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February 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Transcript of Sigi Schmid’s teleconference

schmid mug.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid held another teleconference Monday. A lot of the questions surrounded new signing Eddie Johnson, but a few other subjects were addressed, as well. Here’s a transcript of the interview:

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(Can you give us an injury update on Eddie Johnson?) “Yeah, it’s nothing major. He would’ve been in a group that was just (going to do regeneration training) today anyway. He’ll be traveling with us to Cancun. Don’t know how much he’ll play on Wednesday; we’ll have to evaluate it day by day, but it’s nothing that we think is too serious.”

(How has Johnson handled coming off a couple difficult years?) “I think a lot of times when you look at players in their careers, sometimes there’s a phase where things haven’t gone as well for them. You take as example a player I know very well, he’s in New England right now, Benny Feilhaber. Benny had a number of years there where he didn’t play a whole lot or didn’t play maybe at the highest level when he was at Derby (County) after he left Hamburg. Then he went to Denmark and then he was playing the second division. He’s still a very, very capable player — so sometimes that happens to players. Our focus and what’s important for us right now is how Eddie does right now — how he performs with our team, how he fits in with our team. I think he’s highly motivated. I think he still has a lot of ambitions and goals in front of him, and he’s still young so he can still attain all of those.”

(Has he surprised at all so far?) “No, not really. I think he maybe some of his new teammates a little bit, because Eddie’s known for having speed and being fast and going at people and dribbling. But I think a lot of people would be surprised that he’s got a good first touch, that he holds the ball up very well when you play into his feet, that’s he technically very clean, those are things that sometimes people don’t associate with Eddie as much because they just see the speed, the explosion and the 1-on-1 stuff. His technique is clean and his first touch is very good.”

(How much did the emergence of Christian Sivebaek and David Estrada play into this?) “We have a little bit of depth on the flank areas. David played for us toward the end of last season at New England, and he played wide. Obviously with Christian Sivebaek we’ve used him both on the right and the left; we wanted to see if he was comfortable on both sides. We’ve been happy with what he’s done. On the other hand when you look at the trade as well, I think it’s a tremendous tribute to Lamar (Neagle) and to Mike Fucito. One was basically an undrafted player and the other one was a player who got picked fairly low, and both those guys have made themselves valuable commodities in this league. They’ve worked very hard, and they grew and developed in the system in Seattle, so that was good. So unfortunately to get something you have to give something up and that means now that the door is open for some other people. Now a David Estrada has an opportunity maybe to get a few more minutes. A guy like Sivebaek can obviously get some minutes out there wide, as well. Cordell Cato is somebody who’s going to come along — I’m very confident in his ability. So yeah, it’s a different set of names, but there are still some people who can play there.”

(This is the most turnover you’ve had in a season. What kind of challenges does that create?) “It’s not as big a challenge because there’s a core that’s here. So when you’re starting a team the first year everybody’s sort of new and you’re trying to establish a core. A lot of players were in there — certainly Kasey Keller played a very vital role in that. Even guys like Nate Jaqua, Pat Noonan when he joined our team, Peter Vagenas, veteran players helped to establish the core and helped to establish the culture that I wanted to create and that we wanted to create as a club with the Sounders (in regards to) our work ethic and our professionalism that we wanted to display and how we wanted to approach things. But obviously those players move on for various reasons and now we have a new core. There’s now the Alonsos and the Monteros and the Evans’s and the Hurtados and the Parkes, there are guys here that know what it means to be a Sounder and that know what it means to go out and train hard every day and to be dedicated and to be professional. Even though there’s turnover and there’s new players coming in — and again, when you add guys like Gspurning and Johansson, who are just good, experienced pros — you still have a core that’s basically something for the new guys to measure up to and they know what they need to do. I don’t think it’s as bad as maybe it looks when you look at numbers.”

(Did this trade have certain implications regarding O’Brian White and Sammy Ochoa?) “I think certainly if O’Brian White was healthy and wasn’t injured and hadn’t gone through what he went through last year, maybe we’re not talking about this trade. But that wasn’t the situation, that’s not where we were at, and we have a concern certainly as to when O’Brian is going to be able to play again or come back. That’s something that we’re still in the final stages of trying to draw some conclusions on. Sammy Ochoa is a player who I thought came on very well for us at the end of last year and can still do some good things. But he’s a player that needs to continue to work and work on the physical side of his game, as well. So he’s probably left the door open a little bit, per se, and that’s the way it is in professional sports and we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got our bases covered and we’ve got possibilities. I think O’Brian being out injured and Sammy maybe not being quite as sharp as we had hoped at this point, yeah, had an impact on us a little bit.”

(What are some of your goals for Wednesday’s game?) “One is the grass surfaces are always a little different in Mexico, so it gets us an opportunity to play on the type of fields that Mexican fields are – which is a little bit of a different surface. It gets us to play obviously against an opponent who plays a different style than an MLS opponent that we’ve been seeing so far. It also gets us into the rhythm of traveling on a Tuesday and playing a game on a Wednesday. So from all those aspects it’s a good little dry run for going into Santos, because we do have some new players.”

(Why did you decide to make it a closed game?) “Generally those teams, they don’t draw for games like this anyway, so it’s not like there’s going to be 10-15,000 people in the stadium even if it’s open. What I’ve found oftentimes in taking teams to Mexico over the years in the past, when you have the games on their training grounds and it’s a little bit open, you’re not quite sure who you’ve going to play. I think it increases the likelihood we’re going to be playing their legitimate reserves instead of playing a lot of their youth players. And by having it being a closed-door game, it’s better for them in terms of what they want to do with their team, and I think it gives us a better opportunity to play a good opponent.”

(Do you know when the next round of cuts will be? Might you hold off for a while?) “Probably holding (off) a little bit. There are some players who will not be going to Cancun with us, who are going to be going back to Seattle, you know like an example is Steve Zakuani, because we know he’s not going to play in the game, so rather than have him deal with two travel days, just have him deal with one travel day, and that allows him to get an extra training day in. Tetteh’s coming still off his hamstring, so we’re going to send him straight back to Seattle. There’s about three or four guys we’re sending straight back to Seattle – I think four in total. But in terms of cuts, per se, that’s something that we’ll get into at the beginning of next week.”

(What’s your plan once you get back to Seattle?) “We’re trying to get into (regular-season mode) just in terms of the rhythm that we’ve been trying to do with the guys that we think will be the starters in the Santos game. So for us, we play Wednesday, we travel back on Thursday, Friday becomes another off day for them, and we’re trying to give them Saturday off as well because they need a little bit of a break. But then we get back into it on Sunday and really try to establish a routine and a rhythm as we prepare for (March 7). In terms of training, we’ll go down to a one-a-day training routine. We won’t be training twice — like before we played Gulf Coast on Sunday we trained twice on Saturday. So we’ll go into our regular routine of training once a day and getting our extra work in and all of that stuff.”

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[View the story ” ” on Storify]


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