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November 1, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Schmid on comebacks, strategy and home-field advantage

schmid mug.jpgReporters got the chance to talk to coach Sigi Schmid after what was perhaps the final practice of the Sounders FC season on Tuesday. Here are some highlights from the conversation (Monday’s quotes at the bottom):

* * *

(How was the last practice before the game?) “The main thing is it’s not our last day of practice. We want to come up with a good result tomorrow. Sometimes to do outstanding things or to do miracles, you’ve got to set the stage — and we certainly have set the stage. Now it’s up to us to come through and show our tenacity as a team and show our determination as a team.”

(Do you have to guard against trying to get all three goals back at once?) “Obviously you can’t score three at a time. You’ve got to score the first one and the next one and the next one. We don’t have caps, so we can’t turn them around and make them rally caps, or turn them inside out or anything like that, so we’re not going to do that. It’s a matter of we know we’re not going to get all three goals in five minutes either. … It’s going to be 90 minutes of work, and we’ve got to get our goals from different places — we’ve got to get them from the run of play, we’ve got to be dangerous on our corners, we’ve got to be dangerous on set pieces, we’ve got to keep the pressure on them and not give anything up. But on the same token, we’ve got to carry to game to it, fueled on by our effort and fueled on by our crowd.”

(Is a three-goal lead a potential trap for RSL?) “I think you’d rather be three ahead than three behind at this stage. We can start painting pictures and saying a two-goal lead is the worst lead in soccer and talk about all that BS. I’d rather be up two than down two. I think anybody will tell you that. It is what it is. It is the reality. We can’t go back. We can’t change Saturday’s game. We can’t change our performance from that night because it’s not going to change that result. What we can (do) is change our performance and affect the result tomorrow night. That’s our intention and that’s our goal.”

(On showing team both its faults and successes in preparation…) “We’ve had such a good season that sometimes you have to be reminded of maybe what you didn’t do as well. I think the guys are well-aware of what they didn’t do well on Saturday night. I think that’s been made really clear to them and we get rid of that on Monday before practice. The rest of the Monday and today the focus is on us doing what we do and playing our game. Sixty-three points don’t lie. We’ve been a good team throughout the season and we need to get back to that, and we need to remember what made us a good team, what made us dangerous and what made us successful.”

(How important is the first goal?) “Obviously it’s important. Getting it early is going to be better than getting it later, but on the same token it’s a 90-minute game. Like in Kansas City, where we scored two goals in two minutes right at the end of the game, everything’s possible. We want to get the goal, obviously, as early as we can, but on the same token, we don’t want to be like a kamikaze and run into an open knife by throwing everything forward trying to get the first goal in the first 10 minutes of the game, and take one on the other end of the field. We have to be smart, but we have to be aggressive. We’ve got to be serious about our game, but we also have to have fun. Every time you play you have to have some fun. We need all those elements in our game and realize that we have to be patient at the right times.

(On his 2003 collapse with L.A….) “I was hoping you weren’t going to bring that up…”

(Have you talked about that at all?) “No, we haven’t talked about that. That was such a weird game. You’ve got a guy on the field who won (The Best Young Player) at the World Cup in 2002 and right before halftime (we decide) to pass the ball to Landon Donovan on a free kick and all of a sudden it’s (2-2) right before halftime … You could feel the game tip. I shared some stories with (San Jose coach) Frank Yallop after the game. I know what he said to the team and if we’re in that situation maybe I’ll do the same. But it wasn’t any great tactical plan. It was just, ‘Come on guys, we’ve got to win the ball and we’ve got to win our duels.’ For me, it’s just an example that everything’s possible. They were able to do that against us. You look at (Deportivo) La Coruna against AC Milan a few years ago, where AC Milan won at home 4-1 and then went on the road and lost. You’ve got Barcelona came back against Atletico. You’ve got Liverpool’s three goals in six minutes against AC Milan there’s plenty of examples we’ve seen where teams can do it. It’s just a matter of us coming through and doing it.

MONDAY

(What’d you see from the group today?) “Obviously they don’t feel good about what happened on Saturday, so it was pretty quiet. Quiet is good. Calm before the storm, so we’ll be ready.”

(What did you see upon second look of the game?) “It’s always the same. When you watch the tape it’s never as bad as thought it was, and it’s never as good as you thought it was when you play well. Obviously Saborio scored a great second goal, but I thought we fell asleep defensively on the throw-in, so my thoughts really didn’t change. The offsides — Is he off? Is he not off? — it’s fairly close. A lot of linesmen would call that offsides. They called offsides on Saborio in the second half when he was three yards onside. The 50-50 calls don’t usually go the way of the forwards, but it happened. Watching it I just felt the same way I did at the end of the game, we turned the ball over far too easily. There were too many times where we won the ball and we gave the ball away, so that forces our shape to be to their offensive shape, which gives them the advantage. So we have to do a much better job at keeping the ball.”

(On playing the home-field advantage…) “You turn it around because you have to score four goals to win, three goals will tie it up. Obviously the turf is a little bit more difficult for them to play on. We’ve got our crowd behind us, so that’s a benefit for us as well. I think we know what we have to do. We’re motivated. They obviously know that we’re going to come and go at them, so we’ve got to make sure we don’t get countered on. Then we’ll see how they decide to play it.”

(On lack of toughness…) “I just thought they were a little more physical than we were early in the game. The referee let it go a little bit. The challenge of Ochoa on Olave comes to mind. Ochoa needs to be stronger; the referee let that go. Flaco got pushed off the ball a couple of times, as well. We just have to be stronger and be prepared for that physically.”

(Is Fernandez OK after that awkward tackle from Russell?) “Yeah, he’s doing OK. Russell for sure got the ball first and it was a clean tackle of the ball, but with his trail leg he ended up getting Flaco with his trail leg so we’re lucky nothing more seriously happened out of it. That tackle was just a reflection on how they were a little hungrier in the game than we were.”

(Is there a monkey on your back in terms of getting out of the first round?) “Obviously there must be, because we’ve done it two years in a row and we’re behind right now in Year 3, 3-0. Everything sets up an opportunity, so we have an opportunity on Wednesday to come up with a great result. If we have the result we want to have, it’ll be a game that people remember for a long, long time. That’s our objective, to create a game you’re not going to forget.”

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