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October 13, 2011 at 12:10 AM

Schmid on Ochoa, player rankings, Klinsmann and more

schmid mug.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid held a lengthy group interview with reporters after practice Wednesday. Here are some highlights…

* * *

(On Sammy Ochoa’s performance in the reserve game and how his fitness is coming along…) “He’s getting more minutes. Obviously the reserve game was the first time we were able to push him over a period of time. I think his effectiveness probably went down at about the 60-minute mark or so. I think he ended up playing about 75 or 73. It’s definitely coming along for Sammy. We have Nate, we have Sammy, Noonan has played some minutes — those are some different options we have that can play up front. The rest of the year you might even see Neagle go up top once in a while.”

(On Alvaro Fernandez being No. 1 in the Castrol Index…) “I pay as much attention to the Castrol Index as I do to the Tokyo stock market, because I have no stocks over there. I have no idea. Nobody’s ever explained to me how they put that thing together. When you look at some of the rankings you almost chuckle to yourself, so I’m not really going to comment on those rankings.”

(On Osvaldo Alonso having the most tackles and touches via Opta…) “The Opta stats are something you can look at a little bit more because I think it’s an accumulation of information and it can be quantified. Theoretically you should be able to go in and if I wanted to review all the games I could add up to the same number. I’ve always said that Alonso is, if not the best ball-winner in the league, certainly one of the top two. I think he is the best ball-winner in the league and I think the stats bear that out.”

(On Klinsmann’s run with the USMNT…) “It just takes time. When you’re trying to build a team it takes time. You can’t get too hung up on the early results. In my first year in Columbus, I don’t think we lost a game in preseason, and then we didn’t make the playoffs. The year we won the championship, we were barely .500 in preseason. To me, right now everything is a little bit of preseason and you don’t get that steady time to work with people. The only way you can make evaluations on players is to stick them out there because sometimes a guy looks good in practice, but then in games they end up making errors. You look at the goal they took — it’s a defender’s error there along the way. Eventually you have to make decisions on what you see, but I think you still have to give him time. You have to have patience with the whole thing and not get too excited, too early.”

(On Klinsmann wanting a longer MLS season…) “Obviously we play a ton of games. … When you say as an example the German season runs from August until the end of May or something. Yeah, but they also have a six-week break there in the middle of it. So when you all of a sudden now go end of May, well that means June and July is two months. You put that month break in there in January and all of a sudden you get three months off, which is really comparable to what we have. I think what makes our season seem so short is that the break comes in one segment, and so for a lot of the guys it’s really hard because anyplace else you play in the world you’re going to have a break in the middle of your season at some point. Our guys go straight through. England doesn’t do it but they start a little later, or end earlier for sure. You look at all the South American leagues, there’s a first half of the season, a second season — a Clausura champion, an Apertura champion — and there’s always that break in between. Our guys have gone February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and then go into November. That’s going to be 10 months at the end of the day, so it’s very comparable. Maybe (there could be) a shifting of the season, getting a break in the middle of it. Weather-wise there are certain things that you have to deal with. For sure the season is longer than it has been. If I remember right we started before the Mariners and we’re still playing and they’re done. So it’s been a long season.”

(On what Keller has meant to the team…) “It’s phenomenal. It’s an honor for me and a privilege to have had the opportunity to coach him on this team. I had the chance to work with him on the U.S. national teams and select teams, when he was really young. As he got older a little bit, off and on. To be able to coach him day in and day out has been a great honor for me. I think the level that he’s been able to maintain in his last years here in Seattle has been great. I think it’s a tribute to his determination, his own ego to do well. I think all great players are driven by ego — although sometimes they don’t like to maybe hear that word — but his determination to do well is there. I was watching him today warming up and I said to one of the assistants, ‘Can you imagine doing that for 25 years? Falling over like that for 25 years and getting up again and doing it every day and saying this is fun?’ To me, it’s absolutely amazing. I think it’s been great what he’s done.”

(On an expected crowd of over 59,100…) “I think it’s a great reflection of our fans’ understanding what’s happening and what’s going on. If you don’t have a ticket yet, you need to get one because it’s going to be a special event. You don’t always get to see someone’s last regular-season game. To see someone who has been a premier U.S. goalkeeper, who’s played in World Cups as he has, you don’t often get that opportunity. From that standpoint, you want to be there, you want to be part of the event. I think it’s a reflection that our fans have committed themselves to coming out and honoring Kasey. It’s well deserved.”

(Will emotions be an issue in such a big sendoff?) “No, he’s a veteran player. He could probably calm me down before the game rather than me trying to calm him down. He’s been through a lot of different battles on the field and a lot of different tournaments and big games and big crowds. I think it’s going to be emotional for him, for sure, because when you get to that point it’s always emotional, but I think the team will be there to support him. The best support we can give him is to usher him off with a win.”

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