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May 3, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid quotes from Tuesday

schmid mug.jpgSchmid held a lengthy teleconference today with several Seattle-based reporters and one national media member. Here’s the transcript of that chat:

* * *

(Is anything new health-wise or otherwise since we last saw you?) “No, we’re basically the same. Rosales is doing better. It’s still a little bit of a game-time decision with him. Outside of that we really didn’t have any injuries. Jaqua got through the game OK — he feels fine, because it’s been a long time since he’s started. And outside of that we’re OK.”

(To what extent will the team try to ride the emotion of last week? Or will you try to get back to normal?) “The emotion was there because we were able to play at home again, and obviously it was our first game without Steve and without O’Brian, so there was emotion there. But we also wanted to bring the emotion; we wanted to motivate our fans as much as they motivate us. We wanted to establish that, so that was the emotional standpoint from us. For us right now it’s the same approach as we always go into on the road. We feel we’re a good road team. We go into road games with the game plan of trying to win the game. We never go into road games with the game plan of hoping to hang on or hoping to only snag a point. I know on the last road trip I said, ‘Well if we can get a win and a tie, I’ll be happy,’ but we go into each game trying to get a win. Our approach is the same as it’s been. We want to continue to build upon what we did well in the last game, when we had a very good cohesive team effort, not only offensively but defensively.”

(On juggling the lineup with two games this week…) “You sort of gauge it. You see how players are recovering and you see how they feel. We got here last night and after the flight we went out and trained a little bit. Everybody got through that OK. Everybody felt a lot sharper today. Overall we feel pretty good. I don’t think there’s anybody going into this game that we have to say, ‘Well we have to rest this guy or rest that guy.’ So like I said before, a lot of times when you’re in the rhythm of playing games you feel good about that and players sometimes don’t have a problem. The timeline between Wednesday’s game and Saturday’s game is a shorter timeline than between our Toronto game and tomorrow. So the chances are greater if we rest some people or we feel that some people aren’t recovered it would probably more impact the Columbus game than it would the game tomorrow.”

(Do you think your record after eight games fairly represents your team?) “Everybody does power rankings, from the league to all the different blog and sites, and in most of those power rankings we’re fifth. I think Josh might still have us ninth or 10th, but I think we’re fifth or sixth on most of them. Everything sometimes goes around and around. You never really know. At the end of the day you want to be in the playoffs. We’ve always felt we’re a playoff team. I think we’re in that position now. Winning tomorrow night would give us the identical record to L.A. after nine games. People I think at the start when we lost to them 1-0 everybody was saying, ‘Well, there’s a playoff team. Hopefully the Sounders will be as good as them.’ And I think we are as good as them, and I think we’re as good as anybody else in this league. I’ve always felt that and I’ve always believed in the team that we put out there. For us right now, is this a fair reflection of where we think we are? Yes it is. I think as you play the amount of games and you play the different teams, you get a good feel of how you compare. Even after those first two games we always felt we were a team that was comparable to any of the top teams in the league. But after two games we had zero points so we really couldn’t say much.”

(Do your past results at RFK matter? Help confidence?) “Having past successes away from home builds your confidence playing away from home. I think the Open Cup win here was obviously a very big win for our confidence as a road team, and our record on the road after that win was obviously very good that season. I think that helped build our belief into Year 2 that we’re a good road team. So, yeah, those wins help. Do they help in a particular stadium? Not always, but certainly when you walk out onto the field you feel good about it. When I coached Los Angeles I always felt good going to RFK, but that was because we had one of El Salvador’s most popular players, so a lot of times the fans were almost more in our corner than theirs — so it was always a good feeling to play here for that reason. But obviously it’s been a good stadium for us. We want to maintain that, but I’m sure that’s something that Ben Olsen is going to be talking to their team about, because he’s as aware of it as everybody else is. But winning on the road builds your confidence; winning in a place gives you confidence to go back and win again.”

(Would you still be happy with four points out of the two games?) “I think you’re always happy with four points when you go on the road. If you can get a win and a tie, you’re happy with that, but that’s not what we go into each game with. If we tie the first game, we want to win the second one. If we win the first one, we want to win the second one. We go into each game wanting the win, but at the end of the day, if you walk away with a tie and win in two road games, that’s good.”

(Sorry if you’ve answered this already but what’s the status of Rosales?) “That’s going to be a game-time decision. He feels good, went through training and he feels better than he has felt. So we’re just going to see how it is and just make sure it continues to progress, because we don’t want to do something that’s going to jeopardize him for a longer time. So we’ll see how it is.”

(On how Rosales has integrated to the team and the league…) “For Mauro, understanding MLS play is easier than it is for some players that are coming from South America or Central America, because he has spent some time in Europe. Having gone through training in Holland, having gone through the Dutch league, seeing that there’s a different type of approach to training and a different mentality sometimes in game, I think he understood that. So I think his adaptation to MLS has been quicker than for some players who come directly from South America. He’s fit in great with the team, he’s a good character. The guys really enjoy him and I think he’s done well.”

(On Evans leading the team with three goals and Keller’s goals against average at 0.88…) “Obviously as a team we want to be able to go through a season and give up less than a goal a game. I’m sure that’s Kasey’s goal, and that’s also our goal as a team — a team defensive goal. As I said after the game against Toronto, some of the goals that have been scored against us have been goals of the week — the Khari Stephenson goal, the Juninho goal in Week 1. So we’ve had some pretty good goals scored against us. I think Kasey has certainly come up big for us in a couple of games for sure and helped us salvage some points and made some great saves. So he’s continuing to play at the top of his game, and that’s something he wanted to do. I think he stated that a number of times that he didn’t want to lose his game, then retire. He wanted to be on top of his game, and he’s still on top of his game. Brad Evans, is he going to be our leading goal scorer at the end of the year? I probably don’t think so, but if he was, I wouldn’t be disappointed, because that would mean other guys are getting a lot of goals too. Again, Brad is a player that sometimes divides the public, because it doesn’t always look as smooth and as skilful as maybe it looks with Montero or somebody like that, but at the end of the day you measure effectiveness, and certainly he’s an effective player. As a midfielder, the ability to score goals is important and him now, and Flaco, who has gotten a couple of goals playing as a midfielder, when you look at that and you take away Brad’s penalty, that’s four goals from your midfield from the run of play. If you’re getting a goal every two games from your midfield, that’s a good sign from you team.”

(Did he decide to take the PK, or get it through competition in practice?) “We sort of established that last year, and we usually put a couple of names down before the game if there’s a PK, and he was one of the names. At the very beginning, usually I let the players decide and the team decide, and since we struggled for so long trying to score penalties, we decided we we’re going to take a good hard look at it and decide who we thought were the best guys. So the guys that we think have been the most consistent in the times when we take penalties are the guys that we usually put down.”

(Are you concerned that you’re having to tap into your attacking depth this early in the season?) “Well obviously you never want to lose the players that we’ve lost at this stage. You want to hold onto all of your players. But this is why you have a team, it’s why you have a deep squad, and it’s why the depth of a team is very important, because you never know who you’re going to lose. The year we won the title in Columbus, Brad Evans was not the starting central midfielder, it was Adam Moffat. Adam Moffat did his ACL and Brand Evans came in and replaced him and we went on to win an MLS Cup. So sometimes those things happen, and there are similar stories that I can tell you over all my years of coaching where you lose a key player and then you go on to win a title. My title in ’97 at UCLA, Sasha Victorine, who was one of our key players, went down with an ACL, and without him we went on to win a national title. Pete Vagenas didn’t play in our last two games to win that national title. So sometimes you just go through it; everybody lifts there head a little bit, puts in a little more effort. So I’m pleased that we have players that we can rely on that can step up and play. Obviously the one thing it’s maybe changed for us is that we’re very happy with O’Brian White, and we were very happy with Nate Jaqua, but with O’Brian going down, it probably has us experimenting less with Roger as an outside back and letting him go up front, because he’s the next guy who can sort of play as a target forward. Fucito can, but he’s more of a runner. So that’s the only place where maybe our depth now isn’t as deep as it was two weeks ago.”

(On Alvaro Fernandez shaking off early struggles and producing recently…) “It’s a tribute to him. It’s a tribute to him as a professional and as a player that gets motivated. The ultimate motivation for any player is sitting next to me. I don’t know, maybe I have body odor or something. They don’t want to sit next to me. They want to get out on the field and that’s good. He definitely responded to that and he’s done well. The next challenge for Flaco and this stage, as it is for every player, is now to consistently put out those performances. I think he came of the bench in Philly, scored the goal, and that was important for us. He came off the bench in Colorado was so-so and then had a very good game against Toronto. What I’m really looking for, and something I’ve talked to him about, is we’re looking for that consistency, game in and game out. This is what I want to get. This is what I can rely on. That’s the next aspect of his game that he’s got to put out there, but certainly if the Toronto game is the indication and the measure, that’s a pretty good standard.”

(After a 0-2 start despite playing well, how important to get wins even if not playing your best?) “Obviously it’s a great feeling when you play well and get the win. But at the end of the day … you probably feel better about getting the win and not playing well than you feel about playing well and not getting a win. On the same token, I always say you can’t get too high and you can’t too low. So if it doesn’t go your way you have to look at, ‘Are we doing the right things? Are we going about it in the right manner? Are we trying to do the right things on the field?’ and if the answers to those questions are, ‘Yes,’ then you keep plugging away because you know eventually things will even out. I think that’s what it has done for us. Certainly you always prefer points over style points because at the end of the day points are what get you to the playoffs, and that’s something we hope we can continue to do.”

(Do the doctors have a better idea now of what causes O’Brian White’s blood clot?) “Yeah, I think they have an idea. I can’t really (explain it) because I’m medically not able to really indicate what that is. It’s also a situation that there’s still a couple more tests that they want to do to be able to finalize that. I think with one of the tests they need to do they need to give O’Brian White another week because of the surgery to remove the clot it’s still a little swollen and it keeps him from fully extending his leg. Once he’s got full range again and he’s recovered from that initial clot surgery then they’ll be able to do the final tests. They think they have an idea right now but I don’t know if they’re able to say, ‘This is what we think caused it, 100-percent,’ at this stage.”

(Is it premature to say season-ending?) “It’s all premature at this stage. It’s one of those unique things, sort of like Mike Fucito’s injury last year. It’s something that people haven’t seen a lot of. What O’Brian is going through is something that in consultation with other teams in our league, with other doctors, everyone is like, ‘I’ve never seen this.’ Everyone keeps answering that way so we’re sort of going through it for the first time and we’re becoming the standard bearer for other teams. If some other team goes through this they’ll be calling us and saying, ‘How did this work?’ We went through this a little bit with Brad’s injury last year, with Fucito’s injury and now we’re going through it again. We were talking about it the other day, myself and Mike Morris, the doctor, how we’ve had three pretty strange injuries. It’s not that we’re trying to be coy or trying to be deceptive and this stage or not trying to release information to our fans. At this stage we really don’t know. If I told you he’d be out for the season that would be a guess. If I told you he’d be back in four months that would be a guess. And if I told you he’d be back in a month that would be a guess. At this stage we know he’s out for the immediate future and once we can definitely say this is what caused it, then develop a plan and then develop a return-to-playing-status plan, everything right now is premature.”

(On Charlie Davies and his comeback…) “I know Charlie a bit because he was on my squad when we qualified with the under-20 team in 2005. I don’t know all the details of the injury he had — the injuries, he suffered more than one — in that car accident. It just takes a while. It takes a while to come back, but not knowing the full details I can’t tell you how long. I know he’s saying he’s close to being fully back but in my mind he’s probably still five or six months away from being the Charlie Davis that he was. It’s not because he’s not physically maybe back, it just takes those 5-6 months of game time, game sharpness, your body getting used to the game pounding. Pounding in a game that your body takes is different than the pounding at practice or running straight ahead. It’s the equivalent to me if you’re fit to run marathons and you go jogging all the time and you try to play tennis or do something else and all of a sudden everything hurts. It’s the same sort of thing. He’s done all the things you do for your rehab, he’s practicing and he’s practiced a lot, but now he needs that final sharpness. And based upon the amount of time he’s been out it’s going to take another 5-6 months to get that final, final game sharpness.”

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