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Sounders FC

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

June 27, 2012 at 9:24 PM

A full transcript of coach Sigi Schmid’s conference call Wednesday

schmid mug.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid held a conference call Wednesday to talk about Tuesday’s big Open Cup win, a trend of ugly postgame scenes, Saturday’s game in New England, Germany’s chances in a Euro 2012 semifinal against Italy, some injury updates and more.

Here is the full transcript:

* * *

(Can you address what happened at the end of last night’s game, particularly what happened with Eddie Johnson?) “It’s tough to comment on it because I didn’t see it all. I just saw the very beginning of it and so forth. I think Eddie was very happy that we had won the game. The fans in San Jose — I know for me personally, always as a coach in the years I’ve coached — they’ve always been the most abrasive fans. They’re always attacking my heritage and things like that, so it’s sort of a different vibe sometimes. So he was after the game pounding on his Sounders logo and was proud that the Sounders had won. Unfortunately he did that in front of their fans and he was sort of in front of their bench, at which time I told Brian (Schmetzer), our assistant, ‘Brian,’ I said to Brian, ‘just get Eddie out of there.’ And then somebody pushed Eddie at that point. I’m not going to say who it was from their side who pushed him, and then at that point I was engaged in conversation with (San Jose coach) Frank Yallop, and Brian had a hold of Eddie, so what happened after that I really can’t tell you because me and Frank were in a dialogue at that point.”

(You played some guys Tuesday who hadn’t seen a lot of time. Do you think that will continue with a crowded schedule coming up in July and August?) “Well, when you’re playing your second game in 48 hours, the most important thing for us was to be fresh on the field and have guys who could compete. It was also a very spongy field; it was a small field, so it was going to lead to a lot more combative-type play because there were going to be a lot more duels. So we decided to go with a lineup that was a little bit bigger, a lineup that we felt could hold up to that play and, on the same token, not play guys who physically would put themselves in big jeopardy if they had to play. So that’s the guys that we went with. Every game we’re going to try to put the lineup out that’s going to help us win the game and is going to make the most sense in terms of avoiding injuries, as well. So you have some of those guys you’re going to see as we move down the line. Some you might see more, some you might see less.”

(What did you think of Brad Evans and Cordell Cato on the right side of the lineup?) “One of the reasons we went with as Brad a right back was we felt we needed to rest some of our defenders. We knew Brad could play right back. We knew it was going to be an aerial game and he was a good header of the ball, so keeping him on the field was going to help us. Cordell did a good job of going at (San Jose defender Justin) Morrow. Morrow has got good speed, but Cordell has good speed, as well. Brad did a good job of finding, not sometimes Cato, but sometimes (Sammy) Ochoa, who could then slip Cato in on that right side. So I thought even though Cordell is not a super tall guy, he’s pretty strong, he’s pretty powerful, he jumps pretty well, so we felt he could do well in that environment, also. I thought they did okay. I thought they both played well.”

(What did Cato show you in his biggest test so far?) “He’s a player I think we can count on. It started a little slowly for him in preseason; he had little niggling injuries that he had to learn to overcome, and just the daily training of what it was like to be a pro and the change in training style in MLS versus what he was used to coming from Trinidad. But we always had a lot of faith in him because of his physical capabilities. He’s a very humble kid who comes to work when he comes and trains. What it says about Cordell is he’s a guy who can help us because he brings speed onto the field, just like when he come on in Dallas and he set up the first goal to Fredy Montero. He can impact a game because of his strength on the ball and his speed.”

(This is maybe the third game in a row where there’s been a dust-up at the end. Do you feel that’s a sign of anything?) “I’m not happy with it. It’s something we’ve talked about as a team and we talked about it again last night briefly after the game and we’ll address it again. It’s important for us to maintain our composure. I think different games take on their own persona, if you want to say that, and I think because of the field — the size of the field, the way the grass was, the sponginess, them playing two guys up front like (Steven) Lenhart and (Alan) Gordon — it was going to be a game where the ball was going to the be in the air. So as a result of that, it leads to a lot of duels and a lot of battles, so things get a little more heated. How well did the referee control the game? It seems like the last three-, four games I’m not quite sure. As an example — I’ll just use one example — is when Roger Levesque got fouled in the second half and Justin Morrow stands over Roger and is taunting him for what seemed like 15-, 20 seconds. I think if the referee comes over and very decisively gives him a yellow card right away, but it took the referee like 45 seconds before he decided to give Morrow a yellow card, and all those little things just fuel the fire of the game that was already going on. But it’s not something that we want to do. It’s not something that I’m happy about. It’s something we need to get away from. But when somebody kicks you, then your first reaction is you sort of want to kick them back at some point. It’s easy to say, ‘You shouldn’t do that.’ Sometimes it’s hard when you’re in the emotion of the game to not do that, but it’s something that we as a team need to become better at and not allow teams to take us out of our game.”

(Do you think there will be some carryover from Tuesday’s win into Saturday’s game?) “What was important from the game from our team’s perspective I think were two things really. One was the character that we showed. I think we showed a lot of character and a lot of resiliency getting back to the idea and the understanding that we have to be a tough team to beat. I’ll be the first one to say it wasn’t our best soccer of the season, for sure, but right now we needed to establish again that hard work with maybe average soccer has a chance to win. Great soccer with not enough hard work underneath it — you have a better chance to lose. And hard work with good soccer gives us an excellent chance to win. So what we’re trying to work toward is hard work and good soccer, but our emphasis on Tueseday was let’s get the hard work part done and then let’s keep adding the soccer on top of that. So from that standpoint, we hope that that carries into our game on Saturday — that we understand that the hard work has to continue and continue to improve our soccer.”

(You weren’t quite able to turn Open Cup wins into MLS success after the earlier rounds. What is different this time to make sure that’s the case?) “The big difference is this win is a lot different than the other two wins. The other ones came against an NASL team and came against an amateur team that was on a good run. This one came against a team that right now is No. 1 in our league, that everyone has in their power rankings as the No. 1 team, a team in San Jose that expected to win, obviously was disappointed that they didn’t win in that game, that had rallied from behind in their last two-, three games to snatch victory. So for us to go on top, to dig in, bunker in at times, and pull out a victory was a lot bigger than the other two Cup wins because we know we beat right now the best team in MLS in a valiant, courageous effort. Hopefully that will provide us some backdrop as we move forward.”

(This isn’t Johnson’s first postgame issue. Have you talked to him about it?) “We talked briefly and we will talk some more. I’ll take care of Eddie Johnson. I just don’t like it when other teams are trying to take care of my players. I don’t try and take care of their players and I don’t need them trying to take care of my players.”

(Will there be internal discipline in this matter?) “Not knowing exactly what happened… His reaction right after the game was at the wrong place. If he does that reaction in front of our fans — it’s perfectly fine. It was just at the wrong place. But if people are embellishing things, I don’t know, should the guy who embellishes also get punished? Probably, but I don’t know if that guy is going to get punished. I didn’t see it, so all I have is accounts from different people, but it’s not just from players and so forth. It’s something that we will deal with internally and we’ll take care of.”

(What can you tell us about New England and might Gillette Stadium be a good place to go to avoid another emotional scene?) “No, not really. I think Gillette, the way they’ve changed the configuration around, it’s a lot more intimate than it was a few years ago. I don’t know what kind of crowd they’re going to have this weekend, but it hasn’t been like it was two-, three years ago. It’s definitely been a stadium that’s had more atmosphere the last couple of years. New England has done well. I think they’re an improved team over the last year. Saer Sene, the forward that they brought over from Bayern Munich, the French player, has done well for them. He’s a big, strong target. They have a very flexible midfield in terms of Lee Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie (Joseph) and Clyde Simms. Kelyn Rowe, when he’s healthy, mixes in there. They seem to interchange an awful lot. They pop up at different places on the field. They’ve had a pretty consistent back four. I think (Kevin) Alston, (Chris) Tierney, (A.J.) Soares, and (Stephen) McCarthy have probably started 90 percent of their games as a unit together, so there’s definitely some understanding there amongst that group, along with Matt Reis. They’re definitely an improved team over last year and we have to be ready for that game. But the key for us is going to be just like it was in the San Jose game — that we don’t take the first goal. That was the emphasis because we’d been doing that and that we try and get the first goal, because that changes everything.”

(This was a down team in the locker room in Portland. How will this win help?) “I think the win yesterday definitely helps our mentality. You saw the guys were disappointed after the Portland game because they’re a proud team and they know they’re capable of more. I think they showed their character in San Jose in a tough environment and in tough circumstances of having to play a game so tight to the game in Portland. I think that’s something now we can build upon and that will help us as we move forward.”

(Is Germany going to beat Italy in the Euro 2012 semifinal?) “Of course. (laughs) It’s going to be a tough game for them because Italy is always well organized and doesn’t give much up. And they’ve actually done very well in this tournament. I think Germany really wants to get another shot at Spain and this would be the third major tournament that they’ve played Spain. I’m sure they want that confrontation to change things around a little bit. I feel Germany has a very good chance to beat Italy just because of whoever they start offensively, they’ve got people they can turn to off the bench that can make a difference, as well.”

(We saw Michael Gspurning downgraded in the latest injury report, has anything happened in his recovery?) “No, it’s just he’s been out so I just said, ‘Well, I might as well list him as being out.’ Actually his recovery this week has gone very (well). Today was basically an off day for him, but I think he did about 60-, 70 balls of handling yesterday. He was doing simple handling work. His running has been increased every day. The exercises that he’s been doing, his total workout time has increased every day, and he feels good. He feels sore from doing the workout, but not sore as it relates to the (hip) injury, so we’re very encouraged about that. He’s made good strides, so when we get back we think next week then becomes a week where he can work with (goalkeeper coach) Tommy Dutra and then we’ll have a better idea of how much longer it should take.”

(Did the anticipated physical nature of the past two games play a part in Steve Zakuani not being available?) “No. Again, we try to evaluate his situation, as well, and I know he’d been working really hard again and pushed himself into the 18 for the one game — then like I said I didn’t play him because of the physical nature of the Kansas City game. Because of the hard work that he does, he needs to plateau a little bit again, and then we’ll push again. So it had to do a little bit with his plateauing and also a little bit was just the physical nature of the game, as well.”

(You mentioned you were talking with Yallop at the end of the game last night. What was that dialogue about?) “It was just a discussion we had about what happened at the end. It wasn’t anything major. I’ve known Frank a long time. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and I know the players like him and respect him, the players that have played for him. It was more or less an exchange of, ‘I’ll take care of my guys, you take care of your guys.’ It was that kind of an exchange.”

(How is Adam Johansson doing?) “He’s with us here in New England. We didn’t feel he was quite ready for the Open Cup game on Tuesday. We feel that there’s a chance that he should be to play on Saturday.”

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