I got the chance to chat with Sigi Schmid this morning. The team is off to La Manga on Monday, which I wrote a story for the paper, but here is a full* transcript of the interview.
* — in full discretion, I have transcribed only the question-and-answer portion of the talk. That’s it. Sorry, the rest is off the record. 🙂
* * *
How does training change the closer you get to the start of the regular season?
“We want to do a lot more things. We’ll be working on our tactics and how we want to play. The first period of training was used to get acquainted with each other a little bit, take a look at the new guys, and give ourselves a really good fitness base. Now we’ll start to ease things down in the sense of hard training and start working on what combinations work, who looks good with whom on the field, how we want to play, our style and things like that. In comparison to last year, we’ve probably worked harder so far earlier in the training camp than we did last year, when we did a lot of player evaluation.”
What kind of opportunity is it to play an establish club like Rosenborg?
“Being able to play a team with the tradition of Rosenborg is great for us. We look forward to playing them, they have a rich history. It’s great because they are close to their season beginning and, like I said, they’re a team that was very successful last year as Norwegian champions. That’s going to be great, and we’ll also get an opportunity to maybe play Danish teams. I know there’s a Russian team in the other group, so hopefully we’ll be able to play teams from a lot of different countries.”
How excited is the team to make this trip, considering the uncertainty around the collective bargaining agreement, which could have canceled it?
“I think we’re all excited as a club to be a part of this trip. I don’t think the team is looking forward to the bus ride. That might not be the highlight of the trip. I think once they get there they’ll be OK. The competition, the weather is supposed to look good, which is important. The fields are good, which is also important. The main thing going to Europe, as we did with Argentina last year is trying to get competition, having quality games. Argentina was good for that, but some games were rearranged for weather and team unavailability. The good thing with La Manga is we’re assured of the quality of opponent we’re going to see.”
Is winning the La Manga Cup a goal going into the trip, or would it be more of a bonus considering your other priorities in getting ready for the season?
“Winning the tournament would be a bonus, really. But anytime you step on the field you want to win. I have often said that winning is a habit, and it is one that you look to establish early. Though we’ve gone through preseasons, recent ones in 2007 with the (Columbus) Crew, where we lost just one game in 12 in the preseason but didn’t make the playoffs. Then in 2008, we went .500 in the preseason and won the championship. The main thing is we get our fitness based and rhythm of play. Winning along the way is important, just like it was with Vancouver. Being able to show composure at two goals down and come back and win is great for the team’s mentality. We always want to win, and if we win the tournament that will be a bonus, but it’s definitely not a necessity.”
How is this preseason different than last year’s, considering you’ve been around most of the group for over a year now?
“Obviously familiarity makes things easier from their (the players’) standpoint. They know what to expect and it makes preparation easier. We (the coaches) have an idea of how the guys play and how we play, and we can emphasize what we want: to play faster, getting the ball forward quicker, get the ball in the (penalty) box and getting on the end of crosses, working on things that we didn’t do as well last year. Compared to last year, that’s when we were trying to figure out how all the parts stick together. And what someone does in practice and what they do in games isn’t exactly the same. In games is where you get the true feel for how they’re going to react in certain situations. We know that now about a lot of our players, now we can push the envelope on things that need to happen for us to get better as a team.”