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April 1, 2011 at 6:24 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Sigi Schmid and Kyle Martino

schmid martino.jpgHere’s the quick transcript of Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid’s chat today after training. I’ve also transcribed a phone conversation I had with FOX Soccer analyst/broadcaster Kyle Martino the other day (touching on Seattle’s 0-2-1 start, Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso and more). The picture is stolen from his Twitter account.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(After the 0-2 start you said judgment should be reserved until we’re four or five games in. Saturday marks Game 4, so is there some urgency heading into this one?) “I think we just got to let the team play. I think we haven’t played bad soccer. We have to continue to play good soccer and get the results. If we had a couple results right now everybody would be fine. It’s important that we don’t create a state of ‘panic’ was the word I used. It’s just we got to maintain our belief. I think we need a win or two to get our belief and believe in what we’re doing. Guys are getting healthier. Nate Jaqua is getting closer to being able to start for us down the line. So there’s a lot of progress being made that way. Right now we’re sitting here, and Columbus was second in their conference last year and they haven’t won a game yet. [Ed note: Obviously he said that before the Crew’s 2-0 win Friday night] Dallas was Western Conference champions and they haven’t won a game yet. We’ve put so much pressure on ourselves as a franchise because our expectations are so high that sometimes the pressure is over the top a little bit. I think we just got to let guys play and relax. If we’re not playing good soccer, then obviously we have to look at that and we’ve got to make changes and make adjustments. If we continue to not score goals, we have to look at that, look at different people and make adjustments as well. We’re starting to do that. Now it’s a matter of the one goal went in so hopefully more will follow this weekend.”

(On Fucito and Montero…) “Fucito is out for this weekend. The ankle swelled up on him. Montero looks likes he’s probably out this weekend because in the surgery they actually found an old break in there as well as the new one. It was a little more than they had expected, so based on that they’re thinking maybe not this weekend. Again, they wanted to see how we came through today. There’s a possibility he could fly down tomorrow with that group. It looks less likely than possible at this stage.”

(If Montero isn’t able to go, it seems like you have options…) “We have different options that we can play with if Montero can’t go. We’ve got Rosales who can play in that position. We’ve got Zakuani who can play there. We could decide to start Jaqua and come with Jaqua and White up there. Estrada has done well for us in games recently — reserve games — so he’s an option. Fernandez coming in again on the flank, allowing us to push Zakuani up. There’s a number of different ways we can go. We’ve talked about those different options.”

(On Wondolowski…) “He’s on fire for them. I think he’s scored their last 12 league goals or something like that. He’s just been in great form. His finishing was impeccable against Dallas. They’re playing sort of a 4-5-1 — sometimes he’s up front, sometimes he’s coming out of midfield. It’s hard to get a handle on him, sometimes defenders lose him and he’s made them pay the price when they lose him.”

KYLE MARTINO, FOX Soccer broadcaster/analyst

(The Sounders have been a tough team to figure out so far. They came in with these high expectations and are 0-2-1. Certainly they’ve played better than the record indicates, but what do you make of them?) “The Sounders are a tough one to figure out because from the moment they came into the league they were a very exciting team to watch. They’ve got star-caliber players, they play an attractive style of soccer and they’ve been right on the cusp of breaking into trophy-winning positions. They’ve done well in the Open Cup and it hasn’t translated to MLS Cup. This season was I think that year that everyone around the league was waiting for Seattle to come out of the gates and sit up at the head table with Real Salt Lake, the L.A. Galaxy and some of the team that have had success and that everyone’s excited about. They just came out of the gates a little slow. I think part of it is being a little bit unlucky. In the first game against L.A. they outplayed them, and L.A. had a backup goalkeeper have a lights-out night and come up with some very big saves. Then against the Dynamo they had a ton of chances, let up a goal against the run of play and were just unable to get that break. I still highly rate Seattle. I think they’re a very deep, talented team. I think they have one of the best midfields in MLS.

“The big question is going to be, they’ve struggled to find a partnership with Fredy Montero that leads to lots of production. Fredy being such a talented player, and having the attention that he has on him, the bar is set really, really high. Unfortunately with that talent and the bar being set really high, there’s going to be critical eyes on him. So far they need more out of Fredy. They need not only more out of him individually, but for him to be a guy that gets them goals in those hard games where they’re creating a lot of chances. He’s been a difficult person to find a partnership with, to find someone that makes him better and someone that he makes better and someone where it clicks and they work for each other. I think until the Sounders find that natural pair for him, whether or not it’s O’Brian White or Nate Jaqua or whoever, until that relationship is gelling I don’t think the Seattle Sounders will reach their full potential, which is frustrating because they can be such a good team.”

(On Montero’s lack of production…) “Part of that is definitely on the partner, but the majority of that is on him. He needs to understand if you want to be the star, if you speak out and ask for star money then you need to produce star performances on the field consistently. He hasn’t really done that yet. To be fair to him, he’s created some good chances. He’s gotten shots on goal and some opportunities and goalkeeper have kept him out of the net. But here’s the thing for Fredy, he’s going to end of up scoring goals and ending up being a dangerous player. For him, the big question mark around him has been, if he’s not scoring goals, is he helping the team? I think that’s something that as a DP, you need to prove to your fans and the league, that when I’m not hitting the stats, scoring or getting assists, I’m still making a difference in this game and being a handful for defenders to deal with. I think that’s the big issue, because the goals will come for him because he’s a very talented goal-scorer. If the goals don’t come it’s really going to be a problem because that’s what earns you the big dollars. The goals will come for him because he’s getting in the right spots, but the thing I expect to see from him — and the whole league and the Sounders fans, who are so loyal — they want to see that when the game isn’t going his way and he’s not getting goals and assists, they want to see him doing everything he can to make a difference in the match and making the players around him look better.”

(As a former player turned analyst, what do you make of a team blaming finishing? How long does that hold up before it’s a symptom of a bigger problem?) “It’s sort of a paradox. You can say, ‘I’m so glad we’re creating tons of chances and we’re not finishing, but that’ll come.’ There’s a time when you can no longer be satisfied with only creating chances and realize your finishing problem is a big problem. I think it’s too early to say O’Brian White is not going to cut it. I think it’s too early to say Fredy Montero isn’t going to be the DP we’re all expecting him to be. I think the lack of finishing is definitely a mental thing as this point, just being so anxious to get the monkey of their back, to get the win, to get the big three-goal game that they’re a little bit anxious and a little bit flustered in the final third right now. They’ve gotten some really good opportunities and are putting themselves in the right areas to get on top of teams early. I think their frustrations with how many chances they’re able to create and lack of production is showing in that mentality where they get close to the goal and say, ‘This has to be the moment we get a goal, because we’ve had so much trouble scoring.’ It’s something I don’t think anyone should panic about or worry about at this point, but if they go three or four more games and we see them creating a bunch of chances but not being able to find the back of the net, then you’re getting into an area where you have a finishing problem that might call for a personnel change.”

(Everyone around here raves about Osvaldo Alonso, but what is his reputation nationally?) “If he’s not respected around the league, he should be. I’ll give it away right away, he’s on my fantasy team. I think he’s one of the best center midfielders we have. I consider him top three in the league. He is a full, complete player and if I was building a team tomorrow — if I was the GM or head coach — he would be the first guy I’d be looking for. He’s honest. He’s hard-working. He does so much defensively, but then when you see how calm he is on the ball, his ability to distribute and then you see his ability from outside the 18 to take long-range shots — he just gives you so much. I think if Seattle is able to keep him in a Sounders jersey long-term, the future looks bright for that franchise. That’s the type of player at the center of the park that causes you to pick up your game because of how hard he’s playing.”

(On the fans getting antsy after three games…) “For Seattle it’s so tough. When you step into that stadium and you see the support from the fans, and you watch them knock the ball around and see all the skill on the field, and you see how organized they are because of how detailed Sigi Schmid is, you say to yourself, ‘Why on earth isn’t this team dominating MLS?’ Right now, it’s too early in the season to be overly critical, but if this continues on, a lot of question marks are going to be raised. There’s no reason this team shouldn’t be one of the hardest teams to beat in Major League Soccer.”


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