Second City Soccer joined last week’s press conference with Head Coach Raphael Wicky and midfielder Fabian Herbers. Below are the transcriptions from Second City‘s questions:
Head Coach Raphael Wicky
SECOND CITY SOCCER: Obviously a bitterly disappointing loss last time against Montréal, given you out-performed them I thought the entire match. Curious how you made sure the squad kept that right mentality and focus and motivation after a tough loss like that, especially with added difficulty of some of the players leaving for international duty and being separated from the guys?
RAPHAEL WICKY: Yeah, so first, we obviously gave them a few days off after the Montréal game. I think we all obviously knew that there is a three-week break, so we gave them a few days off. I think it was important to have a few days off and be with family or friends or just not thinking about football much.
We also, obviously, knew that in this break, this break for us result-wise comes in a good moment. So we then said we are going to use this break to train hard with the guys who are here, to reflect, to reflect about the time since I have been coaching this team, and that’s what we are doing.
I think the guys who are here train hard, train well, and prepare well for the next game, and that’s what we are doing, preparing for that very, very intensive period which will come from the Columbus game where we have 27 games left till the end of the season, which going to be a lot of games in a short amount of time.
The reality is, as well, that we are right now missing two guys who are in Europe for green card appointments, plus Calvo, Gastón, and Frankie who are not there, so those are five important players who are not training with the team right now. And then after the Montréal game we had the first week a few guys who needed a little bit of a break because of a few knocks and a few little things.
So yeah, with the guys we have, we are working hard, preparing them, and we also for the first time since COVID hit, we were able to have academy players training with us because a lot of them are now also vaccinated. So we took advantage of that to reintegrate some of those guys.
SECOND CITY SOCCER: Frankie will probably be out the longest, and given how far the Polish team advances, even more. He’s been a key person in your attack this season. Can you speak to how much of a miss he’ll be for you guys over the next few weeks?
RAPHAEL WICKY: Yeah, you’re right, Frankie is an important player for us. Gastón will also be gone because he is probably going to do the Copa America, as well, after the qualifying, so he will also be gone for quite a few games, those two players. Calvo I expect to be after the game tonight, so he will be back with us and the European guys, I hope they will be back, as well, by the end of the week so they can train next week for the Columbus game.
But to answer your question, of course, of course we miss Frankie. Frankie is an important player. On the other hand, we didn’t have Frankie against Montréal and we still created a good amount of chances, good chances, good moments. We were quite dominant, we had a good performance besides not scoring and not winning that game without him.
I always think if a player is not there, then it’s an opportunity for another player to step in and that’s how we have to see it. I’m proud and happy for Frankie and for Gastón that they can be part of such big tournaments.
I think that’s always very, very nice for the players to live something like that and it’s good for the club to have players being with national teams. And, again, it opens a spot for another player where another player has to step in and perform, and that’s how we are taking this situation. There’s no other way for me to deal with that.
SECOND CITY SOCCER: Really enjoyed watching you play since you’ve come back from injury. Glad you’re playing regularly because I think you’ve helped increase the level of play of the squad and given that you have a solid point of view given that you’ve been on the field for the last few games, where do you think the squad has done well over the last couple of matches?
Because I think the squad has improved their performances over the last two to three games, so given your point of view, where do you think the squad has done well and has improved? Can you just speak to that?
FABIAN HERBERS: Yeah, looking at those last, yeah, three games, if you include the D.C. game, I feel like we have been more compact. We have been more – especially those two games at home against Miami and Montréal, we really didn’t concede any big chances against these guys.
And overall, I think the creativity and the flow and the attack has come a lot better because I feel like in the earlier games in the season when you look at the Red Bull game, the Philadelphia game where we didn’t really create all that much, I feel like we created a ton of chances against Miami. We had the possibility to score against Montréal, as well, so there were times, myself, too, I had a big chance.
Yeah just defensively we are overall more compact and then just the flow, the dynamic up front was better, as well, I thought.
SECOND CITY SOCCER: Following up on that, where do you think the squad needs to improve moving forward?
FABIAN HERBERS: At the end of the day, it comes down to scoring goals, right? Like I said, I had a big chance against Montréal. I could have done something different there to score. Other guys had bigger chances, as well, and we need to put those games away.
Possibly in the first half where you score like one or two, maybe even three goals if you have big chances, and you know, just to put those in the back of the net in order to really, yeah, don’t give the other team any hope anymore to come back. I think it just comes down to being sharp in the box and then really put away those chances that you do create.
Wicky was asked about two players with long-term injuries: Kenneth Kronholm and Stanislav Ivanov. Wicky said Kronholm is not training with the squad at the moment after he was given a few days rest due to a minor setback with his knee. The keeper tore his ACL in training last season.
Ivanov is said to be progressing and is on time with his recovery, but it will be some time before he is up and training with the first team.
Wicky also said that there are currently no plans to replace former assistant coach David Zdrilic, who left the club last month. Wicky mentioned second team coach Ludovic Taillandier is set to be fully vaccinated and would be able to join the first team and that there are enough coaches on the coaching staff as of now.