Much of the attention from Sunday’s practice went to coach Sigi Schmid’s comments regarding the U.S. Open Cup draw, but there was more from the day, as well. Here are some other notes after training at Starfire:
* * *
— First off, Schmid was asked if he thought anyone made the most of Opportunity Week in Friday’s reserve league. The coach mentioned that getting Mike Seamon 45 minutes at right back was something they wanted to look at (he was more needed at midfielder in the second half). Schmid also said it was good to see the academy kids: “I thought (Aaron) Kovar did well when he played wide and (Dom) Dismuke came in and did well in front for us. I think those guys did well.”
— Schmid also praised goalkeeper Andrew Weber for making “a couple of big saves to keep us in the game at an early stage” but hinted he might’ve done better with his positioning on the second goal allowed. Asked if the performance had altered the conversation for which goalkeeper starts Tuesday against Cal FC, Schmid said they always reflect upon that. “But we haven’t made a final decision,” he added.
— The next question was about Steve Zakuani‘s night Friday and if it affected any timeline on his return. “I think it’s as much physical as it is mental at this stage for him, just like (Michael) Tetteh coming back from the long hamstring injury,” Schmid said. “I don’t think (Tetteh) sprinted the whole game and just wanted to get through the 45 minutes. So now, OK, you go through it, so now you can push a little more. I with think with Steve it’s the same thing — OK, you got through these 45 minutes, you got kicked, you got tackled and you had a couple chances.”
— Schmid said they played Zakuani as a second forward so he’d have a little more freedom to go forward. With Seattle starting young Jacob Beck at left back, they feared Zakuani might be forced into too much of a defensive role on the left wing.
— “How do you feel today?” That was going to be the big question for Zakuani on Sunday in the team’s first action since Friday’s reserve game. Schmid said initially Zakuani was looking to do a light/regen day, then he felt he could do a little more and, ultimately, he ended up finishing the whole practice. “That’s a big point of it, too,” said Schmid, “is how quick your recovery is, which is all part of the process of getting fitter faster.”
— Even though the team doesn’t have another reserve game until Aug. 6, Schmid said they’ll find ways to get Zakuani game action (e.g. scrimmages against the U-23s). Once the CONCACAF draw comes out Tuesday they’ll have a better idea of when to schedule matches for depth players.
— Zakuani mentioned Friday that he’s going to have to play before he’s 100 percent. In that context, Schmid was asked how he’s going to determine whether the midfielder is able to play, say, 10 minutes off the bench. “It’s a combination of a lot of things — what we see, how he feels and whether he’s ready,” said Schmid, noting there aren’t any precise measures. “Once he’s able to go through a regular weekly training routine without any second thoughts of ‘we need to back off today’ or whatever, then that puts him a lot closer. He’s accurate. No player ever coming back from injury is 100 percent until he plays a couple games.”
— Back to Tuesday’s Open Cup game against Cal FC, Schmid said he’s able to play a potential first-choice starting lineup if he so chooses, particularly since the team wouldn’t play again until June 16 in Montreal.
— The silver lining to Osvaldo Alonso‘s MLS suspension has been his availability in Open Cup games. Schmid said the star midfielder probably wouldn’t have played against Atlanta had it not been for being suspended for the Chivas USA game. “He competes every time; he wants his team to win,” said Schmid, calling Alonso a leader by example. “When he steps on the field for the Open Cup, it’s a boost to our team because he’s a competitor.”
— Some eagle-eyed viewers noticed Eddie Johnson might have been getting some treatment after coming off at halftime against Atlanta last week, so I asked the coach about it. “He felt a little bit of tightness and we felt there was no reason to try and push it,” said Schmid. “That’s where we’re at right now. A player like (Mauro) Rosales, as well. Last year we brought Rosales back from an injury, and I wanted to make sure he got some time and some rhythm, and he gets kicked in the last game and misses the playoffs. With players like him and Eddie and (Alvaro Fernandez) or any of those guys right now, we’re trying to make decisions on the side of being conservative rather than being aggressive because we have a little bit of time.”