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May 10, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Sounders FC quote sheet: Schmetzer, Montero, Graham

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgHere are some transcripts from Tuesday…

* * *

BRIAN SCHMETZER, assistant coach

(You have a great history with this rivalry, is it peaking?) “I think it’s peaking. I think the amount of energy and enthusiasm that the Portland fans have brought to an already existing rivalry, to a team that has done it first — meaning our fans, our crowd, our record, our Open Cup, our victories — it adds to it. It gives us something to make sure we’re not complacent and we’re continuing to try and push up and onward because there are guys nipping at our heels.”

(Do you have an idea of what to expect this week or are we entering unchartered ground a little bit?) “A hard game. You guys have seen enough of John Spencer by now to know that he’s going to get his team fired up. I know the mentality of the Portland fans. I know the mentality of Merritt Paulson, their owner. They’re going to be ready to go; they want to beat the big brother. They want to beat the guy up here that’s got 36,000 people, that’s done well. That’s more than enough motivation than anything I can say up here on camera.”

(How excited are you to see the rivalry come to MLS?) “As a guy that was born and raised in Seattle, I have been around soccer in this city and the Northwest for a very long time. It gives me chills to know that all the hard work and sacrifice that we’ve done in this area to promote soccer — Adrian, Pete, myself, all the guys around here, Bernie James, there’s a lot of guys that have kept the flame going — and to have this come now to fruition, to have a packed house, enthusiastic fans, quality soccer players, is just fantastic for a guy that was born and raised in Seattle. It’s going to be fantastic.”

(How big is this for Kasey Keller? He kind of said this is just another three points…) “He’s just trying to keep the flames low. He’s going to be a motivated Kasey Keller. He’s on a good run of form. You watch the last couple games and Kasey has had to make some unbelievable saves — not that he doesn’t do that on a regular basis. You’re going to have a motivated goalkeeper and certainly a motivated team in front of him.”

(Have you ever seen a city hate a player so much in Roger Levesque?) “I don’t know why. Roger is the nicest guy on our team almost. He and Taylor Graham are such nice guys. They’re Stanford guys. They’re smart, funny, articulate. For some odd reason they thought Roger kicked one of their goalkeepers in the face in 2003, I think that’s the root of that rivalry.”

(On Levesque’s transition from USL to MLS contributor…) “It’s perseverance. It’s quality. It’s his testament to going being able to adapt to different coaching styles. When Sigi came in he was with me for a long time. He certainly was a good player in his own right as a college player, but then he blossomed with me in the USL days. He had some good strike partners with Sebastien Le Toux on the USL team and now he gets to play with Fredy Montero. A guy like Roger thrives on that kind of partnership where he can do some of the little things, the dirty work, the dog work that allows Montero and allowed Sebastien to be who he was. Roger relishes those opportunities.”

(On Levesque’s versatility helping the team…) “It’s great for Sigi because he has the flexibility. Roger can start up top and if he wants to bring Nate Jaqua on, OK, big Nate’s going to do what he does. So where does Roger go? Roger can go 90 minutes. Roger can go 120 minutes. We don’t have to take a guy out that isn’t going to make 90 minutes. It’s a great help for us and he’s qualities are he’s good in the air, he can run, he works hard, he closes down. Those are going to be important Saturday because Portland is a big team, high energy, big game. We’ll need every ounce of his energy.”

(What’s your favorite memory of the rivalry?) “On camera or off camera?”

(We better go on camera…) “Bobby Howe was my coach with the Sounders in 1983. He and Alan Hinton had a lot of success with the old team and I happened to be a young 17-, 18-, 19-year-old player with the team. When I got my first coaching job as a head coach with the USL team, the first game was down in Portland, and Bobby Howe was the coach of Portland at the time. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Brian, this is what to expect, ‘ and all this stuff. ‘You’re a good lad,’ and all that sort of stuff. We outplayed them and we won the game, and after the game the handshake and smile on my face probably said enough to Bobby to get him upset a little bit. It was a very satisfying moment in my coaching career, being my first professional victory that I had, against a mentor of mine.”

(Does Portland’s current team have enough of a connection to the past to impart the importance of the rivalry?) “Well, Gavin (Wilkinson) has been there as a player and as a coach for a while. That’s been a good place for Gavin. Good to him for sticking with the organization and everything. Certainly the fans carry enough of that burden — if you want to call it a burden — of keeping the rivalry alive. I think they do a great job of it. Their creativity, when they tried to chop the Space Needle down and some of that stuff, is fantastic. We enjoy that kind of atmosphere and that rivalry.”

(Kind of like Levesque and Jaqua’s chopping the tree down celebration…) “Yeah, well, that’s what I mean. Roger’s a smart guy, a funny guy, he’s from Stanford — those guys know how to be creative as well.”

FREDY MONTERO, forward (via translator)

(How much longer do you have with the cast?) “I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and it’s possible that I’ll have it for two more weeks. We’ll just have to have a look at the x-ray and see what it says.”

(Have you gotten more used to it?) “No. I’ve never gotten used to it. It’s the same as it always was. It’s terrible. I can’t do anything with my right hand. I write with my right hand so it makes it very difficult.”

(What about fans asking for autographs?) “I really can’t do it, but there are times when they ask me again and again and again. I try, and the last time was for a little guy that’s five years old.”

(Who was Deportivo Cali’s big rival?) “The big rivalry was with America and we hope we have that kind of rivalry here with Portland.”

(What were those games like?) “It doesn’t matter what place the teams are in, they could be in last place or first place. It doesn’t matter. When that rivalry comes to the field, it’s a do-not-miss game. Nobody wants to miss it. There are actually cash prizes for the team that wins.”

(Is it weird having the salaries made public?) “No, they publish salaries every year and I think people are kind of used to that. If people want to make something of it everybody can do that. I feel fine. I feel good. I put on my jersey and I get out there and train my hardest. I play my hardest for the team.”

TAYLOR GRAHAM, defender

(What’s your favorite Seattle-Portland memory?) “There are a lot. It’s such an amazing rivalry. It’s tough. I think there are two that are sticking out in my mind. One was in 2005, it was my first year experiencing the rivalry playing with the USL team and we drew Portland in the first round of the playoffs, home and away. It was Friday-Sunday, right after each other, back to back. We went down there and I think Roger got an early goal and we came back with the lead at home and were able to put it away. It’s that combined with Roger’s first-minute goal in the Open Cup in 2009. Then to see Roger be the one to score the goal — having been there in the USL and now with MLS — right off the bat and kind of take all the wind out of their sails. His celebration was great, too. I was watching that game from the box with a broken foot but I was so happy.”

(What is it about Roger and Portland?) “I think they just hate to play against him. He’s always a nuisance. He’s never going to stop running. He’s scored quite a bit of important goals in these games and I think there have been some things that they think he’s done that I don’t think he did. There were some celebrations that caused some controversy and they perceived it one way and it was actually something else. Roger has never been someone who is disrespectful towards opponent’s fans. They saw a couple things that they put in their back pocket and they pull out for situations like this. He’s easy to hate because he’s a nuisance and a pest that never stops working.”

(How does this compare to Stanford-Cal football?) “Stanford-Cal is just a built-in rivalry that you know. If you go to that school you’re told to dislike them. I guess it’s kind of the same thing. The difference is you’re actually on the field and you’re the ones doing the action. I was in the stands watching the footballs games. We played Cal in soccer but the rivalry wasn’t as intense because it didn’t have as many spectators. When you’re actually playing there and you’re the one looking at the fans there, they’re trying to get under your skin. They travel up here and it’s great. It’s fun to be the ones down on the field, the ones that people either love or the ones that people hate.”

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