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March 29, 2011 at 11:05 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Schmid, Keller, Zakuani

Manchester United dominated the talk today. No surprise…

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(On Manchester United friendly…) “It’s great. Obviously in Year 1 we played Chelsea and Barcelona and I think our fans sort of grew used to that. (Manchester United) is a club with the same caliber and the same level as those, maybe even has exceeded those clubs at certain times to a certain extent. It’s a great honor to be playing them. It’s something our team is looking forward to.”

(On strategy for the Manchester United game…) “We will see where we are at that point in the season. You can’t predict that now. You don’t know where you are going to be at injury-wise and everything else. A week later we are going to have a CONCACAF play-in game so we’ve got to look at all those factors. But it’s definitely one of those games where everybody wants to get on the field so it might be a situation where a group plays the first half and a group plays the second.”

(Is one friendly plenty this year?) “Yeah, I think it’s is enough. That was the intent of the business group was to make it one high-quality friendly rather than have a number of them that maybe aren’t at that same stature. I think this is a perfect compromise.”

(On upcoming game against San Jose Earthquakes…) “The challenge for us right now is always still scoring goals. We have finally proved that there is no cellophane on the goals. We were able to score the first goal. That broke the ice for us and we will be able to get more. We are very confident going on the road. We feel we are a good road team. We feel that in the three games we’ve played so far that we’ve done a good job in terms of creating chances in periods of the game. The last game against Houston we probably dominated the majority of the game so if we continue to do that I’m sure it will break our way.”

(Are you OK changing the lineup week to week or do you want to settle on one?) “I think you need to have a core group of players that you’re working with and dealing with. Sometimes it depends. If the team’s going well then you really don’t look at making changes. If sometimes something isn’t going well for one reason or another then maybe you got to tweak it here, or change it, or just wake somebody up sometimes.”

(On Chris Wondolowski…) “He’s been on fire. I don’t think anybody could’ve predicted what he did last year in advance. I think if all of us here were given a $100 and you could bet on that at 1,000-to-1 odds, you probably wouldn’t have done it. He’s been great. The two goals he scored last week against Dallas were superb. He’s on fire. He’s finishing really well. We got to keep him off the board for sure.”

(Was it just a matter of him figuring things out?) “Sometimes it’s a little bit of that. When you look at the history of soccer in other leagues, sometimes there’s a guy who just has a banner year scoring goals and never comes close to that again. Obviously the way Chris has started off this season with the two goals against Dallas it doesn’t look like it’s a one-year thing. Part of it is he figured it out. Part of it is he got sufficient playing time, to give him the opportunity. And part of it is he got into a team where there weren’t other guys they were looking for and he became the focal point of their game — and he responded.”

(On some guys jogging around: Evans and Parke) “They’re fine. Yesterday we trained pretty hard and we had a little but of what we called Tournament Day. So today we just wanted to back off on them a little bit in the final phase. They went through everything in practice up until the final phase when we said let’s back off on them.”

(On James Riley…) “James’ situation is still day-to-day. He still hasn’t been cleared to fully train.”

(On Montero) “Fredy Montero’s situation right now is also day-to-day.” [Ed note: I misheard Schmid on this answer and, as such, am not able to provide more info. Attempts to determine his injury/ailment were unsuccessful. Stay tuned.]

(On Leo Gonzalez, who took a knock) “We hope it’s not too serious. He stayed out afterwards and stretched and so forth. … He’ll come in for treatment, so we’ll have a better idea tomorrow.”

(On the San Jose pitch) “It plays tighter. Some fields play bigger; some fields play smaller. I don’t think the dimensions are any worse than some of the other fields. I think New England, once they get into football season, is probably the smallest pitch in the league. Their field plays a little bit tight, but it’s a good surface. The surface looked alright the first week. I know they got a lot of rain, so hopefully it withstood that game fairly well. But the surface is good, so I think we’ll be OK.”

KASEY KELLER, goalkeeper

(On Manchester United) “It’s final confirmation for one of the worst kept secrets, I think, in the last couple months. I’ve played Man. U a bunch of times and it’s always a good time. They’re one of the marquee teams in the world — great players, always demanding the best, with a manager that’s been there for so long and has been such a huge part of their success. It’s a great showcase for what we’ve done as a club, having Chelsea and Barcelona and now Manchester United. We just need Real and Bayern Munich and a few others and we’ll finish it off. But it’s cool. I think it’s great for our fans to see such a great team.”

(Do you play everyone in this one?) “Oh definitely. No question about it. This isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about experience and getting guys an opportunity to play against people like Ryan Giggs and people who have made such a great example of what a professional should be for so many years. Like I said, it’s going to be a great experience for our guys.”

(Some people thought three friendlies was too much last year, is one a good number?) “Especially with the addition of four extra games. Then you combine that with Champions League and everything else. I think it makes a lot of sense for the club from the marketing side, but also it’s not a burden to the players. I think the guys will be excited to play this game and kind of chalk that up to experience, that hopefully they’ll have that opportunity to play Man. United every year.”

(How did you fare against Manchester United?) “I don’t know what my total record is. I know I’ve beat them in cups. I know we won a game 1-0 at Old Trafford one time with Leicester City. Got my (butt) kicked one time, 6-1 at home. I think a lot of 1-nils, to be honest, and we lost. I think I lost 1-nil one time with Tottenham and a few other times. I didn’t play in a game, when I was with Spurs, I think we were winning 3-nil at halftime and lost 5-3. I didn’t play that one so I’m not taking any credit on that one. I’ve had some good results, but most of the time when you come up against Man. U, you’re going to lose. That’s why they’re at the top of the league every year.”

(Any favorite memories?) “Not many people are going to say they’ve won at Old Trafford. To be able to go there, win 1-0, have a good game and be able to help the team in that cause was a lot of fun.”

STEVE ZAKUANI, midfielder

(On Manchester United coming to town) “It’s great obviously. We’ve had Chelsea and Barca here before and I’d expect something similar. They’re a huge team, first in England right now, still in the Champions League, favorites to win the Premiership — so I just think it’s great. The fans are going to see some great players come in. I don’t have to name the players, their names speaks for themselves. It’s going to be fun for us. We’re still a pretty young team, so anytime you can match these kinds of guys on the same field, you know? For them it’s preseason, but it’s still an exciting time. It will still be exciting. We’ll get the fans out at Qwest Field and hopefully this time try to get a win.

(What do Londoners think about them?) “Obviously there’s always that rivalry. London has Chelsea, has Tottenham, has Arsenal, but I think there’s a respect for Man. U. They’ve been doing it for so many years. Their manager is probably the best in the game. You have to respect what they’ve done, year after year to compete at that level. It’s tough. We’re seeing the reality of that here: that it’s hard to come out every year and stay at the top. I think we respect them. As I was a kid obviously that was a team that I rooted against, but as I grow older I can appreciate what they have.”

(Anyone in particular you want to see?) “I think Paul Scholes is unbelievable. For years everybody knows Paul Scholes. He’s probably one of the most underrated players. When he retired from the English national team I remember the team went downhill for a couple years because he was such a key player. Even though he’s an old player now, I think just seeing him live and seeing what he does — if he’s there. He’s a great player. For someone like myself maybe someone like Nani. Someone I play similar to and just want to see what he does and why he’s so successful. I’d like to see them, but I could go through a whole list. There’s so many great players. As a team we’re going to want to match and want to beat them. It’s going to be fun.”


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