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August 19, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Steve Zakuani: “Games like today help my confidence and help show that I’m maybe not too far off.”

zakuani mug 2012.jpgSounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani scored a pair of goals to help lead Seattle to a 3-2 comeback win Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Reserve League. He also went a full 90 minutes in his second-straight reserve game. Here’s the transcript of a group interview with Zakuani after the game:

* * *

(Does scoring your first goal, and second, feel like any weight off your back?) “No, not really. I just think we didn’t really play that well in the first half, and I wasn’t good in the first half, so we wanted to come out in the second half and give a better showing for the fans. And I think we did that. We came back twice and then won the game. It was just about scoring for today, not for anything else. I just wanted to score to help the team today.”

(It looked like your top speed was there today…) “Yeah, I’ve had it. The only thing is going to be just getting match fitness and match sharpness, that’s all I’m missing. Everything else is fine. But I think this is a tough pitch to play on. The ball bounces around and they were pressing really hard. Like I said, first half I couldn’t get into the game — lost a lot of balls — but I think our second half and as the game went on we got more space, I was able to run a bit more and we got some chances. We could’ve had more.”

(Think this shows Sigi something?) “I’m with Sigi every day. … He’s known me since I was playing at Akron, so I don’t think there’s anything new I can show him. All I can do is make him maybe think that I’m a little bit more ready than he maybe thinks I am. That’s what I can do. Like I’ve said, I’ve been wanting to play for a long time, and I understand it’s a process, but games like today help my confidence and help show that I’m maybe not too far off.”

(Are the ECS turning you into a Depeche Mode fan singing “Just Can’t Get Enough” in your honor?) “(laughs) A little bit maybe. A little bit.”

(On interchanging as a left winger and withdrawn forward with Mario Martinez…) “I understand his position — when you come into a new team. I want him to be comfortable. We started him in the middle because we knew also in this kind of game out wide is going to be tough, because you get pressured up and the ball is bouncing. So he went out in the middle. Second half he wanted to start on the left, I went in the middle, and then halfway through we switched again. So it’s kind of just that we both can play in both places, and I just want him to be comfortable, so I kept asking him, ‘Where do you want to play?’ It’s not easy when you go to a new team. You don’t really know him too well and he doesn’t know us, but he did well.”

(Is your preference to play on the left or up top?) “Like I’ve said, I’ll play anywhere. I think I’ve always been a winger in this league and I always will be, but that position takes a little bit more fitness than playing up top, and that’s what I’m missing. Like I said, I don’t think I have my fitness back to where it should be — even match sharpness and awareness. That comes. Now I’ve played the Vancouver reserve game here, Colorado, a few minutes against Chelsea, San Jose last week and today. That’s not a lot in 17 months. I think people can understand that it’s going to take me a while. But I’m happy, and the more I can play, the closer I’ll get and the quicker it will happen.”

(We’ve talked about benchmarks before in your recovery and you’re saying these weren’t any extra special?) “No, I honestly would rather have had a full 90-minute performance and have not scored than to have just (a good) 45 minutes. The first half wasn’t good. Second half was a lot better and it’s good to get goals obviously for confidence. But no. I’m more focused on getting my touch right and finding passes, not losing balls, and holding the ball — that kind of thing means a lot more to me at this stage. Goals will come.”

(You’ve mentioned your fitness. Was it then encouraging that your best minutes were later in the game?) “That helps. I did it last week: I went 90 minutes. I went 90 minutes again this week. Like I said and keep saying, it’s not like I’m 10-minutes fit. No. I’m fit enough, but the game demands a lot and every game is different. I should be able to do 90 minutes regardless of what game it is, and I’m getting there. My confidence is getting back and the more I get used to being a game situation against different opposition — it takes some getting used to — the better I’ll be.”

(Did you second goal on the back post feel like that one you had against Houston last year?) “That’s a Fredy Montero goal. (laughs) ”

(What did Sigi tell you afterward?) “He said he likes the guy he saw in the second half. I agree. Not the first half, though. That was it.”

(You almost won a header on a corner kick too? Adding to the arsenal?) “(laughs) You saw that, huh? … You never know…”


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