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August 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Sigi Schmid previews Saturday’s game with San Jose

One more time: Thanks for bearing with us as we try to make due without Josh. I’m back in Seattle and must move on to other assignments, but I did want to give the Sounders FC blog something before I left. Here are some quotes, provided to us from California by the Sounders today, from coach Sigi Schmid previewing Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. match with the San Jose Earthquake.

We are having a stringer cover the match on Saturday, which means the blog will be a little silent. I’m willing to try to do what I can to fill the gap, but I have a project due in a few days and my attention must turn to that. However, if there are things Josh normally gives you before a match that are musts for you, I will do my best to come back here and satisfy those. Just let me know your wishes. I know it’s frustrating not having your full-time guy, and the unfortunate reality of cost-trimming newspapers today is that we don’t have general-assignment reporters to serve as backups on beats. But I love the passion of this fan base, and if you’re willing to be patient with me, I’m willing to do what I can while working around some other things.

Before I sign off, one final thanks to readers for being so supportive of me the past few days. In particular, the live chat during the U.S. Open Cup final was awesome. I look forward to writing a lot more about the Sounders in weeks to come — as a columnist, though, not as Josh’s bloggin’ understudy.

Here’s Sigi:

On recovering from Wednesday’s loss in the Open Cup final: “We haven’t really talked about it yet. I think it’s important at a time like this … to give people a little bit of space so everybody can get it out of their system in their own way. We know there’s a lot more games. There’s a league championship still ahead of us — we can still focus on that right now — and we’ve got to get ready for this game Saturday. It’s a big game.”

On the lineup for Saturday: “This is their [second] game in two weeks and it’s our fifth game, so it makes a big difference. The team that we’re going to put out there — we’re not sure exactly right now, I can’t tell you right now what our lineup is. There will be some fresh faces that didn’t play on Wednesday night, for sure. There will be some guys that did play on Wednesday, who put in a lot of minutes that are going to be asked to put in minutes again, so it’s going to be a combination of that. But are we going to be the sharpest that we could be or the best that we could be? Probably not because we’re going in under different circumstances, but we’re going to be competitive and we’re coming in to get a result.”

On the importance of Saturday’s game for the Supporter’s Shield: “San Jose has played well, has gotten good results, and is the front-running team right now for that. But now they play all their games against Western Conference opponents. Who knows how many points they’re going to give up or not give up? It’s tough to tell. For us, the Supporter’s Shield would be a nice thing and three points here would be nice. What we look at more is trying to win the season series with each team we play against. So for us to be able to win the season series with San Jose, we need to come up with a win or a tie [Saturday] night. That’s our objective. We look at more short-term, near-term type objectives, and if we can achieve those objectives then the Supporter’s Shield will sort of fall in, as well.”

On the rivalry with San Jose: “I think rivalries get created when good teams play each other. So when you look at rivalries around — yeah, there’s some rivalries that you think are created because of proximity, which they are at times. Usually the rivalry really becomes a rivalry when both teams involved are quality teams and the games take on even greater meaning and then there’s something there — either the proximity of the teams or because they’ve continually done battle like a Celtics-LA Lakers type of thing. Over the years, then it becomes a rivalry. I think San Jose this year is an excellent team. I think we’ve been pretty consistent over the last four years, so it’s definitely turning into much more of a rivalry than it was in the prior years.”

On San Jose’s ability to score late goals: “I think they’re a team that keeps coming at you. They’re a team who, definitely, their depth has improved, so they have the ability to bring on subs at the end of games and not detract from the quality of their game. So when you’re bringing on — I guess he’s out with a red card — an Alan Gordon or you’re starting a Rafael Baca and bringing on a Simon Dawkins, or you’re starting Dawkins and you’re bringing on a Baca or somebody like that, you’re bringing on players who are fresh and can impact the game in the last 15 minutes and so forth. So I think that’s allowed them to score some goals at the end of games. I think they’ve been able to maintain pressure on teams because they go into more of a direct attack at the end of games, sometimes they go with the double spearheads up front of Gordon and [Steven] Lenhart, who do a good job of contesting balls and winning balls, so the ball ends up being in front of your goal a lot. It’s not by accident, it’s because of their quality and the way they plat at the end of games.”

On the remaining paths to the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League and the importance of qualifying again: “It’s important for our club to get into that tournament because it’s something that we always want to participate in and represent Seattle on a regional basis. I guess the paths are Supporter’s Shield, or winning MLS Cup, or being runner-up to MLS Cup — getting to the final. That’s really our path, but that’s our goals anyway. We want to win MLS Cup, we want to get to the Cup final game, and if we do that we achieve a path into CONCACAF, as well.’

On how not having qualified to CCL through the Open Cup affect the rest of the MLS season: “I don’t think that’s the additional focus, necessarily, that will propel us. I think maybe the pain of losing the Open Cup final is something that may help propel us once we get into the playoffs of the MLS Cup in terms of, ‘Well, we don’t want to feel that pain again.’ In the past years, we’ve felt the joys and enjoyed the fruits of our labor in the Open Cup, so maybe that … took the edge off a little bit as we went through the MLS. Now having gone through that pain, maybe it puts the edge on us as we go to the playoffs. Either way, at the start of this year, we decided that was something we wanted to do much better in, and this just adds extra fuel to that.”

On the strong potential of facing San Jose in the playoffs: “We’re going to have deal with San Jose at some point, obviously, to get to MLS Cup. That’s why I said winning the season series with teams is important to us. Again, as I said earlier, it’s a unique game because we’re going into the game with much different preparation than they are. We have to rely upon our depth and play who we think can help us produce the result that we need. Our motivation has to be there all the time. Sometimes there’s extra motivations going into games that players find that they can draw upon. It’s something that’s been there. We knew that these stretch of games were going to be demanding and difficult, but they’re also games that we’re going to win. We’ve won most of them. Unfortunately, we tied in the Open Cup and lost on PK’s, but we want to win here in San Jose.”


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