we consider a lot."
On any future playing time for Rodrigo Ramos
"It depends. All our guys are important for us. We treat them the same. We give them the best of us. We want them to be successful and we also know that the needs for the team sometimes are different. Rodrigo is recovering well. Not recovering from injury but recovering his form. We believe that at some point he will have the opportunity but right now I can't tell when that is going to happen."
"We believe that Rodrigo was tired or overwhelmed with the overall demand of the league. Being in a foreign country, being a rookie in this league, we believe that he needed a break. It's not only that but the other guys are doing well and they're pushing hard. We have Johan, who played very well so far at that position. He had a couple of very good performances. We won that game in Montreal and we moved from there. We'll see in the future."
On playing without Accam v Philadelphia
"Everyone is important. The progress that we had since we started working together in the preseason and later proves what we are doing at this point. With everyone being important and having the opportunity in training sessions with every game fighting for your spot, (helps) the competitiveness on the field. Especially for the games where we have to make some adjustments and changes like in this case so we can have competitive guys ready to play. That's part of the plan that we have and part of the demand and approach that we have since we started working together."
On facing Toronto FC without Giovinco
"We believe that every game is different. We believe Giovinco is an important player for them but also know that they are one of the best teams in the league and in our conference. They have resources to respond to (Giovinco missing). We know that it's going to be a very difficult game. We know that they are very competitive. They are fighting for the first position. The team is so far very consistent in the league. We know that we have to be at our best in order to be competitive and win the game. I think we have a great opportunity next Saturday. Winning the game will be starting a positive streak of games that we have at home. It's a also a great opportunity to come closer to the playoffs. Saying that, I think it's going to give us a huge, huge boost in order to finish the best we can. It's the (next) of the (remaining) 34 games that we had in order to reach the playoffs."
On Joao Meira's recent play
"We believe that everyone's performance in training and in the games matters. We believe that he had a very good comeback after the injury. We always to have to know, that before that he was playing at a good level. With no exception right now, we are very happy with the performance of all our guys. We believe that we have to be consistent in our performance and having this long week were we can recover and enjoy a little bit of the week that we had behind us. Today, we already started to prepare for the game against Toronto. Our goal is to win the next game and it's always going to be like that. We are doing everything possible to prepare for the game."
On the team's improvement over the last month
"In every conference call maybe I repeat things, but that's what we are doing. We are very consistent and committed to our plan and with our values. We are working hard. We believe that pushing ourselves in every fashion, in every game and with the best possible approach in order to win all of our games is something that has brought us to this position. We still believe we can do way better but right now we can say that the performance that we've had in the last couple of months is something that we were looking for and working for and finally we can see it very close. That always will be the rule. We can always do better and that's what we are looking for."
On the recent play of de Leeuw, Solignac, and Polster
"Everyone is important. I'm not going to stop repeating that. The guys who can convert all these opportunities, in this case Michael, Luis, David, and other guys like Arturo, Goossens, it's important. For me it's a matter of staying consistent in our work, in our approach. Keeping our guys motivated and always pushing them forward in order to get their best performance is something that gives us that opportunity to be finally moving forward where we are now. There's still a long way to go. We still have to keep that approach. There is a lot of games to play. I think we have a great opportunity in front us, starting with the next game. Eight games will be eight finals for us."
On Arturo Alvarez's contribution
"I think Arturo is having one of the best seasons so far in his career. We are very happy with that. We were able to manage together the load for the veteran players and his experience that he's bringing to our team in very important. We're very happy to see that he can increase the number of goals he scores and assisting our team and our players is something that he always did very well. Putting all of those things together and managing the load (helps) him feel the best he can feel in order to perform in the abundant talent that he has. That's something that's very important for us so far. We will continue doing the same. We will continue pushing and asking the best of Arturo because we believe there is still a lot to give from him. We expect that he will do that."
On the bounce back after the DC loss
"It was very important for us to come, especially in the way we did winning 3-0. It's important after the loss. We also have to understand that the game against DC was a completely different game from any other game we played. We believe and we work hard so that it doesn't repeat. This is information that you already know, but the best teams in the league in both conferences have lost a couple of games 7-0, 5-0, and things like that. I think we just had a very bad day that day against DC. We moved forward. We learned from that game. We learned a lot. We all have the feeling that this can't happen again."