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April 25, 2011 at 11:43 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: James Riley and Kasey Keller

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgA couple interview transcripts from Monday. Kudos to a pair of stand-up journalists from The News Tribune and The Everett Herald for helping me with this one.

* * *

JAMES RILEY, defender

(You’re getting back to it without a friend and a teammate. What was today like?) “Yeah, it was difficult. I sent him a text right before we left for training, just saying we’re all with him and wish him a speedy recovery. Yeah, it’s definitely difficult when a good friend and teammate goes down in that type of fashion. We’ll all continue to send our positive prayers and vibes that way and welcome him when he comes back in.”

(On the outpouring from the league…) “I think people definitely respected his quality. He’s a fantastic, young, exciting player that was attacking-minded and liked to go at people. He was exciting that way and they know about the stuff he does in the community with his foundation, Kingdom Hope, and the appearances that he does. He’s been to the Boys and Girls Club with me and was gracious enough to sign autographs at my tournament last year, my 7v7 tournament that I put on. Just with different things like that I guess a lot more people are getting to know how well-rounded he is. That’s where the outpour is coming from.”

(You tweeted about consideration for how Mullan must be feeling. Could you speak to that?) “The Mullan thing, it’s probably a video I’ll never watch again, but I got reaction to that. He didn’t get a foul and then he kind of went after the next player that had the ball. So when you get to hear that obviously it’s unfortunate that that’s the circumstance. Obviously I think even from Zakuani to Montero to when we had Ljungberg, those were guys that just get fouled a lot, especially on our team. I think when Ljungberg was here he was leading in fouls and when Montero’s on the field he gets hacked down, when Zakuani’s on the field he gets hacked down. That is just the way teams play us, and obviously this was a grossly unfortunate incident that happened to Zakuani. And so obviously there has to be some consideration. I’ve played against Brian Mullan for the past seven years. I grew up hearing about him when I was in Colorado – he was a Colorado boy. I know that he plays with that kind of vigor day in and day out. I just think we all needed to decompress from the situation a little bit and come back to it with somewhat of a clear mind. I guess right now, I’m probably even and indifferent about the entire situation. I probably just need a bit more time. It’s one of those incidents where you don’t want to take too much or too little. We’ll keep it at that.”

(Did you see Mullan talk about how he’s made that tackle before and would probably do it again?) “I did hear that. I think you got to look at it two ways and be somewhat media literate when you hear those types of things. He’s just saying that he plays hard. He apologized to Zakuani on camera as well. Again, you just have to be kind of media literate with that one. He plays like that. It was an unfortunate incident. I think he was going in to get a piece, obviously, and win the ball and send a message early in the game. The way it happened was obviously unfortunate.”

(How do you guys move forward?) “Obviously it’s tough. Not only from just his output offensively, but just having him in the locker room. He’s a young guy that’s fully capable of playing at a high quality in this league and beyond. He’s always laughing in the locker room with me and messing around with other guys and stuff like that. You’re taking away a fantastic teammate and a presence in the locker room and on the field. We’re trying to move on as easy as we can. Obviously it’s difficult so we’re going to take it a day at a time. To be honest we haven’t even really talked about it a lot today, got to just try to move on as normal, but that’ll be difficult. Once he’s able to get back into Seattle obviously guys will go and visit and be able to hang out with him for a little bit that way. Right now we’re just trying to take it day by day.”

(Was there a different feeling at training?) “Obviously there’s a cloud over us for sure. We just lost one of our best attacking players and a great teammate, so I definitely think it was a little of a different vibe at practice. But we’ll try to get along with it as much as possible.”

(Is MLS too physical?) “I was thinking about that. You think back and teams that are able to play physical and get away with it and not get carded a lot — especially not get a lot of red cards — have predominantly done well in the league if you go back and look at MLS Cup champions in the past. We know that Zakuani was a target, Montero’s a target, Ljungberg was a target when he was here — just offensive-minded guys are definitely going to get chopped down a lot. It was just an unfortunate incident. That’s MLS for sure. It’s just a very fast, physical, athletic league and that kind of just comes with the territory. It’s unfortunate.”

(Do you think most players understand there’s a line that you have to be aware of?) “Absolutely. I know I’ve never hurt anyone to that extent. I know it wasn’t fully intentional. I think the outpour for Zakuani is because there is a mutual respect for the people you go up against. Obviously I want to win my duel and other guys want to win their duel against the player they’re going up against. I think the outpour from fans and other players around the league is when you step on the field you do kind of have that mutual respect for guys. You want to get stuck in and play physical and do your bit, but you never want to hurt someone to that extent where it could possibly be career-ending and things of that sort. I think there’s a line and guys know it. I think goes know it.”

(As the game went on, was there less of an edge to it?) “Yeah, I think so. To come back from something like that is difficult for both teams. I think for our team especially, how we reacted probably wasn’t the best. That’s why we’re having a team meeting and watching the video on how we played the second half of the game. I even think so a bit today at practice. Guys were a bit on their tippy-toes and not getting stuck in as usual. The pace of today’s practice was still sharp but as far as tackles and stuff like that, because the field was wet, guys were a bit more hesitant.”

KASEY KELLER, goalkeeper

(Is it hard for the team to bounce back psychologically?) “I think a little bit. Obviously it’s a lot harder for Steve to move past it psychologically. It’s just a tough thing. You never like to see players get injured, but of course you don’t like to see them get injured in situations like that where it’s so blatant and just kind of a disregard for personal safety. It’s just a shame, but Steve will bounce back. I’m sure he will. It’s going to be a tough few months and I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll be back for the playoffs. Hopefully it’s a good quick recovery, but it’s difficult and we’ve got to move on. Obviously he was a huge part of our team over the last amount of time he’s played. I think he’s been responsible for 40-percent of our total offense this season alone, so it’s going to be tough, but we have guys who need to step up and prove their worth. It’s a good opportunity for them, but a huge loss for us.”

(Do guys have to rise to the occasion?) “I hope so. You’re here. You’re a pro. You want to get that opportunity. Obviously it’s under difficult situations and you never hope for someone to get injured, but at the same time when the opportunity arises you have to take advantage of that. It’s time for that, but at the same time, as a pro, you know that if you don’t take advantage of that the club will go find somebody who hopefully will, and that’s just part of being a pro.”

(Have you seen injuries similar to that before?) “Oh yeah. I’ve been involved in a few and part of a few. It’s always difficult. Tough challenges are tough challenges, somebody gets rolled up underneath you or something happens. When it is something where it is so blatant, that’s even harder to swallow.”

(What was the mood today in training?) “Cold. I think the tease from Saturday made it even more cold. We know we played very, very poorly in Friday night’s game, and it’s something we need to do better at. That’s the worst we’ve played, but in saying that, we win 1-0, so maybe there’s a little bit of a silver lining there. But if we play like that too many times were going to take a big number, and we need to improve, and we need to learn how to do things a little bit smarter.”


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