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October 31, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Kasey Keller: “We didn’t come in for the fight.”

keller mug.jpgSounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller declined to comment to reporters in the visitors’ locker room Saturday after a horrendous 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.

The captain opened up after Monday’s practice, however, and here’s the transcript of his group interview with the media:

* * *

(What’d you see from the guys today?) “Obviously there’s a bit of dejection, but you’d expect that. You’re not going to come in after that result the first day and be all bright and lively. We had a little bit of a video session, which obviously then highlights issues that we need to correct, which then brings a few more people a little more down. The funny thing about this league with the parity is, yeah, you can get beat 3-nil and then the next game you can win 3-nil. It’s not as if you just got beat by Man U 3-nil and now you have to go play them in the second leg. It’s not that kind of issue. Yeah, we’re all extremely disappointed with the score-line and the mountain we have to climb, but it’s definitely a climbable mountain as opposed to something that’s just insurmountable.”

(Toughness was something the team said was better this year, that didn’t appear to be there Saturday…) “It wasn’t there Saturday. There’s a whole lot of factors involved and we could talk here for a long, long time, but we didn’t come in for the fight. In the first 10-15 minutes, if you look back at the tape, you thought maybe this is going to be OK. Then as it got a little bit more physical and a little bit harder, we just didn’t compete all the way around. Like I said, there are a lot of different tactical reasons because of that, but there were opportunities when guys needed to make a 30-40 yard run to stop something from happening and it wasn’t there. Why that happened in a playoff game, I have no idea. I fully understand you’re having a bad day passing the ball, you’re having a bad day and can’t just seem to make things click on the offensive side, but you can always run hard and tackle. In the playoffs you think that’d be first and foremost in your frame of mind in an away game, where whatever happens I’m going to run hard and tackle, and it wasn’t there.”

(The NBA is known for having things heat up in that regard in the playoffs, is the MLS the same in that way?) “Probably. I think you’ve seen it in cup situations for us, as well, where you’re in a knockout phase. Maybe it would’ve been better to go into a one-off game, where you didn’t have to think about, ‘Well, what happens in this game? Then we have to go back and play another game,’ because we seem to be great in the one-off situations. But we didn’t step up and perform in a do-or-die manner. That’s probably the thing that’s the most disappointing for everybody. Sure, like I said, you can say your passing wasn’t great, or you missed this opportunity, or you didn’t see that guy make that run and then didn’t hit that pass, but why you didn’t run with somebody, why you didn’t tackle, why didn’t clear a ball, that’s the stuff that’s the hard part. That just means… I don’t know what that means. That’s the part that’s the hardest to swallow. That’s got to be first and foremost. When another team steps it up a gear in the playoffs and you almost step it down, that’s hard to fathom. But the cool part about having a second leg at home is you have a chance to put it right. You start by getting one goal. You start by getting the first goal and go from there. Let them worry a little bit as the second and third one come. But you can only get the second one after the first.”

(Is it tough to overcome losses like Rosales and Zakuani?) “Oh sure, of course. But you look at what Salt Lake had: their two center backs had to leave the game and we still didn’t get a shot on target. That’s part of the game and how you adapt to that. For the most part this year we’ve done really well. Would we love to have Mauro in that game? Or Steve? Of course. And I’m sure every other team in the league is saying the same thing, ‘God, I wish this guy was a little bit fitter and he hadn’t been injured.’ It’s always part of the equation and how that team rises to that.”

(Do you give thought to every game here on out could be your last?) “There’s no question that just training today, I thought this could be my second-to-last training session. Of course that’s there and that’s part of it. I’m going to do everything I can on Wednesday to make sure that it wasn’t.”

(Is it imperative then for you not to end your career with another first-round exit?) “Not a problem. If that’s the way it works out then that’s the way it works out. I just want to go and win the game on Wednesday and hopefully we win by a big-enough margin. That’s all part of team play. You don’t have that choice. You go out and play the best you can for the team and hope it’s enough.”


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