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August 31, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Sigi Schmid on Fredy Montero’s form, national team call-ups, injuries, Portland’s hire of Caleb Porter and more

schmid mug.jpgHere is the transcript of a conference call Friday with Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid. Topics covered include Fredy Montero’s hot form, the availability of national team call-ups, traveling support, injury updates, the Portland Timbers hire of Caleb Porter and more.

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(On Fredy Montero’s blistering form…) “I think his form is very good. Like I’ve always said, forwards are a little bit streaky, but he’s very confident right now. His movement off the ball is good, as well, and there’s been Rosales (providing service), Caskey supplying him with a good pass last night. There have been good balls played in, but his movement off the ball has been very good.”

(His last 10 goals or so have come from within the penalty box. Is that a personal change or due to something else?) “I think he’s trying to get into the box, but it’s also the running — him and the other forward. Last night it was him and Ochoa. It’s been him and Eddie, like the one in the Chivas game where he didn’t score but he got ran into by (goalkeeper Dan Kennedy) at the near post. When you look at that play, that was great running. Fredy comes across to the near post, Eddie goes to the back post and they opened it up. So a lot of that is that crisscross running that they’re doing in the box. That’s what’s opening things up and that’s what’s getting them free in the box.”

(Do you expect Mario Martinez and Adam Johansson to be available Sunday with their national team commitments coming up?) “Yeah, both of them don’t need to leave until after Sunday’s game. We’ve spoken to both federations about that and both of them are OK. In fact, Adam doesn’t have to be with Sweden until (Tuesday), but he’ll probably fly out of here on Monday because it doesn’t make sense to go back to Seattle. And we cleared it with Honduras to fly (Martinez) in on Monday.”

(Can you explain what went into your inactives Thursday: Johnson and Johansson staying home and Rosales traveling but not playing?) “It was a matter of (wanting to rest) guys who have played a lot of minutes. Adam’s still been coming off the hamstring (injury) and so we haven’t gone to pushing him into two games in a short period of time. He’s one of the newer guys to the league in terms of travel, so we wanted to take that off his plate. I told Mauro he wouldn’t be playing in Trinidad, but he wanted to travel anyway and be part of the group. So we ended up taking him along rather than leaving him at home, but we were prepared to leave him at home, as well. With Eddie, he’s played a lot of minutes and logged a lot of miles for us, as well, and this is his first full season back. He’s had a little bit of a tight adductor, so our plan was not to play him on Thursday, as well.”

(What have you seen in FC Dallas’ improved play recently?) “This difference for them recently is David Ferreira. Obviously, he’s come back. It took him a few games to get back into a rhythm, but then his rhythm got better. With him on their team, everybody fits into places a little bit better. The structure seems to be a little better, and he’s obviously a player who has attacking abilities and passing abilities. They’ve also been missing Blas Perez. I’m sure Perez will be back against us. He came back in the last game, came off the bench early. I’m sure he’ll start against us, and he’s a guy who’s also very important for them at the beginning of the season. I think having those two guys back makes a big difference. George John is back there in the back, so that’s another player who helps them. And then Brek Shea is back playing, as well.”

(What does Rosales volunteering to travel say about him?) “Or he likes to get away from home. (laugh) … Obviously he wanted to be with the group. I wanted to take the rigors of the travel off his body. After he realized how the trip went and the difficulties of Tuesday, I think if he had to make the choice again he might make a different choice and he probably would’ve chosen to stay in Seattle, and we would’ve understood it. For me, I left that option up to him at the time. I wasn’t going to leave it up to all three guys, so he was the first one who sort of took that and we traveled with him. But not a lot to read into it. The other guys would’ve wanted to be a part of the group, as well. It’s not whether they would’ve wanted to be part of the group. I just didn’t allow them to make that decision.”

(Guys like Michael Gspurning especially have talked about being excited for the CCL. Do you think they’re as excited about it now?) “I think they found the trip interesting. The grass is different; it’s not the kind of grass you’re going to play on in MLS or in a lot of stadiums. So for them that was a whole different (experience). Just the city, never having to been to Trinidad, the atmosphere there, all that was different. I think they enjoyed that part of it, as well. That’s as tough a road trip as we can make inside of our confederation, so for them to have to go through that was a little more difficult than maybe what they would’ve expected. But I still think the benefit for them of just experiencing what’s it like, the refereeing on the road, the flight, being on the road in CONCACAF… to see the different field — surfaces and field conditions — those are all plusses.”

(Can you tell us what Tuesday’s travel day was like?) “Obviously we left Seattle on Tuesday. We had a 6 a.m. flight, which means the guys had to be at the airport at 4:30. So depending on where you’re living, you’re getting up somewhere between 3 and 4 to get ready and go to the airport — that’s pretty early. Then in Houston we got delayed a little bit on our boarding and then United Airlines had I guess a system-wide computer problem that was worldwide for them, where they couldn’t I guess configure their takeoff speed and the weight of the plane and things like that. We basically sat on the tarmac for about an hour and a half, so we were about two hours or so delayed out of Houston. We were supposed to get into Trinidad at 9:15 p.m. their time. We got in at about 11:30 p.m. … And the bus ride was interesting; it was tough not to puke on the bus with the herky-jerky driving. So we got to the hotel I think at about 12:15-12:30. That’s when we had dinner and then guys got to bed around 1:30-2 a.m. So it was basically a 24-hour day. Welcome to the joys of travel.”

(What’s it like having traveling support seemingly wherever you go in the world?) “It was great. We invited them to our hotel after the game and … we bought them a round for their support. But it’s tremendous. When you see them, they have signs and banners and so forth, and what some of the people go through in where they’re staying and how they get to the game, it makes for interesting stories. It’s certainly appreciated. A lot of the guys went over there individually and shook everyone’s hands that came and said hello and talked to them. I think that’s something special, too. I think that’s special about our team and I think it’s special about our supporters. But certainly to have them there in good voice and unison was tremendous. It was a big plus.”

(What did you learn from X-rays given to Andy Rose and David Estrada on Monday?) “Andy’s lungs have improved, so that’s situation has clarified itself. He’s still got pain because he’s got the broken rib, the cracked rib there. For him now it’s just of a matter of (how quickly) it gets better. Each day he feels a little bit better, but he’s probably at about 75-80% right now, so for sure he won’t be joining us here. Then David Estrada showed that it was healing well, so they cleared him to start up training again. I think he played as a neutral yesterday and then played again today I think as a neutral and was feeling much better. He’ll continue to up-train and hopefully within the next week or two weeks he’ll be back out there for us.”

(Both you and Schellas Hyndman have had some success at the college and pro level. Can you talk about what that takes in the context of Portland hiring Caleb Porter from Akron?) “I say the same thing, and not just for coaches: I’ve always said that people that know how to be successful are going to be successful even if you put them in another line of work, because they just know the man-management skills or the ingredients or the work ethic that are required to have success. That’s something that’s there. I think the reason for some coaches being able to come out of the college game and have success, the ones who have gotten the opportunity like Bruce (Arena) and myself and Schellas and now Caleb, is you still have to remember your roster is still going to be 60-70% American players. So (maybe there’s a little better) understanding the American mentality and just man management of those individuals because we’ve dealt with those young American players maybe a little more often than some of the guys who just went from playing pro to coaching pro.

“I think Caleb’s a bright young coach. I’ve had many conversations with him and I’ve known him off and on now for a good bit of time, probably since he got drafted by San Jose, and he was at Indiana, so we had talked a little bit there, and certainly while he’s been at Akron. I probably saw four or five Akron games a year when I coaching at Columbus, and we talked a lot prior to the Olympics, and we talked a lot prior to whether he was going to take the D.C. job or not. He has a pretty set idea in his mind of how he wants his team to play. One of the hardest things going from being a successful college coach, like he is, to going into the pros is realizing you might lose as many games in a month as you’d lose in a season, and sometimes the question is, ‘How do you deal with that?’ I know that’s something that I thought a lot about when I went into the pros — ‘How am I going to react to that?’ — because I was only used to losing one to three games a year. So he’s got to get into that understanding that everybody has got good players. It’s not just, ‘I’ve got a little bit superior talent. I can play in this way and dominate the game,’ because sometimes that way isn’t going to dominate in the pros. Then you’ve got to look for little intangible differences.

“I know I’m giving you a long answer, but I think Caleb will do well because he’s a student of the game. He likes to go observe. He likes to go watch other people train. He’s highly motivated. He’s got a healthy ego and he wants to be successful. I think he’ll put (in the work) there. How it works for him in Portland, only time will tell, because you’ve got to have the right situation and experience within the league and having people that you work with that you’re comfortable with. So as he puts his staff together, those are going to be important decisions for him.”

(Are you happy with where you’re at right now?) “Yeah, we’re pretty much where I wanted to be or where I thought we’d be. If we hadn’t lost Michael (Gspurning) for that stretch of games, I think we’d be in the hunt right now for the Supporters’ Shield, which is where we wanted to be this year. I think that injury hurt us a little bit and we sort of couldn’t shake it for a while. But right now I think we’re playing good soccer. I think we’re playing effective soccer at the right times, as well, because you want to play good soccer all the time, but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way and you have to be effective. So I think we’ve found a pretty good mix of playing (effectively), but I think we’ve also played some good soccer. I think the goals we scored against Chivas were well-taken goals, were well-executed. Even the goals against Caledonia — Sammy Ochoa’s goal came at the end of I think a 10- or 11-pass sequence. So there are times where we’ve done that part of it. I’m pleased. Now we can’t stop and turn around and pat ourselves on our back or else we’re going to lose pace and not go forward. But I’m pleased with where we’re at.”

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