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January 31, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid interviewed everywhere

schmid arizona.jpgPhoto credit: Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid was a popular guy Monday. Along with regular media duties at training — you can read his quotes at the end of this post and also in this story — the Sounders FC coach was interviewed on MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio and also by The Gas Man on 950 KJR.

Here are some synopses (I think that’s the first time I’ve used that word) on those conversations:

* * *

ExtraTime Radio

— Asked about his impressions so far in preseason, Schmid said he’s very happy, especially with the work the team put in over the offseason. He said the team’s overall conditioning is the best it’s been at this stage in three years. He said there’s a different vibe around the team.

— Asked about how some of the new guys will affect the team, Schmid said there’s a high level of competition now. He mentioned the battle at center back, with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado having to earn a spot back from the 2010 starters Jeff Parke and Patrick Ianni. Also the signing of Erik Friberg and return of Brad Evans clutters things in the middle with Osvaldo Alonso. That competition increases the level of training, which makes Sounders FC a better team.

— He went on to say that O’Brian White could surprise some people. It was only three years ago when he was the best player coming out of the college, much like Darlington Nagbe this year.

— Asked about if more is expected from Alvaro Fernandez this year, Schmid said definitely. Said playing time was limited due to Sanna Nyassi‘s late-season form, but Flaco still scored some important goals. Said the mental strain of coming off the World Cup and being away from his family (after becoming a new father, no less) had pulled him in three different directions. Now Fernandez is settled down and that should lead to a solid 2011.

— Asked about the team making the step up, Schmid said he likes the team’s core and keeping the nucleus together. Referenced Zakuani, Alonso, Montero, Evans, Hurtado and Ianni in that mix, but if the team doesn’t win you start to wonder if they’re the right guys. He said the team needs to develop that mentality where you can’t bear losing and find ways to win when things aren’t going well. He said the team is coming together in that sense. He said he sees guys wanting to win, when in previous seasons they didn’t quite know what that meant.

— Asked about this group making that jump without getting the big star, Schmid said he thinks the team can. Mentioned Steve Zakuani and said no one took the L.A. Galaxy playoff loss harder than him. He said the team really missed Brad Evans, especially his competitive nature. Guys are also holding each other to a higher standard.

— Asked about the difficulty in having a leader as a goalkeeper, removed from the field action, Schmid said it’s important that you have multiple leaders. Mentioned he had multiple leaders in Columbus (Hejduk, Carroll, Moreno) and that it’s getting there with Seattle. Riley, Alonso and Zakuani have stepped up in that regard and having leadership by committee is the way to go.

— Asked about the formula of success in Year 3, Schmid went over how he sees it: in the first year you’re assembling the pieces, in the second year you’re getting those pieces to work together and in the third year you make those final additions to fill the holes. In an interesting note, Schmid said other teams that have had success in Year 3 (RSL, Dallas, Colorado) had the benefit of being losing teams before rebuilding. When you’re a losing team you acquire allocation money and can turn yourself into a winner. Seattle has made the playoffs the last two years so it hasn’t been able to load up on allocation money (the initial bump from expansion is gone).

— Asked about draft day, Schmid said it’s a dynamic situation that constantly changes from minute to minute. He joked that a college class should do a sociological study on the day before the draft since it’s so crazy. He joked it was quieter this year without Toronto FC’s Mo Johnston around. With all the trade talks and picks and moves it’s an exhausting day, but he said ultimately a player’s success comes from heart, desire and the ability to think the game — instead of talent.

The Gas Man, 950 KJR

— Asked about the length of preseason, Schmid said it’s about the right length for him. The guys got eased into things last week and now things pick up. Then you start playing preseason games and the guys liven up a bit.

— Asked about playing so many games, Schmid said it was tough last year because of the roster size. With four more players on the squad this year it will be easier to play all those games (34 in league + Open Cup + CONCACAF Champions League).

— Asked about bigger rosters, Schmid said depth and flexibility benefit most. He said he might have wanted to rest a guy last year, but the injury situation or depth made it tough.

— Asked about some guys that are impressing so far, Schmid mentioned the guys coming back from injury, Evans and Hurtado. He said Erik Friberg has done very well and is definitely in the mix at center mid. O’Brian White also drew praise, said he’s one of the fastest guys on the team as a well-built 6-foot-2 forward. He raved about some draft picks, specifically goalkeepers Bryan Meredith and Josh Ford. He also said Servando Carrasco is doing really well and provides an alternative to Alonso in that holding midfield role. He said he might be most happy with returning veterans, like Riley, Zakuani and Alonso, who have matured, stepped their game up and are ready to put the team on their back.

— Asked about the leaders being young guys, Schmid said that’s how the evolution of the team has gone. Some guys that are under 25 years old have still been here from Day 1. Now those guys are comfortable in their roles and can start to demand more of their teammates. He said he’s as excited this preseason as he’s been since he’s taking the job.

— Asked about Fredy Montero, Schmid said he’s such a great player and goal scorer that you forget how young he is. He said the Colombian has done a great job of learning the language and adapting to the culture here. He said Montero is very self motivated and eager to take it to the next level.

— Asked about the Casa Grande facility, Schmid said it actually used to be the spring training home of the old San Francisco Giants — back in the day of Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda. Schmid said he grew up a Giants fan so it’s a little nostalgic for him. He said the complex is isolated, but it’s good. They can walk to the dining room, walk to the equipment room, walk to the field. It’s the perfect training location.

— Asked about the Pacific Northwest rivalry, Schmid said it’s going to be unbelievable. He’s gotten used to it quick by going down to Portland the last two years for Open Cup matches. He said the atmosphere is always phenomenal. He spoke to Vancouver coach Teitur Thordarson (which he joked he wasn’t sure he was allowed to do) and they can’t wait for the games. The spirit and atmosphere are going to be very European in nature, he said, and taking a bus to the games will be nice for a change.

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