The coaches of the three Pacific Northwest rivals — (from left) Vancouver’s Teitur Thordarson, Seattle’s Sigi Schmid, Portland’s John Spencer — are currently taking questions from master of ceremonies Arlo White (second from left).
Previously there was the supporters’ summit with fans. Timbers owner Merritt Paulson and Adrian Hanauer of Sounders FC were on hand to address the issues of the fans, including away fan ticket allocations and the future of the Cascadia Summit.
I missed a portion of the summit to have a candid one-on-one with Schmid, who addressed concern that the team’s top four attacking players (Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani, Blaise Nkufo, Alvaro Fernandez) are yet to score a non-PK goal this preseason. There’s also concern over the trend of blowing a lot of scoring chances and allowing soft goals on a limited amount of the opposing team’s chances. Look for more on that later.
But to sum up: It is preseason, but there is concern.
Remember last year Seattle lost 1-0 to Portland in similar fashion as Friday night, as lost that way to New York and San Jose once the regular season started. Some highlights from the Q&A after the jump:
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SIGI SCHMID (easiest to understand with the quiet mic)
— About last night, said Portland played well and was the deserving winner. Said preseason is a continual process of building understanding with each other and while scoring hasn’t been good, the season opener on March 15 is the biggest concern.
— Asked about his overall philosophy, talked about being a team that wants to possess the ball. Later when talking about the rivalry, he said it’s tough as a coach in those high-intensity games to deal with anxiety and nerves. Said he’s looking forward to regular-season games, which will be special for soccer in the country for others to see soccer “how it’s meant to be and how it should be.”
— He talked about previous little rivalries with Houston, L.A. and Columbus, but nothing compares to this. Even Chivas-L.A. is nothing compared to this. Said Western Conference will be toughest in the league again.
— A fan asked a question on players going to Europe in the offseason (e.g. Beckham at Tottenham), Schmid said it makes for a long season and over time your body will break down. Good for young players to go over for a week or two.
— Said he’s against limiting youth soccer to one-year age groups. It stunts development and then there’s an adjustment when you play against older, bigger players for the first time in college or the pros. Likes that there are two ways to MLS, college and academies.
— He picked Zakuani as having a breakout year, despite already having a breakout year in 2010. He’s ready to make another step he said. Also, Osvaldo Alonso, could be in for a big year as he improves on being a distributor. Something he’s working on and getting better at.
JOHN SPENCER (hardest to understand, blame the Scottish accent)
— Reiterated a lot of stuff he said to the media the other night, about how you don’t come to Pacific Northwest for the weather. The atmosphere reminded him of Europe, mentioned Rangers-Celtic, which he got to experience as a player, I believe.
— Said they’d have to beat more than Seattle-Vancouver to accomplish team goals. A lot of USL Timbers are getting the chance to show what they can do. There will be no excuses this season.
— Called Nagbe the biggest surprise so far. Despite having surgery Friday, shown very well. Talked about the philosophy of, if you’re good enough it doesn’t matter how old you are.
TEITUR THORDARSON (kind of quiet, a little hard to understand)
— Talked about creating an MLS team and said a lot of work was done on that last season. When asked about rivalries, he said he doesn’t distinguish between the Cascadia rivalry and the Canadian rivalry with Toronto FC and Montreal in the future.
— Included Seattle among a group of best teams in the league, with L.A., Dallas, Colorado and others. Said his team hopes to make the playoffs this year as well.
— Asked about a surprise player and he mentioned No. 1 pick Omar Salgado, who the team is working on getting eligible. They’re crossing their fingers. Talked about Eric Hassli, one of the top strikers in Swiss league. He’s a big guy, 6-foot-4.
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Here are some pictures from training today. The starters did regen work after playing last night. The others worked on fitness with Dave Tenney, then some small-side scrimmage work (Miguel Montano and Pat Noonan with some nice goals). Lastly there was an 11v11.
One team was essentially the second string, which will surely play Sunday: D Zach Scott, D Patrick Ianni, D Taylor Graham, D Tyson Wahl, M Roger Levesque (filling in for Noonan, not sure who will play Sunday), M Erik Friberg, M Servando Carrasco, M Michael Tetteh, F Mike Fucito, F O’Brian White (no GK)
The other team was a little bizarre: GK Terry Boss (to get the work), RB Bryan Meredith (you read that right, his gloves were still on), CB Ezra Hendrickson, CB Invitee (sounds like Boss was calling him “Ichiro“), LB Chris Henderson, RM David Estrada, CM Mauro Rosales (no other CM), LM Miguel Montano, F Lamar Neagle, F Nate Jaqua