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May 10, 2011 at 1:15 AM

Sounders FC quotes: Hanauer, Schmid, Keller, Levesque

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgHere are some transcripts from Monday:

* * *

ADRIAN HANAUER, general manager, part owner

(On Portland week…) “Obviously it’s very exciting from a rivalry standpoint and the energy around this big game coming up against Portland. That said we have to temper it against the fact that we’ve got three games, they’re worth three points each and we want to come out of here with as many points after those three home games as possible. Sigi and the gang can (speak more to) injuries and who we’re able to put on the field, but it’s a big week and a big few weeks here at home.”

(Why aren’t you opening up more seats for this game?) “The decision happened over a long period of time. Our league to begin with had a policy where road supporters were allotted, I think, 100 seats. We talked as ownership, the three groups together, about what we wanted to do leading up to this. We wanted to be cognizant of the traveling supporters and certainly increase the number, but we also wanted to walk before we run. So we all agreed that 500 is a good number to open up for the traveling supporters. Part of that is that we each want these games to be home games. We don’t want a bunch of traveling supporters. As soon as we open up the whole building, it’s a free for all. So obviously when we open our whole building up it’s a lot different than when Vancouver and Portland open up their whole buildings, because their buildings hold 18,000 and 20,000. We want home games. We want our fans. We want our energy. We want to get our three points at home. So a big piece of it came to early planning and an agreement between the three clubs, and then part of it is just the competitive nature of things.”

(Do you have any sense on how many tickets you’d be able to sell?) “I don’t. I’m sure we would have sold more.”

(Maybe around 50,000?) “Maybe. I really don’t know. My gut doesn’t tell me that there are tens of thousands of people that are out there who don’t feel like they can get a ticket to our games when they want. We just know from how many season tickets we’ve sold, when we sell out each game, and how far in advance. This Portland game didn’t sell out immediately, so that tells me that maybe there aren’t tens of thousands of people out there pining that they weren’t able to get a ticket for this. But I don’t know.”

(Are you worried security-wise? Is anything special going to be done?) “Sure, yeah. We’re worried. I think we’ve got good plans in place. I think that the traveling supporters from Portand, and the traveling supporters from Seattle and the traveling supporters from Vancouver are all great. They’re great people and they want the right environment, but it just takes one bad egg to cause a lot of problems. So that’s always been the concern. It’s not the majority. It’s a few people who can throw things sideways pretty quickly. So yeah, we’ve got a good security plan in place we think. We’ve got good arrangements between the three clubs and the supporters groups for communication of information, and some of those policies are based on what’s done around the world — just making sure that people are registered and we know who they are. But that doesn’t stop people from buying tickets on the secondary market, or again, a bad egg causing some problems. We think we’re prepared, but you can’t be 100-percent certain.”

(Do you think the late start will affect what happens in the stadium?) “I don’t think so. That’s the least of our concerns.”

(Do you have a favorite Sounders-Timbers memory?) “Putting me on the spot. I’m so old now that the memories are all pretty foggy. My strongest memories are from the USL days because I was in the thick of it and there were just some unbelievably good games here at Starfire, tough battles, and thankfully we got the best of them a lot of the times. Those Open Cup games down there the past couple of years have been special as well. No one to focus on.”

(Is all the national attention anything but positive?) “I think it’s great for the league. It’s pressure on the teams, the players, which I think is good the league. It’s something new in a lot of ways, the pressure on teams in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, more so now in Toronto and some of the other markets, where you’ve got more fan attention, more media attention — it’s good for the development of the players and the game in this country. If nobody cares it just doesn’t create that pressure that I think improves players, especially their mentality. It’s just a great advertisement for the league to have the national spotlight, sold-out stadiums and intense rivalries. Hopefully it gets eyeballs watching and butts in seats in our markets and others.”

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(How are Brad Evans and Mauro Rosales doing?) “We got to see. Today was obviously an easy day for them, a regeneration day. We feel pretty confident Brad should be able to go on Saturday. With Mauro, we have to see. Probably his chances are a little less.”

(On filling out the reserve game roster…) “The problem we have is you’re allowed to use academy kids to fill out your roster for these type of games but our high-school season up here is right now, so there are probably two or three academy kids we would’ve brought up for this game but we can’t or else we jeopardize their high school eligibility. I think (Chivas USA has) five academy kids up here with them because their high-school season is done. We had a fill in with a few other guys that were available to make up the numbers in case we had to make subs.”

(Would you say any of them are on trial or getting an extended look?) “Not really. We asked out Kevin Sakuda, (Taylor) Mueller is out here, and then we got Sinisa Ubaripovic. … Just those three.”

(What makes the Seattle-Portland rivalry so intense?) “I’m a tough one to ask. Brian Schmetzer is probably a better one to ask because he’s lived here all his life so he feels it a little more. I know in the Open Cup games that we’ve played down there the games definitely had a lot of fire, a lot of intensity. You could tell that the fans were very competitive with each other. Portland has gotten off to a great start and gotten off to a great start at home. Their fans feel like they’re a big reason why, but we feel our fans are the best and I think that’s what makes the rivalry so good as well is the competition between the fans.”

(On Portland’s roster and playing style…) “Obviously they’ve put a roster together that’s got some quality. When you’re able to bring in a Cooper, who’s a quality player. They added Perlaza, who’s got some speed up front. They made some (moves) in trading for Jewsbury and Jeremy Hall. If you describe their style they’re probably a little more direct. They’ve got some size; they’ve got three big boys on set pieces, which is similar to the style that Houston used for a lot of years. John Spencer was the assistant coach there, so that’s not a surprise. Brunner is very good in the air. Danso is good in the air. Cooper is big and good in the air. It’s what they’re about and we’re what we’re about. It’s going to be a great game.”

(On John Spencer…) “He’s doing well. He’s a guy you could always tell was going to become a head coach. He was a ready to be a coach. You could tell when he was playing he was going to become a coach. With certain guys you can just see it, and he’s done well. He’s confident. He’s got a lot of playing experiences that he can rely on. He’s had good coaching experiences as well in Houston. He’s a feisty guy and he passes that on to his players and his team. Sometimes that’s good, it gets your team motivated and gets ’em going. Hopefully we can take advantage of it when sometimes you get a little bit too excited.”

(Any worry your guys might get overexcited?) “No. We’re going to be ready to play. We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited with what’s coming up. What we expressed prior to the Toronto game is what we want to do here. We want the crowd to feed off our energy, and then we want to be able to feed off the crowd’s energy. We have to be the catalyst. We have to be the ones that step on the field with a lot of energy to get our crowd energized as well. Then our crowd will have the energy to keep us energized. It’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great day of soccer for the Northwest and it’s going to be a great day of soccer for the nation.”

(How does this compare to big rivalries in American sports?) “It’s like a Yankees-Red Sox. It’s like a Lakers-Celtics, although that one’s from coast to coast so it has a little different genre to it. The Angels and Dodgers aren’t really a rivalry, but it’s sort of like the Giants and Dodgers a little bit in baseball. I’m trying to think of football rivalries. … Packer-Bears. I think based on proximity and everything else it’s probably most similar to like Yankees-Red Sox type of thing.”

(Is the week of preparation business as usual, or do you allow yourself to get caught up in the hype a little?) “No, you don’t want to get into the hype, but obviously it’s something that should be on the back of their minds now. They know it’s Portland week and that should get them excited. If I have to spend a long time trying to impress that upon them then they haven’t been living in the city long enough.”

(Do you let Brian give the last speech before kickoff?) “I never let Brian have the last word because if I let him have the last word I’m never going to get another word in at any point. (laughs) No, certainly him and Tommy Dutra have been a part of this rivalry for a long time and I know it’s especially important to them. I can definitely see their energy and the bounce in their step and I know they want to see us win this game as much as anything.”

(On having a lot of Portland fans at Qwest…) “We just have to make sure they don’t have a lot to cheer about. So that’s our job on the field to not give their fans a whole lot to cheer about and give our fans a whole lot of things to cheer about and then it’ll be a very happy day for all of us.”

KASEY KELLER, goalkeeper

(On Portland week…) “These games are always a little bit interesting. They’re a lot of fun to be a part of when you’re successful, but they’re not a lot of fun to be a part of when you’re not successful. Ask me again Saturday at about 10 o’ clock how much fun we had.”

(On coming back for a final year to experience the rivalries…) “It was part of it. If they hadn’t come up and I still felt good, I would have played. But it was definitely nice to be a part of this. Like I said kind of looking back after the very first game, it would have felt very strange not to have been a part of that. And I think the same thing about being a part of these first games again. Not being a part of these first games would feel very strange. Now it’s going to be nice that I was — hopefully, if I don’t get injured — in goal for that first game with the two teams back together.”

(On getting caught up in the hype this week or sticking to a business-as-usual approach…) “You have a combination. You’re going to (get amped up) because it’s there and you’re going to be reading it and you’re going to be feeling it. At the same time you can’t let the emotions take over the day. You still have a job to do. You have to understand what it means and make sure you’re more than ready to play. At the same time don’t get over-carried away. You’ve seen plenty of big derby games where the guy goes a little too overboard, gets sent off in the first few minutes because he boots somebody because he’s so hyped up for it and it ruins the game. We need to still understand what we need to do but at the same time you do have to understand that you have to bring a little bit more, if possible. Usually you find a little bit more.”

(If Portland had joined MLS before Seattle, could you have seen yourself joining them?) “Of course. I have a lot of fond memories of UP and the WSL incarnation of the Timbers that I played in. Obviously with Olympia and Seattle, and growing up and playing in Federal Way, this was far-more home than Portland, and this felt right. At the same time I have a lot of friends in Portland still and enjoyed my time there, but I’m a Sounder. It’s funny because when I played with Millwall, obviously the big rival is West Ham, there are very few teams that I thought would be very difficult to play for. Being a Milwall player, playing for West Ham would’ve been very, very difficult. Not necessarily because of myself but because of the fan situation. Playing for Tottenham and going to Arsenal. Playing for ‘Gladback then playing for Cologne. Obviously I’m so deep with the Sounders, it’s just not an option. It just wouldn’t work. But I have no ill will toward the Timbers or Portland or anything like that, you just realize that when you’re a part of something and there is that much of a rivalry and that much intensity involved, sometimes you just have to polarize yourself. Like I said, I’m a Sounder.”

(On Clive Charles’ impact on you…) “I’ve been very fortunate though my life that I haven’t lost a lot of people close to me. Clive is one of the people that I miss everyday. A huge, huge reason why I’m still playing today is because what I learned from Clive at my time at UP. For no other reason I love play (in Portland) to see Clive’s name up in the stadium. It’s a huge honor for myself to have been a part of anything Clive was a part of.”

(Everyone who speaks of him speaks so highly, what was it about him?) “Too many things to count. I think the combination of being a great person, a great coach, it didn’t matter if you were the star player or a reserve player, he was just a great person, a great mentor. Take training for example. We were getting ready to play UCLA and I don’t know why, but I was losing my mind on something and I got kicked out of training about three or four days before our first NCAA playoff game. It didn’t matter that I was an All-American, or whatever I was. So I was gone, we had a talk and I had to clean things up. That was why when I got to Europe I was ready to go. If I had done certain things and not listened to Clive, like I said, I wouldn’t be the pro or person that I’ve been. I owe him a tremendous amount.”

ROGER LEVESQUE, forward/midfielder

(Can you tell the story of when you were a guest player with Portland a few years ago?) “I think it was 2008 and Seattle wasn’t sure if they were going to have a team just because of MLS coming in 2009. So I went and played a game in Portland, just an exhibition game against Toronto. I was in the starting lineup and walked out on the field and there was a big sign that said: “True fans hate Levesque”. No love lost there, that’s for sure. Players, coaching staff and organizations all have unbelievable respect (for each other), but there’s a little back-and-forth with the fans. I think it’s been good. The rivalry has been there since I’ve been here obviously. I’ve been around for a long time and I think that’s why they pick on me a little bit.”

(Have you embraced being a symbol of sorts of the rivalry?) “Absolutely. Any kind of back-and-forth just shows the passion of both cities and both fan groups in how involved they are and how excited everyone is for the game coming up on Saturday.”

(On moving around position to position…) “It’s been interesting just kind of bouncing around a little bit. Definitely familiar with forward and playing out wide the last couple years. My philosophy has always been, ‘Whatever it takes to help the team win.’ Wherever that puts me on the field is fine. Just going out and battling and connecting passes and doing whatever helps to get a victory.”

(On the mentality of not knowing where you’re going to play…) “It’s definitely a different mentality going into it, whether you’re stepping on as a forward or playing right back. I feel like maybe it takes me a little longer to get in the right back mindset because I haven’t had a whole lot of experience there. Sliding in up front and out wide is pretty seamless. I just recognize where I’m playing and go from there.”

(Is it more of a fan-based rivalry, or do you feel it on the field?) “There’s definitely passion in the players, starting with a guy like (assistant coach) Brian Schmetzer, who’s been around the since NASL days and been involved in that rivalry from where it started. As far as on the field goes, I think it’s going to get a little bit nasty. I think players definitely feel that intensity and pride. I know all the guys on our team have that pride in the Sounders symbol and I know their guys do as well with the Timbers. I think that starts on the field and will definitely carry over to the fan groups.”

(Portland doesn’t have players that played against the USL Sounders, will that lessen things at all?) “No, I don’t think so. I think there’s enough guys around in the organization who have been involved in it. They feel it too. Obviously with the last two years in the Open Cup, with us knocking them out, I think some of those guys are left over. I think the rivalry will be there regardless.”

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