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September 29, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Coach Sigi Schmid quotes from Thursday’s teleconference

schmid mug.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid held a teleconference with local reporters this afternoon in anticipation of Saturday’s MLS road game in New England. Schmid gave injury updates, thoughts on next week’s U.S. Open Cup final opponent and much more. Here’s the full transcript:

* * *

(On how the team’s feeling…) “Team’s feeling fine. We traveled up here yesterday. It was just a travel day; we didn’t practice or anything. I think the guys got into the pool a little bit, recovered a little bit. We just got done with practice today and it was a two-tiered practice. One group was the guys who didn’t play much. The other group was the guys who played a lot in Guatemala. But the team feels good physically; the team feels good emotionally.”

(On how Rosales is doing…) “He’s with us here. Today is the first day that (fitness coach) Dave Tenney’s been able to work with him. (Saturday) could be too soon. Our real goal with him is to have him ready for the game Tuesday.”

(On other injuries…) “Roger’s had a hamstring (injury), but he’s been training full out the last few days. We didn’t play him in Guatemala because we wanted to make sure that he would be ready for this weekend. Riley trained with us today, so he’ll continue to be evaluated. Hopefully we’ll have a decision in the next day or two with him. Noonan is also working through a muscular injury.”

(On what he needs to see from the team to have them ready for the playoffs…) “I think we need to maintain what we’re doing. I think we’ve shown good character; we’ve played well as a group, as a team. We’ve battled for each other. You always like to give up a few less goals. I think that’s something you’re always trying to achieve, especially as you get into the playoffs and the games seem to get a little bit tighter and the players become more attentive to defensive marking and details, and maybe physical play picks up a notch. But we want to continue what we’re doing right now. We’ve had some good success scoring goals. We want to continue to create opportunities, get our chances and just cut down on the goals we give away. We gave away a couple soft goals I thought against Comunicaciones and we need to make sure we don’t do that.”

(On traveling a lot guys out to the East coast…) “The intent behind it was just to give the players who are coming back from injuries better opportunities to incorporate themselves into training. Sometimes a guy’s at a stage where he can do part of training, but maybe not all of it. If he’s back in Seattle and the whole team’s gone, he really can’t take part in any part of training per se, it’s a lot of individual work. We felt that some players were at a stage where they could benefit from being part of the group setting. We felt that’s what we wanted to do and when we looked at the numbers, there were only one or two guys that were going to end up being left behind, so we said let’s just have the whole group here.”

(On how different the Fire is…) “Well the team’s changed a lot. The key right now with Chicago is they’ve put themselves into the frame of a playoff team. As tight as the Eastern Conference is, I think if they get a win this weekend they’ll be right there with 39 points with I think three or four games to go. They’re right in the hunt, so this game on Saturday for them should be vital and very important to them. The big change for them is they were playing Oduro and Nyarko wide and they pushed them up top to play with two basically fast strikers. Then they got Grazzini sitting in behind — although the last game that was really done by Paladini. They’re looking for that creative force. Pavel Pardo has given them some organization in the middle of midfield. He’s a very experienced, talented player who speaks excellent English and is a very good organizer of a team, so he’s helped stabilize them in the middle of midfield. When you start to win games, you start to believe in yourself. I’m sure they wouldn’t have predicted the win they got in Salt Lake, but now they feel very confident having that win and that this stage they’ve got to be a team who’s got to be champing at the bit to win more games and get into the playoffs, as well as the Open Cup.”

(Does it benefit the Sounders that Chicago will be more focused on league play before Tuesday’s final?) “It can be pluses or minuses. I know years ago I was in a situation where we had clinched the playoffs fairly early with Columbus and everybody expected us to rest a lot of players and things like that and make sure everyone was rested and fit and healthy for the playoffs. We didn’t do that. We rested a few guys who had little knocks, but we kept our team together because we felt it was important that we kept our rhythm going and kept our play going. I think for Chicago right now, they’re in a really good rhythm. It’s important for a coach to recognize that. Sometimes you keep letting them play because the rhythm’s good, they’re feeling good, they’re confident in each other and I think that’s the mood that Chicago’s in right now. It’s good for us. It means they’re competing week in and week out, but on the same token, if they had rested a lot of guys it might’ve been better for us because the guys who would’ve played against us would’ve missed some game time. There’s fitness and there’s game fitness and you can’t get game-fit without games.”

(Might Saturday’s game provide a chance to rest some players?) “As I always say, going into each game individually. We have a plan in terms of looking at a group of games, as well. Then we sort of evaluate which players are recovered well, which players are ready to go, who needs some minutes, who doesn’t need some minutes. It’s not going to be the same team that played against Comunicaciones, but it’s not going to be a team of trying to rest everybody either. It’s going to be an individual decision as to each player as to where we feel they’re at.”

(On balancing goals and realities of various competitions…) “You tell me: Is it a good thing to be out of the wild-card situation? Because the moment you’re the wildcard team, all of a sudden you become the No. 1 team in the East if you win your first game. You’re probably the team with the most points, which is one of the flaws in our seeding system. But for us, what’s most important for me is that we stay in a good rhythm and we continue to play games. The Open Cup is a very important game to us because it’s a competition that we’ve taken seriously from Day 1, and being able to win it three times in a row is something that’s pretty unique and special. We will certainly have that in our focus, but also maintaining second place — keeping the pressure on L.A. in terms of the Supporters’ Shield because they have a game on the weekend against Salt Lake and then they turn around and have to go to New York and New York needs point, so there’s the chance that maybe we could catch some points there. So for us it’s just a matter of, like I always say, putting out the best team that gives us the best chance to win this game against New England, and then doing the same when we play the Open Cup.”

(Is it unfair that Alonso gets more attention once he scores a couple goals and is he still a little underappreciated?) “It comes with the nature of the position. Obviously a lot of times the notoriety and the attention goes to the guys who score goals or the guys who make the cleaver assists or sometimes the goalkeepers who make saves or defenders who save it off the goal line, and the guys who do the dirty work in the middle of the field and run up and down, who help organize, who are the first line of defense and the first sometimes components of your attack, they get overlooked. I think Alonso is as good as any defensive midfielder in this league – probably better in my mind than some. I think our fans appreciate him. I think they know what he gives us day in and day out. I think the fans around the league probably don’t appreciate him as much. He’s definitely for me a Best XI-type of player and I think he’s been that now for a couple of seasons. He’s improved every year and the goals now bring a little bit of attention to him and a little notoriety to him. But he’s been doing what he’s been doing for a long while, and he’s an important player.

(On not traveling for a road game, much like Gary Smith did this week for Colorado’s CCL game…) “Everyone has to make their own decisions as they relate to those things. For me, if my team’s in a competition I’m going to go to the game with them, no matter what the team is that I send down. If we’re playing a Reserve League game and we have a first-team game roughly at the same time, obviously I’m not going to travel down to the Reserve League game. But if we’re in a competition — CONCACAF, Open Cup, obviously MLS — I would always travel with the team, because I think that’s the respect that the team deserves. I think it’s the respect that the opponent deserves. It’s the respect that the competition deserves. Now obviously Colorado had a great result, so maybe they were happy he wasn’t there. Maybe it took the pressure off of them. I don’t know, but that’s something for Colorado to decide and I’m sure Gary Smith is making the decision that he thinks is best for his club at that moment. For me, not traveling with the team, I think would be disrespectful to the competition that you’re competing in and to the opponent that you’re playing.”

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