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Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

May 12, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Sigi Schmid: “When top teams meet, there’s sometimes not a lot that separates the two.”

flaco rsl.jpgPhoto credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times (full gallery here)

Here are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC’s 1-0 loss Saturday to Real Salt Lake, which snapped Seattle’s winning streak, unbeaten streak and shutout streak.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC coach

(Opening statement…) “I thought we played well for the first 45 minutes. I think they had some looks at goal, but I don’t think we gave up a lot of good chances. Obviously, they buried one of them and that sometimes happens. I didn’t think we were as good in the second half. I thought they did a good job of taking a little bit of the air out of the ball, slowing down our attack. I think maybe fatigue affected us because our movement up front wasn’t as active as it was in the first half. Five games in (15) days is a little bit of a haul, but at the end it’s not an excuse. We had enough chances in the first half that we needed to get a goal. I think a tie would have been a fair result tonight, probably, because they maybe had a little bit more in terms of possession in the second half. Overall, I can’t fault our guys for what they’ve done over the last five games.”

(On if he looks at it as an individual game or as part of a five-game stretch…) “It’s part of a set of five games. They’re an experienced team in this league and they’re one of the better teams, and so are we. When top teams meet, there’s sometimes not a lot that separates the two.”

(On if he can recall a time this year where the margin of error has been so thin…) “Obviously, the San Jose game it was pretty thin for us and that was a game we lost 1-0 at home, as well. But this league, everything is really tight. Everybody can beat anybody on a given day, so you’ve got to be on top of your game. … We’ve had a lot of guys that are carrying little nicks and strains. We’re playing a lot of young guys out there. You look at our team and you look at what Andy Rose did tonight. We were bringing in (Alex) Caskey and Cordell Cato off the bench, so they’re all young players and players that don’t have a lot of games in this league and we’re still able to be right there.”

(On Bryan Meredith’s play tonight and on the timetable for the return of Michael Gspurning…) “I thought Meredith did fine. I don’t think there was much he could do on the goal. With Gspurning, it’s a week-by-week thing, so we’ll have to see. This was a week of him just having basically inactivity and then next week we’ll start to do some activity and ramp it up, and then we’ll see.”

(On Brad Evans’ injury…) “He’s got a calf strain, so it’s the same sort of thing — we’ve got to let it calm down. The Vancouver game might be early for him, but hopefully by the time we play Columbus or the game at Chivas.”

(On getting Alvaro Fernandez back tonight…) “It was good. He was unlucky on that one run he made down the right where he beat like three guys and just couldn’t find the space to get the ball over. He was in on the left a couple of times — got behind (Tony) Beltran and hit a good cross, but that was one where neither of the two forwards made a run to the near post, and that’s what sort of bogged us down there. But I thought it was good. He got through it. He felt good, so I think he should be ready to play full-out next week.”

(On Real Salt Lake’s goal…) “You always go back to where you lost the ball. I think we lost the ball a little softly in midfield on that. We had some people open and the decision as to where to play the ball was not a good one, so the ball turned over and we had a couple of turnovers in that period of time — in those three or four minutes from like the 48th to like the 52nd minute we had some turnovers that we shouldn’t have had. That put us on our back foot and then the ball skipped through. We’ll have to watch it on tape to make sure. It looked like (Adam) Johansson was going to get a shot at it and the ball sort of skipped up on him and (Fabian) Espindola reached around and took it fairly well.”

FREDY MONTERO, Sounders FC forward

(After such a busy stretch, do you think fatigue was a factor tonight?) “A little bit. A little bit. But we always tried to win this game. Unfortunately we didn’t score a goal, so I think that’s the big difference. They wait 90 minutes, they got one chance and they put it into the net. That was the difference in the game.”

(On the first loss in a while…) “We were not expecting to lose this game because it’s a big rivalry with Real Salt Lake. We need to keep our head up and look for the next game.”

(On going against the RSL defense…) “That’s the kind of game they like to play — hold the line very high and play physical. That’s all they want. We didn’t stretch their defense. We didn’t have opportunities to score.”

(On being shut out…) “For any team in the league, it’s going to be hard. We know the defenses are pretty tough. … At the end of the day, we gave everything we have. It wasn’t a pretty game for us and we need to keep trying in the next game against Vancouver.”

EDDIE JOHNSON, Sounders FC forward

(Was kept you guy from getting a goal tonight?) “I just thought their back four made it really difficult for myself and Fredy. Whatever their game plan was, it worked tonight. Credit to their back four. They were hard to break down. They were really physical. They really played us out of the game. Saying that, I thought we had some success out wide. Five games in 15 days, we kind of showed the fatigue in the second half. I thought in the first half we were able to be a little dangerous, but as the second half went on I thought we got a little tired. For myself, it was not having enough energy to get on the crosses that were successful crossed in the box. I think on another night we can get something out of that game. But I’m happy with the team. We’re 7-2-1, you couldn’t ask for a better start. Games like this, these are the games we want to win. These are the games in the past that have stopped the team from getting over that hump. Saying that, they only had one chance.”

(On getting a day off and some time before the next game…) “Definitely need the break. Like I said, the boys have put in a lot of minutes over these five games. … It’s not the end of the world. The guys have been on a good run of form. On a better night we get something out of this game — maybe a point, maybe three points — but it just wasn’t our night. They had spells where they had the ball a lot, but never really hurt us. I think they had one goal-scoring opportunity in the game and on another day that ball bounces and goes wide. But obviously it sat up for him to get a goal. I know a lot of guys are down — myself, I’m down — but I thought the team was been playing with a lot of confidence. But credit to Real Salt Lake. They came in and had a game plan and they got the three points.”

ALVARO FERNANDEZ, Sounders FC midfielder (via translator)

(How’d you feel out there in your first game in a while?) “Physically, (I feel good after) playing some minutes. Unfortunately we didn’t accomplish our objective, but at least I played some minutes.”

(What kept you from being able to get that goal?) “They defended very well throughout the game, particularly after the goal they went even further back leaving no space for us to create. Towards the end we were just throwing the ball from distance.”

OSVALDO ALONSO, Sounders FC midfielder (via translator)

(On getting over the injury…) “Yeah, it’s true. I had a little pain last week, but I felt good. I played OK.”

(On first loss in a while…) “This is soccer. We played well throughout the first half but didn’t manage to score. Now it’s matter of focusing on the next game.”

(What does RSL do so well?) “They close very well in the back. They have a very good defense and it’s tough to get in. We know that we can score against them, so in the next game, hopefully things will be better.”

(Are you already looking forward to playing them again?) “Yeah, sure. The best would be to forget about it. If we were to play tomorrow again, I would be happy to.”

(You’re not tired?) “Yeah, but we want to win against them.”

BRYAN MEREDITH, Sounders FC goalkeeper

(On the game…) “I think in the first half we definitely had a lot of possession and a lot of the ball. We had some chances we didn’t put away in the first half. In the second half, it looked much more sluggish. They still didn’t have many chances, though. Unfortunately they were able to get a ball over the top and slot it home.”

(On the goal…) “It was just a giveaway in the midfield and a ball over the top, and Espindola was able to get around Adam and get a shot off. There wasn’t really much to the play.”

(On it being the first goal he’s given up…) “You’re going to give up goals. If you think you’re not, you’re going to be devastated when you do. It happens. You just get over it and get past it and get back to work on Monday.”

(Did you think you could get it?) “I don’t think I had much of a chance on it. It came pretty quick. Unfortunately we weren’t able to clear that ball away and he was able to get a good finish.”

(Where does the team go from here?) “It’s a long season. There are a lot more games to be played. Put this one behind us — as Pete Fewing would say, toss it beyond you — and get back to work on Monday for Vancouver on the weekend.”

(Did fatigue come into play?) “Yeah, I think the whole team maybe in the second half showed a little bit of fatigue. But I think we were on top of them for most of the game. A couple chances we could’ve maybe put away on a different night, but wasn’t our night.”

(Did it feel odd to see the ball go into the net after so long?) “You never want it to go into your net. That’s your job. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do my job completely tonight, but once again you’ve got to toss that one behind you.”

ANDY ROSE, Sounders FC midfielder

(On the game…) “I thought we had the better first half possession-wise and movement-wise and I thought we were looking pretty good, maybe unfortunate not to be up one up. Then we gave away one chance and at this level against a quality side, you can’t do that. You still have to get shots into the back of the net. We got away from what we were good at for a little bit in the second half and obviously it cost us. Now we have to focus on getting over this and off to the next one.”

(On what RSL was doing defensively to stop them…) “They have a solid back four. I have to give them credit for that. I don’t think that they outplayed us back there, but we definitely created some good moments, especially out wide with our wing play. It’s just unfortunate and it definitely hurts.”

(On moving on from the loss…) “It’s a minor bump in the road for us. It’s been a tough five games and to come out of it with a good amount of points and near the top of the table is good. It hurts a little bit not to be on top, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. We’ll get over this one.”

JASON KREIS, RSL coach

(On the match…) “It was a mature performance; they were ready from the first minute. I thought we started out incredibly well over the first 10 minutes and then things went completely the other way and Seattle put us under for the next 15-20. Our guys held their composure and didn’t let it rattle them and in the end got what I think they deserved, which was a win.”

(On the atmosphere…) “My (hat’s) off to this organization and fan group. No question in my mind, the best place to play MLS games. It creates a tremendous atmosphere, a very good atmosphere, but credit to our guys they always get up to play quality opponents at quality venues. Seattle represents both.”

(On Espindola’s goal…) “Very well taken goal. A little fortunate with the bounce. … He took it really well and quicker than Meredith was expecting him to shoot.”

(On Espindola coming back after sitting out Wednesday…) “He had a child last Friday and actually wasn’t at training because he was at the hospital. I made the decision to play him Saturday night, which isn’t typical, but knowing how special those days can be, I thought it could be a really special night for him. It ended out that we had to take him out because of an ejection — tactical substitution — and we gave him a few nights’ rest. He didn’t even travel to Chicago. I thought he was spectacular tonight.”

(On Seattle not having a shot on goal…) “I looked at the stat sheet and saw it … but it didn’t feel that way. It felt like we were under the gun for a long time during the first half and especially during a stretch at the end. I think that’s a bit of an anomaly, that stat.”

(On Schuler coming in at the 30-minute mark…) “Absolutely fantastic — that is not an easy thing to do. Number one, you’re not properly warmed up. Number two, everyone else out there is already flying. Number three, it’s not your natural position. Huge credit to Chris and another representation of how mentally strong he is.”

NAT BORCHERS, RSL defender

(On keeping Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero in check…) “(We had to) make sure we kept as high line as possible without letting them getting behind us. We had to make sure we kept the space compact in front of us. In the first half, I don’t think we did a good job at making that space compact, but in the second half we did a great job.”

(On a rivalry atmosphere…) “To be honest, whenever you play a good team like Seattle, who are at the top of the standings like we are, we’re always going to take the team seriously. There’s definitely some heated moments between their guys and our guys and that’s just how it’s going to be when you have two good teams out there.”

(On Espindola’s goal…) “It’s so big. I’m so happy for him. He got the night off on Wednesday and came out sharp tonight, buried one. That’s what we want to see out of our strikers, playing with confidence — it’s so dangerous.”

FABIAN ESPINDOLA, RSL forward

(On the goal…) “It was a good combination between Luis, Saborio and me. Sabo trying to hold the ball then Luis putting it over the defenders and I finished after that.”

(On the goal being for his newborn son…) “Of course (it was for him). I’m so happy about that. … Every goal is going to be for him now.”

(On the result…) “They are a good team, but I think we played good soccer. We defended our goals after that.”

(On the crowd playing a factor…) “I am used to it. It’s always nice to play against a lot of people, you know. I don’t think that affected us much. For me, no, it wasn’t a big deal.”

(On being back with the team after taking a break…) “It feels great to be back. I was cheering my team — you know I always want to play. It was good to be with my wife and son. Good to be back and score again, too.”

* * *

REAL SALT LAKE 1, SOUNDERS FC 0

Scoring summary:

RSL – Fabian Espindola (Luis Gil) 51′

Seattle Sounders FC — Bryan Meredith; Adam Johansson (Alex Caskey 82), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Cordell Cato 75), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, David Estrada (Alvaro Fernandez 58); Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Weber, Servando Carrasco, Andrew Duran, Roger Levesque.

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Johnson, Montero, Parke 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; FOULS: 13 (Johnson 4); OFFSIDE: 3 (Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Fernandez 4); SAVES: 3 (Meredith 3).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Chris Schuler 20); Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson, Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 75); Alvaro Saborio (Yordany Alvarez 80), Fabian Espindola.

Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish, Paulo Junior, Emiliano Bonfigli, Terakazu Tanaka.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Gil, Johnson, Saborio 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 players, 1); FOULS: 15 (Saborio 4); OFFSIDE: 1 (Saborio 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Beckerman 1); SAVES: 0.

Misconduct summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (caution) 54′

RSL – Alvaro Saborio (caution) 70′

Referee: Mark Geiger

Referee’s Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Mike Rottersman

4th Official: Daniel Radford

Attendance: 39,312

Time of Game: 1:52

Weather: Clear and 69 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

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