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Sounders FC

Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

March 13, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Schmid, Riley, Noonan, Keller

Lots of national media around training today, so some of these questions will look familiar. Either way, here’s the last bit of player availability before the season opener.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(Any scouting report on L.A.?) “Donovan. Beckham. Angel. Omar Gonzalez. Ricketts possibly in goal, maybe an injury. We pretty much know they’re an established team, they’re established. It’s not they are rookies stepping onto the field. We have a good idea on how they play as individuals. Whether they come and play a 4-4-2 or whether they play a 4-2-3-1 it really doesn’t matter that much.”

(On Steve Zakuani and Brad Evans) “They are doing OK. They are both making progress and we will make a determination tomorrow.”

(Do new forwards change the Galaxy attack?) “Yeah, in a subtle way. [Juan Pablo] Angel and [Edson] Buddle are both good in the air. Angel is probably technically a little bit better and stronger but athletically he is not going to run as much into the corners so it changes it a little bit. But with the addition of [Chad] Barrett, if Barrett’s the guy who plays next to him, Barrett does a lot of that stuff for him so it allows Angel to stay in the middle.”

(On Keller’s legacy) “In goal, he’s one of the icons of American soccer, for sure. What he did and what he established in going to Europe at a very young and being able to get himself through and continued to play overseas for a long time. He’s got World Cup experience. For me, in goal, Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller are the premier goalkeepers the U.S. has ever produced. Maybe Tim Howard will get into that group one day. If you have one of those guys in goal, you’re off to a good start. Kasey having been here has been a tremendous backbone to the organization and the team shape, as well.”

(On defending Landon Donovan) “You just have to have an awareness of where he’s at on the field. Landon is going to pop up in different areas of the field. Ostensibly he might start as a wide-left guy, but he could up end underneath the strikers, he could end up on the other side of the field. You have to be aware of where he is and you got to make sure you get pressure to him and make him play the ball to someone else. You want to force somebody else to beat you.”

(On defending Beckham) “It’s the same. He’s a good player. He’s good on set pieces so you don’t want to give one away. In terms of him hitting long balls, obviously you want to step up and not give him a chance to hit that ball. But then you take a risk that maybe he glides around you and hits a cross from a more dangerous position. There’s various ways to do it, again you just have to have an awareness on where he is on the field. This isn’t basketball. We’re not going to play a box-and-one or something like that.”

(On what you’re doing better in Year 3 having gelled as a group) “We always want to get better at it in terms of our cohesion and our ability to play together as a team. Certainly there are things that have developed in terms of automatization. Guys where they’re going to be. Guy have an idea of where Fredy Montero is going to show up. We have an idea of where Ozzie is going to be. Ozzie’s definitely progressed his game. He’s gone from being a pure defensive midfielder to a guy who can also open the game up for you with his passing. Those are things that have definitely been improved upon and have gotten better over the years.”

(Is there more at stake than just three points, considering the opponent?) “There’s a lot at stake because obviously they are the team that knocked us out of the playoffs so we want to come out and we want to play well for that reason. We also want to play well because it is the opening game of the season. We want to play well because it’s three points. On the same token, the result on Tuesday isn’t going to define anybody’s season. It’s the first game of a long season. It’s 34 games this year, not 30. Whoever walks off the field on Tuesday night a loser their season is not over and whoever walks off the field the winner their season is not secure and done either. It’s one of those things where I think there is a lot of hype around the game and deservedly so because these are two good teams and this is going to be an electric atmosphere.”

(On the feeling of First Kick) “I remember when I stepped out there in Year 1 and I had goose bumps. I was pretty amazed and everything else. I sort of got used to it, sad to say, a little bit. Not used to it in a sense that it didn’t thrill you, but used to it in the sense that you expected it to happen. It still gives you a great feeling. Stepping out there for the first time in Year 2, almost all the emotions from Year 1 came back because it’s the start again. It’s the beginning. I think the same thing is going to happen Tuesday night. ‘Here we are again. Here we go.’ It’s still an unbelievable story. It’s still amazing that this happens game after game.”

(On more urgency this season…) “It’s like I said before, it’s the MLS Cup. It’s not a body of work for your whole season. The body of work for your whole season is the Supporters Shield but people remember who wins the MLS Cup. People don’t remember who wins the Supporters Shield. When you look at the Cup winners, the Cup winners over the last two years, if my memory serves me right, they weren’t at the top of the table. A team that came together at the end of the year had a streak and won some games. What does that change in the opening game for you? Probably not that much. All that it changes is, as we’ve always said, the important thing is to get to the playoffs. If you get to the playoffs as the Supporters Shield winner, great. But if you don’t that doesn’t mean you can’t win the MLS Cup. It’s a matter of playing your best soccer at the end of the year and we want to make sure that we are fit so that we can carry it through, that we have done the right things in terms of our preparations. So if anything we have changed we have probably stepped up our fitness that we did a little bit in preseason so that we can, not glide or ease off, but so we can back off a little bit more at the right times so that we can push at the right time at the end of the year.”

JAMES RILEY, defender

(On what you’ve learned about teammates after three years) “We know (Keller is) fantastic at clearing crosses and he’s able to do that and take pressure off the team. Playing with Jeff Parke and Kennedy, you know they’re going to be hard and fierce on the tackle. Parke is more of the organizer, more of the vocal one with Keller. It’s just about preventing situations. We’ve seen a lot of situations but we haven’t seen everything. It’s all about building that relationship and that trust.”

(On Landon Donovan) “Fantastic player, obviously. A tremendous amount of respect for him. I think pretty much similar to last year in the playoff series. I know him and Beckham tried to double back on Zakuani and Nyassi, so without Nyassi we know to look to him to be more offensive. Different type of look; we’ll adjust that way. He’s definitely someone we don’t want to give space to. He can kill you by scoring goals. He can kill you with his speed. He can kill you with his assists and his vision. A total soccer player. We’ll definitely be up for the challenge.”

(On there being more urgency this year) “I think Sigi pointed that out the first day in our first meeting. He said this is a year of urgency and we’re treating it as such with practices and games. Obviously opening with L.A. is a fantastic opportunity for us, to open up the league. We’re looking forward to it.”

(On the Galaxy’s dangerous weapons) “They have Angel. They have Chad Barrett, who’s a proven goal-scorer. Beckham serving balls. Donovan. Juninho has been able to score goals and scored goals against us. They’re dangerous on set pieces. They definitely have a lot of weapons. On the same token we have a lot of weapons that are capable of putting balls in the back of the net, especially here at Qwest Field. I definitely look forward to a very fast-paced game, a very lively game and a great kickoff to the season.”

(Does this game mean more than just the three points?) “I think at home you always want to start out on the right foot. Definitely playing a quality team, Supporters’ Shield winners in the Galaxy, I think that would be kind of a reward for the preseason that we went through. It’s kind of a long and grueling preseason. At the same time (the season is) a marathon and not a sprint. We have definitely plenty of games still and we’ll treat it as such. But we definitely want to get on the front foot and use our fans to our advantage while we’re here at Qwest Field. We want to put on a show.”

(What do you remember from the home game against them last April?) “I know there was a refund and it wasn’t pretty. If you go back and look at it, we watched game tape and everything, if you go back and watch the first half I thought they scored their goal against the run of play. They were just clinical. They were effective. They scored goals and we didn’t. We had plenty of chance to do so, definitely in the first half. We didn’t and they punished us for that.”

(Any similarities between these Sounders and those Revolution teams you played on?) “Getting there. We definitely had a lot of characters on that Revolution team. We had Twellman, Shalrie, Matt Reis. Parkhurst was a young rookie like myself. Noonan was there. Steve Ralston was there. Daniel Hernandez was there. Clint Dempsey was there. It was a fantastic bunch. I don’t think we’re quite there with that veteran players yet. We’re definitely capable of getting there.”

(Can you bring the same type of attitude here?) “We try to bring that, Noonan and I. Just a lively bunch and just have fun. Definitely when it’s time to work, we work. When it’s time to have fun, we have fun. Kinda walk around and produce and have that swagger because you know you’ve put in the work on the training field and you know you’re fully capable of winning game. We’re getting there. Those were definitely some good years for sure with the Revs.”

(On how different the L.A. attack looks) “Definitely some difference. Angel is someone who is fantastic finisher, proven goal-scorer. Definitely have to have a man on him every time he’s in the box, especially with Beckham providing balls from anywhere. Chad Barrett’s a proven goal-scorer as well, works his tail off, gets into the box, fights. Then you have Donovan, who I think will be more offensive this time around. They’re a well-rounded team, nothing that we haven’t seen before. They have two additions up front but we think they’ll play somewhat similar.”

PAT NOONAN, forward/midfielder

(On the understanding this team has built together, something you can relate to maybe more with your experience in New England) “I know I wasn’t here the first year, but you get the highs and lows. You know what the team dynamic is when things aren’t going well, and we’ve had stretches of not doing well. Then you have the dynamic like when we want on that stretch at the end of the season. You kind of get the feel for how people react in certain situation and you get a feel for how guys are going to play in a game. We know that Steve, if he’s got five yards on a defender, I’m going to put it on his feet and let him run at him. Same on Fredy, if he’s in the hole, get it to his feet and let him go to work. We’ve you get 2-3 years together you get to know people’s personalities. How they’ll react to certain situations and that helps both with adversity and when things are going well, to keep even keel from getting too high.”

(Does this team have some shared characteristics with those Revolution teams?) “We have the talent. This is a very talented locker room. There’s a lot of depth. Even more so here than New England, is the depth. I know there are new guys and guys that haven’t gotten a lot of minutes in MLS, but there’s 20-30 guys that can step in and get the job done and help this team wins games, which is huge. And now with that understanding from those years together, you can get into a guy if he’s not playing well, even if he’s a veteran. That’s the way it’s got to be. You got to hold guys accountable on and off the field, so whether you win or lose you can come off the field and talk about it. We’ve got to hold each other to high standards.”

(Have you taken well to that role as a veteran?) “I like to be a vocal leader when it’s needed. I don’t like talking just to talk. I like to make it constructive. Sometimes it might come out aggressive, but sometimes that’s needed. You need to push guys and sometimes the same thing for me. Sometimes someone needs to get into me and say, ‘You need to be sharper out here.’ In starts in training and it translates into the game, and I think if everyone gets that mentality, come game day it’s not going to be a big surprise when the tempo is high and the atmosphere is intense. Everyone is going to have that experience.”

KASEY KELLER, goalkeeper

(On looking at your legacy) “I’ll look at that when the season’s over, but right now, the personal side of it is really getting myself the way I want to play to help the team. Yes, I’ll make mistakes this year like everybody else, but at the same time can I help make a difference for the team to win games? That’s what I’m going to truly judge myself on every time I step on the field.”

(What do you need to do to win tomorrow?) “Score more goals than them. Really, you need to minimize your mistakes. They have great players and if we can limit their good goal-scoring chances… If somebody scores a bomb, they score a bomb. You can’t do anything about it. You score something incredibly out of nothing and sometimes you just got to shake somebody’s hand and say, ‘Hey, you made the difference today.’ At the same time, can one of your guys do that? Can you do the little things? Can you get on the end of a set piece? Can you make that run into the end and get on the end of that cross? At the same time, don’t let their players dictate the game. They’ve got some good players, obviously with Landon and Beckham and Angel. You can’t let them get into a rhythm. Limit their chances and take advantage of yours.”

(You change at all with their changes up front?) “Zero. You think Buddle scored 18 goals for them last year. Angel will be very happy to get that many this year. They’ve had guys who have stepped up for them over the last couple years without quite making it all the way. I think consistently over the last couple years they’ve been the best team. They’ve been able to replace guys with great quality players that have stepped into the system very well.”

(What’s been the vibe in camp this year?) “It’s been a little bit different. I think this year in preseason, most of our preseason games were against MLS teams. Where in the past they weren’t. But the goal is to get out of that first round and see how far we can go. That’s everbody’s goal. This league has so much parity that anybody can get their run together at the right time, make it into the playoffs and go deep. We want to be a little bit more consistent. The first year we started out like a house on fire and had a little bit of a lull in the middle of the season. Last year we had a bad start and then a great second half of the season. Can we just consistently pick up points at home and on the road to challenge all year? That’s what I would love to see.”

(You do have 33 more games after this, but does Tuesday’s game mean more than three points?) “I don’t think so. It’s like anything. We’ve won our home openers the last two years in a row. We want to make it three. Yes, it’s against L.A., which has that little bit extra motivation because of the results last year. But for the most part, if it’s a bad game, it’s a bad game. It’s one game out of (34). Do we want to eliminate as many of those as possible? Of course. But at the same time it’s where we are in October/November that truly matters. I know it sounds cliche, but we just want to go out and play as hard as we can and get as many points this year as possible. As Sigi likes to say, three points in the first game is equal to three points in the middle of the season and three points at the end of the season. Just pick up points and see where you’re at come October.”

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