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February 17, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Sigi Schmid and Osvaldo Alonso

Here’s the full transcript of Sigi Schmid’s conversation with the media today. Lots of good stuff on a variety of topics. Also I transcribed the chat Osvaldo Alonso had with reporters, as translated through teammate Taylor Graham.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(Do people around the country grasp how important and how good Osvaldo Alonso is?) “I think Ozzie is probably one of the more underrated players in our league. When I look at the, like for example the Soccer America rankings of defensive midfielders, it’s a little bit surprising who some people hold ahead of Ozzie. I think anybody who watches his game day in and day out really appreciates what he can do. A lot of fans in the country I guess don’t have that opportunity.”

(On goals while training in Florida…) “To get a little warmer, that’s the first part of the plan. Obviously four games it’s more of a game phase, more of a playing phase. Fitness is always a part of the component in preseason but now the fitness is a lot more about just getting fitness in games and playing and starting to put together our game, getting the right defensive pressure at training results in the right ability to move the ball offensively and that helps our offense. It all goes hand in hand. It’s just a matter of now getting us playing, moving the ball and pressuring at the right times and working as a collective.”

(Are you concerned about your first unit not performing well so far in training games?) “No, it’s not a concern. There were a lot of guys who were pretty thrashed in terms of physically being thrashed. It used to be when I first came into the league they always had a preseason down in Florida and you had all the teams down there and whoever won that preseason tournament always got thrashed in the league. When you look at spring training in baseball you look at the teams who have the best spring training record and a lot of times they do terrible and the guys who are at the bottom in spring training end up winning the pennant. It’s the same thing in soccer. It doesn’t matter what we do right now. The results that matter begin on March 15.”

(On breakout players in 2011…) “I think we’ve got a few guys in that category. I think obviously Alvaro [Fernandez] being here is a candidate for that. I think Erik Friberg is another guy who is going to surprise some people. I think people are going to see the value that Brad Evans brings to this team. He maybe along with Jhon Kennedy [Hurtado] maybe have a chance at comeback player of the year when you look at the time they’ve missed. I think we’ve got a few candidates in that realm of players that can surprise some people.”

(On Fernandez getting settled here) “It’s going to definitely benefit him. He’s one of the guys too. With his family being away all last year, the World Cup and everything else, he really made good use of his time off by taking time off. For him physically it’s been a little bit more of a hurdle to come back but he’s making good physical gains and his best game play is still in front of him. His sharpness is still going to come. I think he’s somebody that with the family being here now, being settled and familiar with the situation, learning more English, that’s going to help him.”

(On David Estrada) “Obviously he’s one of the fitter guys on the team, so his energy is very, very good. He’s getting back to what I saw in his early years at UCLA, which is a guy who’s busy and active as he’s in the box. When you look at the goal scoring in the games that we’ve played, he’s got himself on the scoreboard a couple of times. He’s found himself in goal-dangerous situations because he is active. Last year was a little bit, ‘Let’s look at him wide right, let’s look at him up front,’ but he wasn’t quite ready. The main thing is he’s really internalizing things we’ve said to him and things we’ve asked him to do. He’s now putting that into his game. He’s simple when he needs to be simple more often and he’s using his energy at the right times. When he does that he’s a very dangerous player.”

(Where has he been most comfortable on the field?) “He’s probably most comfortable up front. Just like Lamar Neagle is most comfortable up front, but they both have an ability to be able to jump in and play wide on an as-needed basis. But I think both of them are most comfortable as strikers.”

(What have you thought of Lamar Neagle?) “It’s been good. I think the year last year helped him a tremendous amount at Charleston. I think Mike Anhaeuser did a great job with him, helped his confidence. Sometimes dropping down, just like with a Brian Ching when he came back to the Sounders that year then pushing back up really helped him. I think it’s really helped Lamar. He’s definitely a guy we have to seriously consider for this team.”

(What about Servando Carrasco?) “He is what he is. He’s a defensive midfielder who sits in there. He’s trying to watch Ozzie a lot and learn some things. Today at practice we talked about a couple things. Afterwards I talked to him about how it’s important to know when to be honest and when to cheat. As a defensive midfielder and as an attacking midfielder you got to know when you got to be honest defensively, when you can cheat defensively, and those are things that come with experience and timing and so forth. He’s got a great upside. He’s a great kid and works really hard. He fits in tremendously with the group.”

(What about the two rookie goalkeepers?) “I think they’ve both done well. We were very pleased that we ended with both those guys because they were on our list No. 1 and 2. We were happy to end up with both those guys in the regular draft and the supplemental draft. It’s been a very interesting battle between the two. As all rookies you sort of come up and down a little bit. So one day this guy is a little bit in front, the next day the other guy gets his nose in front — it’s been a back-and-forth. But we think they’re both learning and improving a great deal.”

(On USL Sounders carryovers, Graham, Scott and Levesque) “They’ve all been here for a while and obviously they’re experienced players and they’re experienced pros. They’ve got a great love for this organization and for this city, and that’s always a desire every time they step on the field they want to do well because this is their home as much as anything. Even if they’ve come from different places they’ve been here long enough that this is really home for them. We’re very fortunate as an organization. A lot of times what ends up happening in our league is as players get older they go into a salary category that you sometimes have to decide, ‘Well do I keep this young guy and get some cap room? Do I keep this guy that’s up there?’ We’ve been fortunate in that they’re experienced players but they’re cap numbers haven’t made that part of the decision-making process. So we have the luxury of maybe being able to hold onto somebody who if he’d been in the league eight years or 10 years at the age of 31 we might not have been able to hold onto.”

(Friberg jogged off, is he OK?) “He just felt a little tweak in the groin so we just pulled him out of the last series of games. I needed to pull one guy out anyway to make the numbers even, so he was the lucky guy.”

(On Sounders FC health…) “Everybody is making good progress. Our training staff, Dave Tenney has done a good job in terms of the fitness work we have given the guys and also in terms of injury prevention. [Pat] Noonan is back out there full out. Taylor Graham is out there full out. [Nate] Jaqua we are hoping gets cleared this afternoon. He’s just got to go through a series of tests which the doctor wants him to do which we think he’ll pass easily and then he’ll get cleared to be a neutral player, to do all those things as well. So everybody is making good progress.”

OSVALDO ALONSO midfielder (teammate Taylor Graham translated)

(On how it feels to get the deal done) “It’s obviously very important for me to stay in Seattle. It was something that I wanted to get done.”

(How long had you been working on this?) “We’ve been talking off and on in the offseason, but over the last month there’s been a little bit more back and forth.”

(Everyone knows about your defensive talents, do you want to get more involved offensively?) “Obviously I’d like to have more than one goal but I know what my role is with this team, and that’s mostly defensively. But when there’s opportunities to get forward and get goals that’s something I want to do.”

(What do you think of the team’s progress this season and yours?) “My mentality is the same as the team’s, and we just got back from a hard two weeks in Arizona where we were preparing not only physically but mentally for a long season. It’s a long preseason but I think it’s going well.”

(What about this team and city makes it the right fit for you?) “I’ve only been in Seattle the last couple years but I really enjoy where I live in Bellevue and where I’ve been settled that last few years.”

(Any plans to move on to another league in the future?) “Right now I’m only thinking about Seattle. If an opportunity presents itself in the future I’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. Right now it’s all about Seattle and MLS.”


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