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February 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Sigi Schmid on training games, injuries, Santos Laguna, starters, roster cuts and more

schmid mug.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid held a teleconference with reporters Tuesday afternoon before the team boarded a flight for Seattle. He covered a variety of topics and here is the transcript from the call:

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(Can you give us an overview on how Arizona went and what’s coming up?) “I think Arizona went well for us. I think we got the work done that we wanted to get done in terms of establishing our fitness base, so I was pleased with that. Part of building fitness is you also have to give guys a little bit of time to recover and so forth, so we trained this morning. It wasn’t a regeneration morning training; it was a regular training session. We worked on our tactics and our defending a little bit and then we’ll be off on Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll train again Friday and then we’re off to Florida. So we wanted to get a little break, make sure everybody saw their families, got a couple days off, regenerate a little bit and then we’ll get back to work in Florida.”

(We heard about Mike Fucito having a puncture wound and the possibility of a staph infection after Monday’s game. How’s he doing?) “It really wasn’t that deep. He didn’t really have a puncture wound; it was more of a raking of the cleats. You can see the red marks on his knee and on his thigh and so forth, but there was no puncture wound, so there’s no danger of a staph infection or anything like that. It’s more just from the force of the blow. Obviously there was some bleeding that took place around the knee and the quad area, so we got to make sure that … we get that bleeding kept at a minimum. He was wrapped up today and he was walking on it. Ultimately, it will get better each day.”

(And how about Christian Sivebaek and Patrick Ianni, who weren’t able to play on Monday?) “Sivebaek we just held out because he had been having some issues with his knee and we wanted to make sure he could get those issues behind him. Every time we started to train him again we felt we maybe brought him back a little too soon, and after a day or a day and a half of training it’d start bothering him again. He felt very good today, took part in our training session and ran at the end of the training and said he felt very good, so that was a positive. Patrick Ianni has a quad strain. He felt he couldn’t go, so we have to respect that decision, so we held him out because of that.”

(Generally, where would you say this team is compared to past seasons?) “I think we’re further along at this stage fitness-wise than we were last year at the same time. Obviously it’s a matter of just getting cohesion in games. The first time you play an opponent that’s not yourself sometimes it takes you a little bit of time to get used to the intensity and everything. The game against Vancouver yesterday, they’re playing for a new coach, so they’re playing with a lot of energy, they’re putting a lot of enthusiasm into the game and caught us a little bit at the very beginning. But after that I was very happy with the first group and I thought our fitness was good. I thought we dominated, for sure, the latter part of the first 45 minutes. We didn’t come out with a goal, but I thought the soccer was good. I was happy with the fitness, I was happy with the soccer, so I think we’re OK. Now we’ve just got to push in the next games in Florida. We’re really going to up their minutes in games fairly quickly.”

(You seem to be facing a variety of different opponents in Florida. Why is the schedule set up that way?) “Obviously different players play in different games. So we’ve got the games set up that we want our first-team guys to play in and the guys that we feel are going to start against Santos. In that group of 15 or 16 guys, we want to make sure that they get into a rhythm of going full-out basically every week, making sure they push themselves through a game. Obviously the game against Columbus is going to be an important game for them. Then, a little over a week later — but we’re going to give them a little bit of a run-out before then, so that’s the reason for the college team — they’re going to get a full run-out again against Atlante. Then a week later, we’re hoping to solidify another game, and then a week later we play against Santos. We’re trying to get them into that rhythm so they really get used to building up into a weekly rhythm earlier than you normally would. The other games — e.g. the Orlando game — are going to be quality games for our reserve guys, the guys who are just on that second tier. They’ll play the majority of the minutes in that game and we’ll get some minutes from our starters, but probably not many. Then against Columbus, we’ll get more minutes from our starters. Then the under-17s are for the guys who haven’t gotten minutes up until that point to get some good minutes and the college game becomes a mix again.”

(How different is preparation with a compressed schedule?) “There’s only so much you can do because we can’t replicate a league schedule. What we’ve got to try to do is create some games that will replicate at least the intensity that they’re going to have as they go into that game with Santos Laguna. So from that standpoint, actually the game against Vancouver was good because it was very intense — it was a little bit chippy. But right now Santos Laguna is in the middle of their season. They’re doing very well. They’re in good form. They’re probably the best team in Mexico right now in terms of the form and the way they’re playing. So we have to try to make sure we’re sharp when we go into the game because they’re a team that’s sharp because they’re coming off a lot of league games. So we can’t replicate the league schedule, but we try to do the little things to try to make it as realistic as we can.”

(On Sammy Ochoa…) “It was a great thing for Sammy and his family to welcome their second child. That’s something (that was) important for him to be there. Unfortunately that time away also probably set him back a little bit, so right now he’s got to make up for some of that missed time. So when we come back home here today, if you want to come by Starfire you’ll probably see Sammy there on Wednesday and Thursday. He’s not going to get those two days off. He had some days off and he needs to make up for that and I think once he makes up for that and gets himself back into that rhythm, then he has a good chance of pushing for a shot in the starting lineup.”

(Were Monday’s starters essentially your current starters had it been a meaningful game?) “Yeah, I think you could consider that fairly close. Obviously there are guys that are pushing. Lamar Neagle is pushing to get into that group. Marc Burch is pushing as well. There’s always the possibility of moving Fernandez inside, which we did in the other game. Ochoa needs to push as well on Fucito. So there are certain guys that are pushing, but I think all in all, if that was the Santos Laguna game yesterday, that would have probably been the lineup.”

(Are you trying to schedule a preseason game here for fans?) “Ideally, that’s what we would like. I know (team officials are) in the process of finalizing those details, so hopefully they’ll be able to announce something soon and then the mystery will be gone for all of us.”

(Do you know when the next round of cuts will be?) “Going into Florida we’ll trim down a little bit from where we were here. Additionally, Michael Tetteh should be able to rejoin us in Florida, as well. But we’ll make some changes, but again we haven’t announced those. We want to be sure that we’re able to talk to the players first.”

(What did you learn and what do you need to see from the players who played in the last 30 minutes Monday, the reserves and trialists?) “You always learn something. You want to see them certainly compete in the games, figure out situations. Vancouver is changing to a system where they play a 4-2-3-1. They’re playing a game that is a little more geared on playing balls over the top of your defense and trying to get behind you quickly. I wanted to see how those players would adjust to that because we’re the kind of team that tends to push the ball around a little bit more … so for those guys, it was important (to see) how are they going to react to balls being played over the top. And also it gave us a better look at some of those trialists that we were looking at, and it allowed us to make some decisions. Obviously within that group that played in that last 30, there are some guys who won’t be with us, but there are some other guys who will be with us.”

(How do you handle letting players go from camp?) “We’ve always been an organization that believes in helping our players, and as a coach, that’s something I’ve believed in for a lot of years. Whenever you make decisions as to who you’re going to keep and who you’re going to let go, it’s never an easy decision. And I never want that to become an easy decision. There are some guys who are close and you sort of want to monitor and keep tabs on them, see how they get along and if you can put them into an environment where they can improve, like Lamar Neagle did a year ago, and get in there and play games and get those minutes — those are important. Sometimes it takes time. I was telling somebody today, when I first saw Carlos Ruiz play he was on the under-20 team and I didn’t land him for L.A. until he was 22, but I followed him for that whole period of time beforehand. But by the time we were able to work everything out contractually, by the time the opening was there, that’s what it took. There are some players there that have maybe shown enough, but for one reason or another it’s just not feasible for us to sign them at this point. L.A. seems to figure out how to sign everybody, but we can’t somehow be able to do that — there are foreign limitations and there’s who you have above the line and salary cap issues and things like that. When you loan players from teams, usually they want a loan fee, so that adds up … especially if players are good. All those things we have to take into account, but what we try and do is get players into good situations, especially players we like and be able to follow them — just like Alex Caskey, who last year was with us and was able to come back with us and has done fairly well. If you put guys in that situation it allows them to grow.”

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[View the story “Sigi Schmid’s Tuesday teleconference” on Storify]


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