WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2004 - KANSAS CITY WIZARDS 1, CHICAGO FIRE 0
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS HEAD COACH BOB GANSLER
On the decision to let Igor Simutenkov take the final free kick:
"It was a shot for a right footer. If the same ball was on the other side, you would have seen Diego [Gutierrez] in there. If Francisco [Gomez] was in there, he might have had to arm-wrestle Igor for it. This is what I keep harping on them. This is what team is about. In the semifinal, Josh [Wolff] earned the PK off a pass from Igor and he could have taken it, but Igor says he feels good about it and Josh says go ahead. Tonight it was a similar kind of situation. We know who has the best chance in that situation to be successful and egos don't get in the way."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS FORWARD IGOR SIMUTENKOV
On his goal:
"For me, this is the most important goal of my life. Alex [Zotinca] ducked down and I was able to get the ball through the wall. I'm very happy and happy for this group of guys, the coaches and the fans."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS FORWARD JOSH WOLFF
On Igor Simutenkov's goal:
"Honest to God, before (Igor) took it, I said to Jimmy [Conrad] watch out this might go in. It didn't go in like I thought it would, but at least he put it hard on frame. Henry [Ring] made a good save on the first one, then it took an unfortunate bounce off the crossbar and hit him in the back of the head and it went it. I was sitting at the back of the doorstep for any loose change. I'm extremely happy for Igor with all the work he put in and I'm extremely happy for the organization. More importantly, it is a piece of hardware and a championship and, as a soccer player, that is what you play for."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS GOALKEEPER TONY MEOLA
On the win:
"It feels good. I've played in this tournament so many times as an amateur and at all levels. This feels good to finally get it."
CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH DAVE SARACHAN
On the game:
"We negated them quite a bit in the first half. In the second half as our tired legs started to emerge, we got a little bit exposed but we missed a few chances that I think could have put us ahead. I think we could have won the game tonight. Championship games are one-play games and they got the play at the end."
On Kansas City's performance:
"It was a hard game for the offense. Kansas City doesn't concede a lot of goals and we didn't have many looks at the goal tonight. I give credit to their defenders. In these kind of games, championship matches, everything is tight as it is and teams don't get a lot of looks."
On Henry Ring's performance:
"He made a good save in the second half. There was another one where he came out and forced Diego [Gutierrez] to hit it wide. Henry did well and even on the goal, he makes the initial save but hits the crossbar, bounces, hits him in the head and it goes in. It's one of those crazy things that happens. But I'm very proud of my team."
CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD DAMANI RALPH
On the game:
"It was a very difficult game. I don't think it was more difficult than the New York (MetroStars) game last year but that's the game of soccer. You work hard, you press and at the end of the day somebody has to win. Congrats to Kansas, they kept pushing. They won."
On Kansas City's defense:
"They made it difficult for us. Plus the whole atmosphere, they were at home. It's one of those things. No excuses. They played a good game, as we did. I'm proud of my guys. I'm proud of my teammates. They put on a good fight tonight and unfortunately we came out losing."
CHICAGO FIRE MIDFIELDER JESSE MARSCH
On the game:
"It was a hard-fought game. They had a little bit of an edge, more than we did. We fought pretty hard and weren't able to come away with that coveted play. Congratulations to Kansas City, they played hard. We were hoping to come in here and steal one, but we were unable to do that."
On the Wizards' defense:
"They have a good defense. Tony's always good in goal. We've had trouble putting complete games together all year long. We've had trouble having the back line connect with the midfield line, the midfield line connnecting with the forward line and that's led to not that many chances and not that many goals. We need to be sharper in the final third. It's frustrating."
On the importance of the game tonight:
"It was hugely important for us. It would allow us to play a little more freely for the rest of the season, knowing that we already had one championship. But now we have to go back to the grindstone and try to get some points in our last four games."
CHICAGO FIRE DEFENDER JIM CURTIN
On the game:
"It was a battle from start to finish. They had a little better of the play in the second half. Both teams had chances. The last play that they had they called a foul at the top of the box and they kind of hit a low shot that short-hopped Henry. It was a tough bounce and we lost."
On Ring's play:
"He made a good save on [Kerry] Zavagnin that kept us in the game. He made a lot of little ones during the course of the game. Unfortunately we weren't able to pressure [Tony] Meola in his first game back. We would have liked to have more shots on him. That's the way it goes in a final game. One play will make the difference. The play went their way tonight and they deserved to win."
CHICAGO FIRE GOALKEEPER HENRY RING
On the game-winning goal:
"With the free kick he [Simutenkov] hit it and they nudged one of our players and it slipped right through the wall. It was a low shot that took a short hop on me. I tried to get as big as I could and deflected it straight up. It came down and hit me and went in."
On his reaction after the goal:
"It's been a frustrating season. To be my first season and have things not go as well as we've all wanted to as far as the team. Overall it was a good match. I had a good game, made some good saves. They said I kept us in the game to that point."