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

April 16, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Sounders FC 1, Philadelphia Union 1, postgame quotes/stats

flaco philly.jpgPhoto credit: Drew Hallowell, Getty Images

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC head coach

(General thoughts…) “I think a tie was a fair result for the game. Obviously Ruiz scored a great free kick in the first half, but I don’t think either team created a whole lot of chances. They had some shots from distance but there weren’t a whole lot of chances. In the second half we weren’t generating that much so we switched to a 3-5-2. When we switched to that — I brought in Montero and Jaqua — I thought we got more offense created. I think based upon the last 15 minutes we deserved to get an equalizer. I thought we were creating more things up front. Even though we left ourselves open a little bit in the back, I think we were around the goal with two or three good opportunities — Fernandez before he scored, Montero had the flick header, Montero had another one where he should’ve shot when he looked for Jaqua. We had chances.”

(How big was that goal for Alvaro Fernandez?) “It was big. He and I talked this week. I tried to be very clear as to what I needed from him and what I was looking for. He responded well in training and I said, ‘If the opportunity presents itself, we’ll get you in.’ He came up huge for us. It was a good goal, and as a player, he’s a good pro.”

(On Fredy Montero coming back…) “It was good. Obviously he’s been out for two weeks and hasn’t been able to really train that hard, so his timing is going to be off a little bit, but he’s somebody that brings a presence and the other team has to worry about it.”

(Last year you had 90-degree weather here. Today you have the monsoon. How much did the conditions affect the game?) “Yeah, we think the next time we come here it’ll be a tornado or something — it’s got to have something unique with the weather. I mean it was the same for both teams. Obviously the wind was in favor in the team attacking towards the video screen. You got to play a little differently. When you play into the wind you can hit more long balls and the ball holds up, gives your forwards a chance to run under it, which we tried to do a little bit in the second half and had some success with that. In fact the corner that we won was the result of that kind of ball. But it’s the same for both teams so you got to deal with it. It’s not ideal, but each was the same.”

(On handling the grass surface…) “We have no problems playing on natural grass. We prefer playing on grass. We train on it all the time. I think for our game — although today wasn’t a great game for us — normally for our game playing on grass helps us, too, because it slows the ball down a little bit and sometimes at our stadium it gets really quick and fast. But we like playing on grass. That’s not a problem.”

(On Jeff Parke…) “I thought he was solid. I was just upset with him on the one play, when — I don’t know what happened — he was in a discussion with the referee and play kept going. Outside of that I think he’s been solid for us. He had toe surgery in the offseason and I think he struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year just trying to come back from that but he’s getting stronger each week, so we’re really happy with him.”

(How important was it to be able to start the same lineup two weeks in a row?) “It’s always important when you can put guys out there and establish a rhythm. Now you got Montero coming back into the mix as well, so you got to figure out how the pieces of the puzzle work together. We had already talked about it that depending on how the game goes we might go into a 3-5-2 and that might suit getting all those pieces onto the field. And today it worked out for us.”

STEVE ZAKUANI, Sounders FC midfielder

(On the last 20-30 minutes pressuring for an equalizer…) “I think the first thing is the goal had been coming because we had been putting a lot of pressure on them and Sigi, credit to him, threw on six or seven attacking players on the field. When you do that you’re going to give up chances in the back, but then create some offensively. Credit to Fredy and Flaco for coming on and giving us some energy. Nate as well. I just felt we just kept pushing and pushing and then Flaco came up with a goal — that’s a really big goal. We got it in dramatic fashion and we’ll take that point. It was a tough game today; the conditions weren’t the best for football. We just had to grind out the result. It wasn’t a pretty game but we’ll take that point and go back to Seattle. We haven’t lost in four games now and we’ll just keep building.”

(On playing against attacking wingbacks…) “Yeah, it can hurt you and especially on a day like today when the field was super fast and it was hard to control balls. You had to worry about just standing up straight because it was so windy and rainy. Philly had some good tactics; they like to attack so credit to them. But at the same time I felt that the goal was maybe a little bit soft in terms of the free kick given. I think Ozzie won the ball cleanly and he got a yellow card as well, which was harsh on us, and Ruiz puts the ball away. When they got ahead credit to them, they played well, but we bounced back. On the road it’s not easy coming here. Last year we lost the game here so it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Like I said, I think we were bold that we went for the game on the road throwing six or seven attacking players ahead and defending with just two or three. We tried to force the result and we got the much needed goal.”

(How big was that for Alvaro?) “On a personal level I’m sure it’s huge for him. No player likes to be out of the team. That’s no secret. He’s a great player. Like I said, on this team we have 17-18 players who can all play any given week. He came on, great header. He’s good in the air. He scored a goal like that for us last year. Very good in the air, we see it in training everyday. It’s a huge goal: 90th minute, gives us a point, the difference between losing the game and tying the game and the confidence is good. Everyone feels a bit better today. We didn’t play well. We’re not going to say we played well. I don’t think offensively we were sharp or created anything today. That shows a different side of our game, that we can pull our sleeves up, grind and battle and leave a tough place like this with a tie and go. Credit to Philly, a tough place to go, but we’ll take that.”

(On Montero coming back…) “Yeah we like Fredy and, like I said, another weapon in our artillery. Fredy came on and I thought gave us a lot of energy. He had a couple shots on goal. He ended up putting the cross into Flaco so he got the assist on that. He’s been out for a couple of weeks and obviously when you’re out for a while you start to get antsy and want to get back in. Great to have Fredy back, he played his part in the goal, so did Alvaro. All the guys that came on gave us energy and we needed it at that point because the game was a bit lackluster. Happy to have Freddy back and hopefully now we can have all our guys healthy.”

BRAD EVANS, Sounders FC midfielder

(On the conditions…) “Glad I missed last year (with the 90-degree heat), but this was a little bit different for sure. I also missed the trip to La Manga, the trip the guys took in preseason a few years ago, and they said that was pretty bad too. These were probably the worst conditions I’ve played in other than one time in Columbus. It makes for an interesting game. Free kicks like that generally won’t go in, but it seemed like every time Kasey was taking a goal kick the wind would pick up and it would just sit. It was tough to judge balls in the air and things like that, but to get out here with a point, that’s six points in a row now. I think it’s something we can be proud of.”

(On the guys you’re able to bring off the bench…) “I think it just shows depth of our team; anybody can play at anytime. I think people make a case for coming on and playing for sure. It can be a different team every week if we wanted it to, but I think something that will carry us farther is consistency — trying to keep the same lineup. If we’re getting points on the road — one like this feels like a victory, a little bit different than San Jose — but if we can keep that consistency and keep it going, keep getting points and build up, we’ll create the cohesion that the team needs to get to the next level.”

(You said it feels a bit like a victory, does that come from scoring in the 90th minute?) “I think so. Anytime you fight back on the road in these conditions, and against a team who hasn’t let in many goals, I think that’s something positive that we can take away from it. They didn’t create too many dangerous chances themselves also. I think our defense was good. They scored off the free kick, but other than that they didn’t have many chances and we created a few of our own. But yeah, the mood in the locker room right now is much more position for sure.”

ALVARO FERNANDEZ, Sounders FC midfielder via translator

(How important was this to you?) “It was good. We had a talk during the week and it was nice to be able to go in and score.”

(You created two good chances, what was your approach going in?) “We were behind, so when I went in I knew we needed to score. The first chance unfortunately didn’t go in, but thankfully the second one went in.”

(Have you played in weather like this?) “I’ve played in these conditions a couple times. The weather like that makes it more interesting, especially when you score in the last few minutes of the game.”

KASEY KELLER, Sounders FC goalkeeper

(On the impact subs…) “It’s what you want them to do, you get guys to come in and change the game. Jaqua did the same thing; he came up as big target up there that made it difficult for them to clear balls. Obviously for Alvaro, it’s great for him to get that goal and for Fredy to start to work his way back into the team off of injury. I think we’re very fortunate; we have a great squad, we’ve got a deep bench and if we continue to fight the way we did tonight and not quit, then things are bright.”

(On wearing blue…) “I was in blue because the referees were afraid that the black that I had (would clash) with their jerseys when they got wet and turned darker. You know this stuff is all agreed before we even travel; everybody knows what everybody’s wearing. That’s why I had a jersey with nothing on it. We had to get a couple jerseys from them because we didn’t have any.”

(Was the free kick deflected?) “Yeah, it was deflected. I’m not sure who it clipped off the wall, but it happens. That’s part of the game. It’s frustrating, but like I said, we didn’t get our heads down. We fought until the end and got the just reward. It would’ve been a real shame for us because I don’t feel it was a foul. I felt it was a great tackle from Ozzie, he got around him, he won the ball cleanly and I don’t understand why the whistle blew. Then to concede off of that is even more frustrating. But I think a point is a fair result. They had a couple better chances in the second half than we did, but we probably had the better chances in the first half.”

(On the conditions…) “It’s never going to be a pretty game and that’s what’s difficult. You know that once a ball goes up in the air it’s going to be moving all over the place and hard for guys to control. Sometimes when you’re going against the wind, they’re trying to clear pressure and everything is falling back to me. Then I can put it back down, maybe not all the way down in their other end, but I can definitely get the ball back into play for us. I think that was a big benefit and then when we got the big bodies on — obviously Alvaro and Nate — and those targets up front, then it was just a battle. It was a case of pumping balls in the box and making stuff happen. And they did. Alvaro got the reward on a great cross from Fredy. Great contribution from the bench and great for them having been out a bit.”

(On grabbing the result late…) “You know the old saying, ‘Draw games away and win games at home,’ and you’re in great shape. In these conditions and under the circumstances, I think we’re pretty happy with the draw. They were obviously content with the one goal and were thinking if they hit us on the counter then they hit us on the counter. But you got to love those late goals. You hate to concede them, but you love them when they go in for your team.”

FREDY MONTERO, Sounders FC forward (in English, no translator need)

(On playing for the first time in three weeks…) “It was good to be back on the field. I feel really happy because I don’t like to be on the bench. This is soccer though, and I had to come in and help the team.”

(On having to come in needing a goal and then getting it from Alvaro…) “I think it wasn’t a good game, but we scored at the end. It was good for us to get that goal. … I think it’s very important (for Fernandez) because he’s working hard. He wants to get back into the starting 11. It’s good for him. I’m happy for him.”

(Was it difficult with the cast playing against an opponent for the first time?) Yeah. I’m just thinking to protect my arm and in practice you can do that. But in the game you just want to play, score goals and help the team.”

PETER NOWAK, Union head coach

(Frustrated?) “Yeah. It’s important that we realize not to be afraid to score the second goal. It seems like we’re trying to manage that and also give players enough freedom to explore the options to move forward and to have a good possession game as well. In some capacity maybe it’s in the back of their heads that we’re still winning, but winning doesn’t mean that we need to go on the shelf and just defend. It’s just not going to happen. … We tried to encourage them the whole week and give them enough freedom in the game that in certain situations we’re going to keep the ball moving and we created some chances. I think we did a better job today, but we still, in the cases that we don’t see openings we’re supposed to see, and then all of a sudden we don’t have an idea where to go with the ball. … As I said, repetition, repetition, practice, practice, practice because it’s the only thing that’s going to get us better. On the other side of course, it’s a difficult way to play with the wind and also the rain. I didn’t expect to play a beautiful game, but still simple passes from A to B need to be delivered and we need to have an idea what to do with it. As much as we tried the whole week to work on that, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

(Working on defending set pieces…) “Yeah. It’s not an issue–it’s not the first ball. In the case of LA it was the first ball, but we need to concentrate better on the second and third. Seattle had the one chance also that was cleared of the line that was not the first one, but was the second and third. … As soon as the corner kick came, we cannot have guys like Montero having a free look and then deliver the ball inside. We’ve got to put pressure on the ball, and from this perspective it’s disappointing because we talked about it and worked on it and it didn’t happen today in a very important moment of the game.”

(Is it tough for Mondragon when he hasn’t seen much all day?) “I think from his perspective, from our perspective it’s difficult for the keeper and as you saw the ball was going every direction possible from the wind. I don’t think anybody can control something like that. … There was first not concentrated enough on the second ball. The ball bounced to Montero, we’ve got to make sure we put pressure on the ball. He played to Zakuani, back to Montero–we have to clean this stuff immediately so there was a goal scored.”

(On Okugo’s first start…) “He’s making big strides right now. He’s starting to show that he can play fast but he can still use the other midfielders and push the ball through. Fighting, and running, and his defense and shutting them down was pretty good stuff. As I said, having two defensive midfielders, you still have the ability to go forward. He got a good one shot today as well. … I don’t want to try to put him in a can and say this is what you’re supposed to do. They don’t need to be robots, they need the play the game as everybody sees it and everybody expects to play. Probably because of our late results, they still in the back of their minds think 1-0 is going to be enough. No. We’ve got to get second and third to finish the game and get a convincing win so we’re going to work on that.”

FARYD MONDRAGON, Union goalkeeper

(On his impression of the team’s strengths this year…) “I think we work very hard and it’s been a busy season so far. Everyone has been excited for what has to be done. I am very proud to have my defense.”

(On not seeing many shots on net this season so far and the goal scored today…) “I think it’s never quiet. The ball hasn’t come to me a lot but that is because of a very good job of my defense. We need to be very concentrated from the first to last minute. Anything can happen and the ball can get through the defense. Today was unfortunate; it was one of those things that can happen in soccer. It was a last minute ball, we just found ourselves in an unfortunate situation. That makes us feel bad as it’s a last minute goal, but I think the team played a fantastic game despite the weather conditions. We did a great job and had two or three good chances. We have to keep working as we have a very young team in order to protect the net for the last few minutes of the game as well.”

JORDAN HARVEY, Union defender

(On the balling bouncing around prior to Seattle scoring…) “We were dropping deep at times and we got a little unfortunate. It was a scramble of a corner. We have given up two goals this year off set pieces. We need to clean that up, but other than that we had a decent game. But we can’t give up a goal in the 90th minute.”

(On the comparison of the meaning of a tie/win this year vs. last year…) “We are disappointed the game was there for us. 3 points was there. You can’t give up a goal in the 90th minute regardless of any set pieces and we need to manage the game a little bit better.”

DANNY CALIFF, Union defender

(On the defensive confidence…) “I think we did a really good job today as far as a defensive unit. We can be proud of the performance we put in for the most part . I think if we could take something away this set… we would try not to drop into a shell as early as we did I think we could of sustain higher up on the field against them even in the later stages of the game even with the rain and the wind. We could have had 3 goals instead of just one”

(On sensing where the game was leading…) “I guess anytime you get results and not playing your best you can’t always feel when you start to drop. I still think it’s a big disappointment to give it away in the 90th minute, especially since we put so much hard work into defensively and done such a good job limiting their chances and coming up with good plays.”

CARLOS RUIZ, Union forward

(On the goal…) “Ah it was a nice goal; but in the end we didn’t win the game, and that’s very sad. I prefer to not score a nice goal but get the two points. We tied this game. We have to learn from our mistakes. Try to be better in the next game, but definitely nobody is happy about the result.”

(On the celebration…) “I was trying to celebrate the goal with all of the bench because everybody is part of this team. Sometimes the people just see the 11 guys who are playing or the substitutes, but everybody is on the same page. I was just trying to go to the bench and Peter was the first guy and we all celebrated together.”

(Offense as good as it was all season?) “You know what happens when we tie a game at home and win with just one goal everybody thinks the offensive line is not playing that good. That’s my department. I try to talk to all the forwards and get better and better, but it’s a team and sometimes we have to see what’s really wrong with the offensive part of the team. This week we’re going to talk and see if we had enough balls to score on and see what happened on chances and see if it’s our mistake or everybody’s mistake.”

* * *

SOUNDERS FC 1, UNION 1

Scoring Summary:

PHI – Carlos Ruiz 1 (unassisted) 32

SEA – Alvaro Fernandez 1 (Montero) 91+

Seattle Sounders — Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Fredy Montero 66), Erik Friberg (Alvaro Fernandez 77), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, Mauro Rosales, O’Brian White (Nate Jaqua 66).

Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Roger Levesque, Tyson Wahl, Patrick Ianni

TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Alvaro Fernandez 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Fernandez 2); FOULS: 17 (Osvaldo Alonso 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Steve Zakuani 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Mauro Rosales 2); SAVES: 3 (Kasey Keller 3)

Philadelphia Union – Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Caiff, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Kyle Nakazawa, Amobi Okugo, Stefani Miglioranzi (Danny Mwanga 59), Keon Daniel, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Justin Mapp 80)

Substitutes Not Used: Zac MacMath, Jack McInerney, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Roger Torres, Michael Farfan

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Sebastien Le Toux 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (four tied with 1); FOULS: 14 (Stefani Miglioranzi 3, Amobi Okugo 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Le Toux 1, Carlos Ruiz 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Keon Daniel 1, Kyle Nakazawa 1); SAVES: 0

Misconduct Summary:

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution, Reckless Tackle) 30

PHI – Stefani Miglioranzi (caution, Reckless Tackle) 55

PHI – Amobi Okugo (caution, Reckless Tackle) 65

PHI – Carlos Valdez (caution, Reckless Tackle) 88

Referee: Terry Vaughn

Referee’s Assistants:-Gregory Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer

4th Official: John McCloskey

Attendance: 15,149

Time of Game: 1:51

Weather: Rain-and-52 degrees

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