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May 18, 2012 at 11:58 PM

Friday notes: Sounders take to BC Place

05182012 montero.JPGThe Sounders made the trip north to Vancouver on Friday afternoon and held a training session at BC Place. Reporters were allowed in for the final portion of the proceedings and here are some notes gathered at the renovated downtown stadium:

* * *

— It looks like nearly the whole team made the trip, which isn’t entirely unexpected since it’s a lot easier to load guys onto a bus than buy extra plane tickets. The only guys weren’t there that I saw are all recovery from injury: goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip), defender Patrick Ianni (back), midfielder Steve Zakuani (leg) and forward Babayele Sodade (knee). While guys like Brad Evans (calf) and Leo Gonzalez (quad) made the trip, I don’t expect much involvement from them in Saturday’s 2 p.m. game.

— There were a couple takeaways from the Sounders’ first time at BC Place. Both Roger Levesque and Jeff Parke jokingly took notice that the rubber in-fill for the Polytan artificial turf is brown instead of black. “They really thought that one through up here,” Levesque said while laughing. “We’re a little behind on that.” Parke described the surface as “weird”, “a little bit different”, “a little bit stiffer” and not as “rubbery” as the turf at CenturyLink Field, but said he heard it’s a good surface when watered down.

— Both Levesque and Parke also made reference to the low-hanging video-screen that they felt was in range. “They told me not to kick the ball too hard against the scoreboard, otherwise it might come down,” Levesque joked. Added Parke: “We’ve been punting balls up there.” It was expected to be raised a little before kickoff.

— Coach Sigi Schmid had this take on the turf: “It’s similar. I don’t care what kind of turf it is, when it’s in its first couple of years, it’s fine. When it gets into Year 3 and definitely into Year 4, it’s terrible. I don’t care what the manufacturer is. Once the blades lay down, they lay down. But every turf’s a little bit different on the field. This one’s a little shorter, so the ball runs a little bit more. Our guys just having to get used to it in terms of crossing and things like that, so that’s what we worked on today.”

— Reviews for the venue were generally quite good. Levesque called it awesome. “It’s beautiful what they’ve done with the place,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it full tomorrow.” Added Schmid: “It’s nice. Obviously you’ve got a controlled climate and the elements aren’t going to be a factor in the game. … It’s loud; the sound’s going to stay in there. When the fans are here, it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

— And the field dimensions? “It’s not like Houston or Portland,” Schmid said, “where they make the field small on purpose.”

— More after the jump…

— It sounds like Andrew Duran did indeed forget his passport when the team was initially gathering for the bus ride to Vancouver this morning (as Evans tweeted here and here). Fortunately for the rookie defender, he lives nearby to where they were meeting and was able to retrieve it before the drive. “He came across the border as John Smith,” Schmid joked.

— Schmid was hoping to record the UEFA Champions League game Saturday and escape without hearing a result (the odds of which he described as “probably impossible”). Unfortunately for him, the game will be shown on the video-screen at BC Place before the game. When told of that news, Schmid smiled and said, “That could be distracting.”

— Levesque, for one, can’t wait for backup to arrive Saturday: “We’ve got a big group of Emerald City Supporters coming up tomorrow, taking buses. There should be a lot of green in the stands as well as the blue and white. I’m looking forward to that energy and seeing this place rocking.”

— Parke sounds ready to go: “It’s going to be a tough game. They’re a good team; they have good players, Eric Hassli is a good player and strong — he had the good goal this last week. … We’re up here for a battle and I think we’re up for it, up for a challenge.”

— Here’s Schmid on Hassli: “He’s a horse. He’s big, he’s strong — he’s willing to try those unbelievable goals. I used to have an assistant coach who used to say, ‘Dare to be brilliant.’ If you don’t try that, you can never score a brilliant goal. There’s a lot of guys who will trap that ball (Wednesday) and try to do it two-touch. If you want to score a brilliant goal, you’ve got to try that once in a while.”

— The Whitecaps have been much better this year at 5-3-2, one win away from last year’s total. They’re also a couple games removed from their last win in all competitions. Doesn’t matter either way, according to the Sounders, which was the focus of my story for Saturday’s paper. “When there’s a rivalry game … I think all that stuff kind of goes out the window,” Levesque said. “Regardless of what the teams are or the momentum they have coming into it, it’s going to be a battle regardless.”


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