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April 26, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Your questions answered, and sometimes not answered…

About a week ago I asked readers for some questions. Here are my attempted responses. Obviously I wasn’t able to answer everything — since taking the questions, my only access to the team was postgame in Dallas.
Feel free to run with some of the topics and discuss in the comments section.

* * *
The standings in the Sports page are currently laid out “won/lost/tied/points/goals-for/goals-against.” Can you change it to “won/lost/tied/games-played/points/goal-differential?”
Those standings are not designed by The Times. They come over the wire, so that one is out of our hands. But I do think your suggested categories are better.

In this World Cup year is the club having difficulty finding top-flight squads for the 3 friendlies that have yet to be announced?
I hear NYRB are going to go with 3 DPs. Are the Sounders going to to use the new DP rule to their fullest advantage and will they do it this year?
Does Sigi expect Nkufo will have an immediate impact on the Sounders or does he see a learning period where our expectation should not be too high?
What should our expectations of Nkufo be once he arrives?

Hanauer has made it seem like it’s just a matter of getting the teams to sign. He likened the situation with the friendlies to “herding cats” at the unveiling of the third kit. That said, it sounds like they’re close and everyone expects an announcement of the friendlies soon.
When the new DP rule was announced, Hanauer said it could be mechanism to get Nkufo into the league. So I anticipate him being the second DP, which some reports hinted to a while back. I wouldn’t expect Seattle to rush into signing a third this season, but never say never.
I think everyone expects Nkufo to have an instant impact. Fitting in is much easier when you’re asked to play a position and role you’re familiar with (be a target man and play as high up as you can). And remember he’s a World Cup player and a top scorer in Holland, so it’s OK for expectations to be high. I think he’ll be one of the league’s best forwards.
Do the Sounders think they will be active when the transfer window opens in July?
Also, what are the chances we will lose Montero when the transfer window opens?

The team has said it won’t just make moves to make moves. But if Seattle is 5-5-5 come summer time, I would expect some changes. Then again, they won’t expect to be 5-5-5… So it’s hard to say. Again, a lot is riding on Nkufo’s arrival.
The chances Montero will bolt this summer? High. He’s a talented kid with aspirations of playing in Europe. I’ll say 84.1%.
What’s up with Mike Seamon? Will we see him again, or was he cut?
If I remember correctly, he’s back at Villanova finishing up his degree (like Fucito last year). He should rejoin the team in a month or two. Schmid said he liked what he saw in preseason though.
Has the club discussed the possibility of installing natural turf?
Doubtful. Sounders FC have both grass and turf practice fields though at Starfire.
With many of the MLS teams announcing their friendlies any idea of when the Sounders will? And who they might be?
Very soon. Here are some of the teams that will be in the U.S. this summer, so expect a team or two here to be involved:
Manchester United, Manchester City, AC Milan, Juventus, Tottenham, Rangers, Celtic, Valencia, Benfica, PSG, Sporting Lisbon, Fiorentina.
I read something on a couple days ago that was saying that N’Kufo is going to be taking up our second DP slot. The article referenced something Hanaeur said at one point, somewhere. Is this true? Is there any truth to that at all? They said it was for salary reasons as it would only cost them $164k or something for the second half of the season.
The report in question was from Don Ruiz of the TNT. From what I read, it sounded like Hanauer was saying this would be the likely way to get Nkufo into the league. He has since told others that it’s not set in stone that he’ll be the team’s second DP later this season.
– Do you stay at the same hotel with the team when you travel?
– What is the typical routine for the team when they are on the road?
– Which other local media travel with the team for away games?
– Who’s your favorite player to interview/chat with and why?
– Can you do stories on some others involved with our team that could be good reads during the week b/w games (ie. Arlo White, Youth Team Development coaches, famous ball girl from last week’s game, the ECS guys that come up with the huge tifos for games esp the Union opener, Nkufo phone interview before he gets here talking about what he’s looking fwd to about coming to Seattle, etc)

No. I make my own travel plans.
That depends on the trip. Usually they get in the day before the game and hang out that night, maybe watch a movie. It’s all business though, nothing fancy.
So far, I’ve traveled to two of the three away games. No other Sounders FC beat reporter has gone to any league games on the road, from what I understand.
It’s the easy way out, but all the players and coaches are great to talk to. All very good quotes and it’s hard to single out a couple. I keep trying. How about Jaqua? There’s one.
Those stories are fun and I try to think out of the box. I have talked to Arlo about doing something in the future. I was thinking of doing that one later in the season. The legend of the ball girl was great (though getting in touch with her would have been tough) and I’m sure there will be plenty of Nkufo stories.
Hey Josh – I just watched the roundtable with Matt, Arlo and Tony and at the end of the segment, Tony specifically said the new 3rd kit will be worn at the TWO friendlies. He either made a mistake (which is quite possible if you’ve seen those segments) or he let some info slip…meaning the team is planning two friendlies and using the 3rd friendly spot for a match that matters which could realistically only be the CCL play-in game.
You could be reading too much into that one, but you never know. I’ve always been the under impression that it’s three.
1. Dude, I’ve been impressed with your reporting since you took over this beat, and I especially love the fact that you have a (reasonably strong but needs to be nastier) OPINION – and you SHARE it with us. I really wish you would write more op-ed type Sounder pieces/columns and give us a bigger slice of that opinion, insight, and in-depth analysis we’re all craving. And please don’t tell me to just wait four weeks for the next (weak) Kelley column – he’s not our soccer dude, dude!
2. HOW LONG are you going to keep up this pace with the blog? I mean MY GAWD man, I gotta sleep sometime and you’re making it very difficult to do so. You’re out-pacing Baker and Stone combined!
3. Any word on those “Friendlies”? (kidding)
And finally for Lawdawg82: What’s a “huge tifo”? It sounds like something I’d like to see.

Just ask the questions and I’ll be happy to insert my opinion. Whether it’s in a Q&A post or an email.
There’s a high standard for blogging at our paper, I just want to catch up. Plus, I have a bit of blogging experience from my own site before I got the beat, so I’m very comfortable with constant updates. Let me know if there’s anything you think I could add.
I don’t mind all the questions about the friendlies. There’s a lot of interest, but the team is playing it close to the vest for now.
To those that don’t know, tifos are the big, super banners you see in the ECS.
I have a reliable source that told me that last year FC Barcelona threatened to pull out of the friendly here in Seattle after seeing the field. Obviously the game went ahead but is our turf causing problems in getting some of the top teams to come here for friendlies ? I know we put grass down for those games but grass on top of turf doesn’t play like real grass – does it ?
Also, I know our academy is new but are there any players in the academy who the Sounders feel are ready or nearly ready to make the step up to the 1st team squad ?
I remember asking Pep Guardiola about what he thought of Seattle after the game, and he said it was all great — but the turf. With these million-dollar bodies out there, I could understand the turf being a concern for these top teams. That rent-o-grass can get bad. I definitely is not the same as regular grass fields.
If you remember, academy Sean Okoli was training with the team a while back. He participated in a few training sessions and even saw time against Oregon State in a reserve game. For my money, he looked pretty good. I think he’d be the academy player signed, if anyone.
The Dallas game is at 7pm, on a Thursday, at Dallas.
I am setting the over/under at 8,300 for the attendance… Which are you taking?

Wasn’t the official attendance 8,521? Good call.
I would’ve taken the under. In actual attendance, I was probably right.
What do you see from Sturgis? This board is pretty split between Evans haters and Peter V haters for CM. Is the kid showing much in practice? And what is the latest on Estrada? We saw him for 10 minutes and nothing else since.
Before the trip I was telling people to expect Sturgis to get a start this weekend. He’d earned a lot of praise from Schmid a couple weeks ago and everyone expected some new lineups (maybe not to the extent we did). Everytime Sturgis is on the field, I think he shows well for himself. Playing on the left side in the Toronto, a position I haven’t seen him play before but he was definitely involved.
Obviously you saw Estrada a couple times this weekend. He summed up his approach well after the Dallas game: play simple and put in the work.
To mirror the comment of lawdawg82, beyond Tony’s slip , I have now heard the phrase “two friendlies” used in two other press related settings from the Sounders. I suspect something is afoot. Please confirm that there are 3 friendlies.
Maybe you guys are on to something. Didn’t someone else say the price is different for one of them in the season ticket packages?
You pumped for Champions League? I know I am. MLS teams traditionally don’t take this tournament seriously- which is a real bummer in my book. You get to see reserve games, which most of us don’t. Do you think we are OK at depth with our reserves where we can stay in the playoff hunt while still being successful in CONCACAF?
I remember thinking in a reserve game that Seattle had a lineup (Ianni, Nyassi, Fucito, Vagenas, Sturgis among others) that would show decently well in a league game.
I think the Sounders FC depth has to be one of the best in the league. Worked well in the first few rounds of the USOC last year, didn’t it?
And yes, I’m excited to the CONCACAF Champions League. Definitely something new, should be fun.
If you could make Sigi do one thing about his starting XI, be it add different personnel, switch positions or try a different formation, what would it be? Mine would be to grab the ball girl in the july window and put her in right mid to support blaise (I heard nowak is interested).
Schmid is one of the best coaches in the country at any level. Not sure what tweaks I could make to improve things. I like this lineup though.
What is the general strategy once we get the ball in our attacking half/final third. I feel like on many occasions I’ve seen our forwards sitting on the back line. This plays in to the ball over the top mentality. Is that our game plan? If not why aren’t they making more penetrating runs or checking back and creating space for a mid to run through?
Schmid said passing and movement are the keys in the offensive third. He said before the season that the team wasn’t going to do well if it asks Montero to post up centerbacks on his own. But getting space along the wing, providing good service and making good runs to the near and far posts are the way to go.
With a bunch of smaller, quicker players the passing needs to be on form. Timing of runs, communication and threading together some combinations are key. Maintaining possession has been a struggle though at times.
“Long-winded preamble, but my question is; now that Ianni is healthy, what does he need to do in training to get 1st team minutes? ”
Pray. He needs to pray, because that’s the only way he’s getting in the line-up regularly if I’m the coach (and the past two seasons tells me Sigi feels the same way). Ianni is NOT a centerback.. I wish people would get it straight. He has always been a d-mid (who has the flexibility to play c-back). So you want to take Alonso off the field and put Ianni in there? Didn’t think so. Ianni is a mistake waiting to happen on the back line. The only thing he would give us is a little bump in speed.

I thought Ianni showed very well Sunday against Toronto. But you are right, the minutes appear to be sparse with the two regular at centerback.
I have not heard any update on Nate Jaqua’s rehabilitation for a couple weeks. How is his injury progressing? Also, Taylor Graham has not seen the field due to injuries suffered over the last year and a half. How much more patience do you feel the club has with him, and if he does recover from his injuries, is he talented enough to compete for a spot in the starting XI?
Jaqua’s rehab is going well from what I’ve seen. He’s gone from walking, to jogging, to running. Haven’t seen him sprint yet, but he’s definitely on the road to recovery. Give him a couple more weeks.
Not sure if he’s a starting XI guy. I’ve compared him to Mike Sweeney in the past. Definitely still got the talent to contribute, but adds a lot in terms of chemistry and as a veteran presence in the locker room. He’s a very vocal guy in training and is an assistant coach-type on the field.
That said, constant injury worries would make anyone a bit impatient, including Graham.
Do any of the players have predictions for the World Cup? Are any planning on going to South Africa to watch while the MLS is on break?
What do the players really think of the new electricity jerseys??

We’ll be sure to have a bunch of World Cup coverage once we get closer to the tournament. I would highly doubt anyone is going to South Africa, except Nkufo.
Some of the guys like the bright yellow. I’m sure a couple others don’t. In the end, it’s a third jersey. It will make 3-4 appearance a year and will likely be cycled out in a year or two.
It makes me think of the old “quickfire” Q&A with individual players from time to time (usually used on slow news days):
– What’s your favorite Seattle hangout?
– Your favorite color?
– Your favorite band?
– If you could drive any car…
– What teammate considers himself the “prettiest”?
– (for the internationals): What you and your buddies back home did to let off steam.
– etc., etc., etc.

That’s more blog fodder, but always fun. I’ve tried to get Q&As up on the blog when I can, but asking a couple light-hearted questions could be good.


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