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April 5, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Henderson, Zakuani, Riley

henderson mug.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid continues to be under the weather, so he wasn’t available to talk today. Instead technical director Chris Henderson took questions from the group and had some insightful thoughts.

After the jump, be sure to check out Zakuani’s critique of his teammates’ Xbox commercial:

* * *

CHRIS HENDERSON, technical director

(Are you looking at what’s out there in terms of target forward?) “Yeah. I mean we’re always looking for forwards, among other positions. Last night I watched a game, and three games this morning, and those players happened to be strikers. I think most teams are looking for someone who can score goals, and that’s the name of the game is to score more goals than the other team. We looked at that. We’re looking at other positions too, but when you’re trying to improve your roster and get things going offensively it’s a position we look at.”

(On the possibility of someone coming in by summer?) “Yeah, I think there’s a good chance of that. I think it’s timing for players and it’s getting the right guy that’s going to fit on our team. There is that chance for sure before the end of the summer window.”

(On finding a way to get results…) “I think it’s a mentality and an attitude. Like I said earlier, you want to score more goals than the other team. And at the end of the year if you want to win the Supporters’ Shield you want to have more points. Sometimes it’s that experience of knowing what you need to do to manage a game to get the points or hold a win. I think doing things out here that can work on it. You’re in a certain minute of the game, what do you do? One team is up, one team is down. Those kind of scenarios get guys used to being in that position and there are certain things you can do to manage a game, manage a win or come back. Those are things on the training field we need to do. Also it’s a team mentality. We have enough guys — it doesn’t matter their age — with experience who can make the difference. If they’re not doing it, we have to find guys who can do it.”

(On figuring out the best midfield combo…) “I think you guys have seen it today. You’ve seen five or six guys rotate for a few spots. I think it’s looking at who’s in the best form, the best combinations, too. And it’s not always only the midfielders, but how the wide midfielder works with the wide back and those kinds of tandems together.”

(Is it hard to get it sorted out when it’s changing so often?) “It’s good that we have so many guys healthy. It would be nice if we could get Montero back in the mix and then we can really look at everyone for selection. But we kind of got to get ourselves out of where we’re at right now and I think if we can get a win it’s really going to help the team confidence and mentality.”

(On the shuffling lineups affecting the 0-2-2 start…) I think that’s part of it, but I think you see it with all the teams that end up going on a run and doing well: they find that lineup that works and you stick with it. You don’t want to change a winning lineup, but sometimes it takes teams a little bit to find that winning lineup. It could be because that guy is in really good form, maybe he’s playing this season with an injury, but it’s finding what it is that’s going to get the best out of each player. And I think our coaching staff does a good job of finding out what they need to do (to make a guy) feel good about himself, because so much of this job is the psychology and the mentality going into it. And if you believe you can do it, sometimes that little belief can make a difference in performing well.”

STEVE ZAKUANI, midfielder

(On making MLSsoccer.com’s team of the week…) “You don’t get anything for it so it doesn’t mean anything to me. You take it. I had it a couple times last year. It’s fine. You can take the acknowledgment but I would trade it in for three points. I don’t know what to say about that. It’s nice to be acknowledged in that way. I thought my form has been pretty good this season. Like I always say, I’m trying to take my game to the next level every time. I thought I had a good 60 minutes in San Jose, so if that’s being recognized, then I’ll take that.”

(On the team being long overdue for a breakout game…) “Not a breakout game, just the points. I don’t think many of us have been in this position before. Last year when we struggled a bit at the beginning we weren’t playing well so we knew why we weren’t winning. But we are playing well, the last two games especially: Houston and San Jose, over 30 shots in both games against two really good teams defensively. We are playing well but we’re just not getting the win. That’s the frustrating part. It’s a tough position to be in because we definitely should have at least I would say maybe 4-6 points, and it’d be a different story. At the end of the day if you drop the points now it’s probably better than dropping them toward the end of the season.”

(Are you 100-percent healthy now?) “I don’t think anybody’s going to be 100-percent during the season. I honestly think you go into every game with something wrong, maybe it’s a little knock on your knee or your ankle. You’re never going to be fully 100-percent how you are in the offseason. It’s just part of the game. You take little knocks. I took some today, it’s just normal. You carry them over tomorrow and Thursday, Friday, into the game. I think I’m definitely fit enough to play. Like I said before, I think the L.A. game was a game I rushed back for a little bit and it ended up costing me in the New York game. I didn’t play that game. But since then I’ve gotten training under my belt. My body feels fine. I feel good. I’d say I’m as close to 100-percent as I can be. I wouldn’t change this feeling.”

(On midfielder competition…) “I’d rather have seven capable guys than having just four and then one goes out injured and you have some issues. I think we have definitely lots of midfielders, lots of strength and depth there. Everybody brings something a little bit different. I think it just depends on the game. You saw this weekend, what Brad Evans for example gives us, no one else can give us. He makes his runs into the box. What Alonso gives us I don’t think anyone else can give us, not just on this team but in the league. I just think everyone brings their own little bit. That’s a problem for Sigi to have. I wouldn’t trade what we have now for having just four guys who can play, then maybe one goes down and the drop off is immense. I think we have seven good players. Obviously everyone wants to play — I want to play, we all want to play. We accept that some weekends we won’t play but we just come out on the training pitch and make sure you do enough to be in the starting team on the weekend.”

(Any reaction to your teammates commercial?) “Which commercial?”

(The Xbox one with Noonan and Keller…) “Yeah, we’ve seen that. I’m glad you said Noonan. (laughs) That’s the one guy I had issue with. It was a bit shocking.”

(Little stiff?) “Yeah, little bit stiff. Just a little bit stiff, but that’s Noonan, you know? That’s Pat. If you know Pat, that’s the way he is.”

(Keller was OK?) “Keller was OK. I’m not going to say anything against Kasey Keller. He was good.”

(James was smooth…) “James is like that. If you know James, that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s probably one of the top three dancers on the team.”

(Kasey was saying James does a lot of nightclubbing…) “Kasey’s right.”

JAMES RILEY, defender

(If forwards get hungry for goals, do defenders get hungry for clean sheets?) “Yeah, I think that goes without saying. I think every time you step on the field, defensively you want to keep a clean sheet — limit their opportunities for sure. The first goal was a bit not like us. Several guys made mistakes on that play, including myself. We allowed them to penetrate when we were numbers up in the back — that was definitely a dagger for sure. The second goal comes off our turnover but I think we can react better to it. He gets a good strike off, so nothing you can do about that. We’re learning from every situation, which is good. Kudos to our offense though. I thought they put San Jose under pressure in the first half. We had a chance to win a couple times even when it was 2-2. (We just have to) keep putting ourselves in good positions to win games. I think defense is team thing and the entire team takes pride in getting a clean sheet. Early on in this season we’ve been unlucky a couple times with 1-0 result against us. We’ll definitely try to do that on Saturday.”

(How do you rate how the defense has done so far, taking into account great goals scored against you?) “We’ve definitely had some spectacular goals scored against us. Pretty much all you can do is tip your hat to them and learn from it. But both goals came off giveaways, where they caught us on the break and were able to get a full look and a full shot off. Kudos to them they did well beating the defense and a top goalie like Kasey Keller. I think for us the main thing is learning from our mistakes. Giving the ball away definitely affects how we’re giving up goals. Like I said, it’s our reaction to that. As long as guys are trying to do the right thing you can’t fault them too much. That’s a collective thing. I could’ve stepped to the ball. We could’ve talked and squeezed it a bit more. You look at every goal and see your part in it. I think that’s good, continuing to be a student of the game. It’s early in the season, we’re look to eradicate those mistakes. Scoring two goals on the road should be enough.”

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