There’s been a bit of chatter recently regarding some changes to the Sounders FC back line upon the start of the MLS regular season. And it hasn’t just involved the rotation at center back.
Marc Burch has also been making the left back spot his own, and I thought he was one of the stars of Friday’s 2-0 win against Houston. Coach Sigi Schmid isn’t surprised at the production (remember Seattle traded up in the MLS Re-Entry Process to draft Burch).
“It’s the guy I expected to see,” Schmid said. “There were questions of how he was going to deal with the toe surgery that he had … (and) he’s responded really well to that. He’s got good mobility, good movement there. As you saw the other night, he’s a good passer of the ball out of the back. That’s one of the qualities that he brings to our team. He’s a pretty steady defender. He doesn’t go flying forward as much as some outside backs do, but that’s okay. So we sort of knew what we were going to get and he’s fulfilled that.”
Some reporters caught up with Burch after Thursday’s practice and here’s the transcript of that interview:
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(Do you need games to fully assimilate with the starting group?) “Yeah, definitely. You can’t really replicate a game in practice, and the way guys play in a game is much different than practice. So getting more experience with the starting group, I’m getting more comfortable. It really feels like a natural transition with the first few games. The more I play, the more I learn and the better we get as a team.”
(You came in after having toe surgery. Is it still an issue for you?) “It’s not. It’s really surprising. I thought I was going to have more issues throughout the beginning of the year, but (Schmid) did a great job in preseason letting me get some time off when I needed it. Now it feels great. I can get through a full 90 without it hurting. That’s awesome.”
(Are you surprised how quickly it’s all come together for you?) “This is how I was hoping it would happen, but a lot of times it doesn’t. I was pretty fortunate to start the first game and I think as a team we’ve done well the first two regular-season games. Hopefully I can just keep helping the team out as much as I can.”
(How do you contain Chris Wondolowski on Saturday?) “He just makes a lot of great runs. He’s always in good spots, so you just got to make sure you keep an eye on him. When he gets his goals, it’s usually because people take their eye off him for a second and he slips into a good spot and taps it home. It’s not like he’s going to dribble by you and score the most amazing goal, but he’s going to be in the right position every time on the field.”
(Is it a group effort then? Or more one-on-one stuff?) “You can go one on one, but I think the best idea is to just always have an eye on him. If he’s coming in, you let the next guy know. If he’s in the midfield, then you make sure someone follows him. As long as you’re keeping an eye on him you can slow him down.”
(You seem to impact the offense from the fullback spot, but in a different way than Adam Johansson. Instead of running up and down the flank, you do a lot more passes up the side. Is that what you’re trying to do?) “Yeah, I think so. I’ve always been a guy who likes to play balls out of the back, look for runners and play balls from a little bit more of a distance. Adam is a pretty good runner — he’s good at overlapping and getting crosses off. I like to have early crosses from deeper and play people in. I think that David and Fredy make great runs, and Flaco makes amazing runs. It’s easier for me to just play them in and let them do their work up front, and try to hold it down in the back.”
(You and Flaco have seemed to form a nice understanding pretty quickly over there on the left…) “Yeah, it’s all Flaco really. The way he shows to the ball, the way he can make a defender think he’s going in and then he goes out — it’s amazing. He just times his runs right, he checks out the right way, he checks in the right way, and you know every time you get him the ball he’s going to control it and do something with it. It’s been pretty easy for me to play with him.”
(Do you speak any Spanish? Or does that just come through the language of soccer?) “I speak a little bit of Spanish, but in the game setting I don’t. Flaco knows the words he needs to know to move left, move right, go forward, come back, but it’s really just the game of soccer.”
(Do visitors get pumped up to come to CenturyLink Field too?) “Yeah, they do. Everybody talks about it all year; they can’t wait to come out here. I did it when I was at D.C. You feel the energy no matter what. It’s not like everybody is just raining down on you as an opponent. You feel the energy and it gets everybody pumped up. I think teams will always come in here and have a good energy and have good fight, but the fans stay behind us, and it always helps us.”