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January 26, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Sigi Schmid and Mike Fucito

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(On team’s fitness…) “You have different levels of fitness for sure. Some of the coaches have trouble counting that many players, so that’s another issue. Overall, the guys have been good. Some guys have come in very, very fit and other guys still need to work on it a little bit more but that’s always the situation and the case. Tomorrow and Friday when we go through our testing we will have a better idea where everybody is at fitness-wise. We don’t like to do that right at the beginning of training. We want to let them play for a couple of days, get their minds not focused on that part of it. Overall, I’m pleased with where we’re at.”

(On goals for preseason training…) “The goal is that we have more competition, which we do. The goal is also that we have a good level of fitness throughout the team, which I think we do as well — the tests will bare that out tomorrow. And the other goal for us is that we start seeing what combinations make sense for us and start identifying how we are going to improve the team, how we are going to cut the team down.”

(On Mike Fucito’s elevation…) “It’s Mike’s work. When we drafted him we allowed him to go back at finish up school. Coming in at midseason was difficult, came in with a hamstring issue. That hamstring issue bothered sort of him in and out all through the rest of that year, so we didn’t protect him at the end of that year in 2009. In 2010, he came on, obviously scored that great goal against Kansas City and then he hurt himself and was out for like 100 days. Then he had a great run. We got him fit, built it up the right way and he had a great run I thought in the CONCACAF tournament scoring a good amount of goals. We saw that he was continuing to work hard, continuing to improve. He’s like a big sponge, whatever you say to him he sort of absorbs and takes with him and moves on to the next step. We saw that in him. We felt he could continue to grow and he’s shown that here. If anything, when he was training with the young guys he was a little more selfish. Now that he’s out with the old guys he’s a little less selfish and I actually told him he’s got to be more selfish around goal because he has an ability to hit a ball — that’s one of his strengths and that’s not something that everybody can do. He’s got something.”

(On Danny Earls and O’Brian White…) “I think Danny has done well. He has come in and he’s played with a lot of energy and always being left-footed helps you because you’ve got more right-footed players than lefties. I think he has done a very good job and he is somebody we got to obviously continue to focus on and look at but he’s definitely competing. He’s right there in the mix. O’Brian White, we’ve let him play the last couple of days. We still feel he is one of the guys who needs to build his fitness — I don’t know what happened in Toronto so I can’t say anything about that — but for sure when he has been on the field his movements, his movements around the box, I think in every game we have played he has either scored or been goal dangerous, which is what you want from a forward. He’s a big body. He’s got good size, good speed. I think this club is going to have a lot of joy with O’Brian White before the day is over.”

(On David Bingham lottery. He was asked about Sounders FC’s 10-percent chance before San Jose eventually won) “As Chris said, so you’re saying we have a chance. Obviously we know David Bingham fairly well. He played at Cal. He’s someone we’ve seen. One of the assistant coaches at Cal is somebody who played for me at UCLA and he also helped me as a volunteer assistant with the Galaxy. We’ve got a pretty good scouting report, pretty good rundown on what he’s all about. We would’ve liked it if he would’ve been in the draft. It didn’t work out that way. In the draft our chances might have been better than they are in the lottery, but we’ll see comes out of it at the end of the day. We’re also very happy with what we have. Obviously, Kasey is Kasey and enough said. Terry Boss is ready to really push. He knows that he has a chance to take over the year after. And we are happy with the two young guys. [Bryan] Meredith and [Josh] Ford have been good. It’d be nice but it’s not a desperate need anymore.”

(On Ford and Meredith) “Competition is always good because it pushes people to achieve more. It’s like when you work out on your own and you run on your own versus running with somebody else. It seems like you can run a little faster when you run with someone else because they push you. It’s the same thing when you’re competing for a spot on the field. The two of them have great attitudes, they come to work. I can see it on the smile on Tom Dutra’s face every time he comes out to practice. He’s really enjoying working with those guys and the reason you enjoy it as a coach is because the players are into it, and also because you see there’s potential there. They’re good kids, they’re working hard and there’s definitely potential.”

(On roster spots) “It’s going to be difficult at the end of the day for our team to make our final decisions because the overall caliber of the pool of players is stronger than it’s ever been.”

(On Brad Evans…) “It’s great to have him back. It’s also going to take him a while to get his soccer brain back on the field because he has been out for so long. But the good news is we had another MRI done yesterday and each one shows marked improvement from the one before so definitely we feel the injury is in check. He had no ill-effects from training yesterday but we want with him and with (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado) we want to just make it a little bit hard, easier, hard, easier until they get back into the flow completely. There’s no reason to push them so hard to try to get them 100-percent fit and then they are 100-percent injured. It’s better to be 100-percent not injured and only maybe 75-percent fit. So we are trying to get that balance between the two of them. But both of them, I throw Kennedy in the same group, after two, three weeks, four weeks you’re going to see marked improvement there.”

(On what Evans brings) “I won’t name the coach, but one of the other MLS coaches who’s a friend of mine, one of the first things he said when we saw each other was, ‘Do people realize how much you miss Evans? He has the ability to make those late runs in the box, which are so hard to defend.’ I said, ‘I don’t know if everybody realizes that.’ Because sometimes Brad will try something and give the ball away, everybody does that. He doesn’t have the same flair as, for example, Zakuani or Montero, but what he provides for us in the midfield is he’s that link. He’s that guy that gets into the box late. He’s that guy that becomes another scoring threat for us as a midfielder who gets a goal every five or six games. As well as Nate (Sturgis) and Ozzie played together last year, we really didn’t have that penetration from the middle, so that’s something that he provides.”

MIKE FUCITO, forward/midfielder

(How did it feel to be protected in the expansion draft?) “It was great. I was pretty flattered. I knew we had so many guys that deserved to be protected so it was bittersweet, kind of. Obviously I want to be here, but you don’t want to see your friends go either. I was really happy.”

(Were you surprised you were able to get to that level in two years?) “No, because I have been putting in the work and felt as though I was a little unlucky with the knee thing. I didn’t get as much time to show myself last season but I thought I was able to come back and show that I can play and that I can keep improving. That’s all I’m trying to do. Obviously I think the coaches saw that and that’s why I was protected. I was definitely flattered.”

(Does it change anything? Feel pressure to prove them right?) “I think it gives you a little bit of confidence. I think it adds a little bit of pressure, but Sigi always talks about how pressure is a good thing. Guys who can perform under pressure, those are winners, and that’s what I want to be. It gives me more motivation to prove that it was a good decision and that I can be a force to be reckoned with.”

(How’s the knee?) “I feel good. I spent the whole offseason here working with Dave to make sure that I was coming in healthy, coming in strong and fit. I feel great and I want to build off last year.”

(Coming out of college, were you disappointed being a 4th round pick?) “Yeah. I missed most of my senior season — but somehow managed to get All-American still my last two years — and I battled injury problems. But I was happy to be drafted. I think it was kind of a good thing. If I was healthy maybe I wouldn’t have been able to get picked up here, if I had gone higher. I think it worked out how it was supposed to.”

(Does that still provide motivation?) “Yeah. Coming in fourth round, maybe you don’t expect as much out of a fourth rounder as you do a first, but I like being the underdog, I’m kind of used to it. I like proving people wrong.”

(Lastly — credit this to D.C. — I heard that you played on the same high-school team as USMNT forward Charlie Davies?) “Yeah, we played forward together. We were all right. Broke a couple scoring records. We were good.”

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