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August 9, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Sounders FC 2, Houston Dynamo 0 — Sigi Schmid quotes

(Opening statement) “Obviously we’re happy with the win. We’ve been talking about how we’ve wanted to get to .500. We’ve also been talking a lot about making our home games our home games again and making sure that we win at home. Today was a good result, especially against Houston. Last year and in the past when we’ve played teams that are more physical or robust are teams that have given us a hard time. We were able to match that and came out ahead at the end of the day, so I was very pleased.”

(On Montero and the goals) “On the goal he did a great job because he posted up the guy and was able to hold the guy off, shield the ball and then hit a great shot. And the ball he slipped through to Flaco was great. He (Fernandez) made a good run and then his composure showed because he mistouched it on his first touch, his touch got behind him, but he was able to recover and his composure on the finish was very, very good. Being able to finish off plays is something that allows you to win games and he’s done it twice for us now in the last two games.”

(Are you playing your best soccer offensively and defensively?) “Yeah, definitely. I think defensively, Parke and Ianni played really well together in the middle, not to discount our outside backs. I thought they played well also. Sturgis and Alonso have formed a pretty good partnership right now in the middle of midfield, it’s allowed our wide guys to get sprung forward. We’re working hard defensively. When you look at the game, there’s a lot of shots that we blocked, so that means guys are really sacrificing themselves defensively. Offensively, we’re getting in behind. I’d still like to see us finish chances a little bit better. Sanna got in 2-3 times in the first half where I thought we were going to get something out of it. We have to read a little bit the runs that Nkufo makes because he was in a couple times, but we found him a lot more often today. I think it’s starting to gel together. We have a little time to practice this coming week and want to go down to Chivas and get ourselves another result.”

(On Montero winning the long ball against a bigger defender) “Strength on the ball has nothing do with size. It’s your body position. It’s how you’re able to technically control the ball as it comes to you. Those are the things that are important, but it’s really your body position. You look at a guy like Guillermo Schelotto, who is very strong on the ball but he’s not a big guy. And Montero is the same. He knows how to get his body positioned well, which he did, and that made the goal for him.”

(On Blaise Nkufo dealing with the physicality of the game) “I told him tonight would be a physical night for him. He was going against two guys who are certainly very aggressive and are going to play him very tight. He’s not a flopper, so obviously he felt he got taken down a few times. Michael Kennedy saw it one way, the referee saw it one way, we probably saw it a different way. I told him that we both probably needed to watch the game again and then we could talk.”

(Surprised in offense you’re getting from Alvaro Fernandez?) “No, no, because that’s what we felt he could give us. When he was playing in Chile for Universidad de Chile, he played as an attacking wide right guy. He’s played on the left and he can also play in the middle of the midfield, but he’s definitely someone who can get forward and attack. There were a couple of other times he was almost in as well. He’s not a guy who’s going to dribble at you in the way that Zakuani is going to dribble at you, but he’s a guy who’s going to one-two around you and he’s still going to use speed. He has more speed I think than people realize because he’s one of those guys that’s just very fluid in his running style.”

(On Nkufo’s role in the winning streak) “It’s certainly helped us. His ability to occupy a defender, to be strong on the ball, to hold the ball up, to bring the other players into the game — the midfielder and forwards — are very important. It’s something that Jaqua gave us last year, early in the year, and he was injured obviously this year. It’s a pairing with him and Montero that from a standpoint of their strengths is a much more complimentary pairing than we were able to play with earlier this season. And as a result of that, each guy is able to play to their strengths and it compliments the other.”

(On Jaqua’s impact as a second-half sub) “Obviously Blaise had put in a lot of work there. So Nate’s certainly a guy who can play, and when he came in he’s got fresh legs. We told him that there was going to be spaces that we could play behind them. They were going to have to take risks and he should either look to make those runs or try and play people in. He did what we needed. Sometimes people look at it and say it was only five minutes or it was only six minutes that he played, but those were an important 5-6 minutes.”

(On Fernandez being comfortable on the left) “I think he’s going to play for us on the left, he’s going to play for us some on the right. One of the things we liked about him was that he was a versatile player and when I spoke to him, he goes, ‘Hey left, right, middle, I’m OK in either one.’ As any player, he just wants to get on the field but I think he’s a smart player. So when he plays on the left, he knows how to position himself and how to use his body, and when he plays on the right he knows how to use his strengths as maybe he would take guys more to the outside. But he can play in either place.”

(On Keller’s impact on the streak) “Kasey always keeps us organized. He does a lot of good talking back there and he keeps the guys organized and alert. Playing Houston is difficult because Brad Davis is probably one of the best servers of the ball when it comes to corner kicks and set pieces, and Mulrooney is a good server of the ball. Way back when, when Mulrooney was playing for Creighton, he served the ball to knock us out of the playoffs with UCLA. So I still don’t have good memories of him. (laughs) But he’s a great server, Brad is, and Kasey’s got to make sure people are marked up, he’s got to come for the ball at the right times, make it easy for them. So that requires work. I think also, the guys in front of him right now are working really hard, and he’ll be the first to tell you that they’re sacrificing life and limb to block shots and get in the way of things and recover and cover for each other. That’s what makes you a good defensive team, everybody works for each other, and at the end of the day, when you play good defense, you get the ball and allows you play offense and allows you to outshoot opponents.”

(As Montero continues to improve, what do you think is the cap for him?) “I think Fredy can still get better. I think he’s a player who makes some marvelous decisions in games and certainly his skills and the ability he has to finish things off are superb. And he’ll be the first to tell you, there’s still times where he can make better decisions. There’s still times where maybe he can hold the ball a split second and play the guy in. Maybe he can release it a little sooner. But as you mature as a player and you’re decision making becomes better and better, and becomes more refined, that’s what experience is, and maturity. Right now, we’re seeing a very, very good Fredy Montero. He’s probably, if not the best forward in the league right now, as good as any forward in the league. Obviously Edson Buddle has been banging away goals all season for the Galaxy, but right now Fredy has found a very rich vein of form.”

(On a break playing Chivas next week) “I don’t think playing Chivas is a break, so let’s make sure we don’t say that. They’re not a last-place team in my mind. They’re a team that started off the season poorly and they’ve completely revamped their team. They’ve made like 4-5 major player changes. So that’s going to be work and it’s going to be a battle down there. But our training is geared to the individuals a little bit. Not only getting our team ready and our team fit, and I think we showed last week and this week when you really look at it, the amount of games that we’ve played over the two weeks and fitness-wise we’ve held up pretty well. A lot of guys have logged a lot of minutes. James Riley’s has played a lot of minutes, Leo Gonzalez, you can go on and on, Ozzie Alonso. So it’s now a matter of us looking at it, who needs a little more regeneration time? Who needs to work a little bit? We still want to build the fitness of Blaise. We still want to build the fitness of Flaco and get that going as well. So it’s a little bit individualized, and Tuesday will be a real mixed training day. Some guys will do one thing and some guys will do some things very different. Wednesday will be more together as a group, but still a little separation, and then Thursday we’ll be as a group.”


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