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September 21, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Coach Sigi Schmid on the big San Jose game, injuries, Marcus Hahnemann and more

schmid mug.jpgUPDATE 3:57 p.m.Schmid told KIRO’s Bill Swartz that Sammy Ochoa will indeed start for the suspended Eddie Johnson. The coach also said Christian Tiffert is “ready to go” and will play in midfield after missing a game with an ankle injury. Mauro Rosales is “not quite there,” according to Schmid, and could miss his third-straight game with a quad strain, it seems.

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid spoke with reporters after Friday’s practice. Here is the full transcript:

* * *

(Is this pretty much do or die to stay in the Supporters’ Shield race?) “Yeah, I think for us to make any run at the Supporters’ Shield, we need to win this game on Saturday. More so than anything, it’s a good measuring stick for us — a measuring stick for them, as well. It should be a great game for the fans and for the league. It’s a game that we’re looking forward to.”

(Is this starting to develop into a rivalry?) “I don’t know. … They’re a team that’s a good team and our games with them this year have been close. Every game has been close. Everything has been a one-goal game with last-second victories, with a victory where a team holding on, with maybe a questionable call in another game — so all the games have been close.”

(What is it about their tendency for scoring late?) “As a team, you develop a belief over the course of a season. They’ve developed that belief. They’re a good team, they knock the ball around, but when it gets late into a game, sometimes they go with the two targets up front — Lenhart and Gordon, the two spearheads — and they become very direct in their play. They’re good and quick at trying to get onto the second ball, winning knockdowns and creating havoc in your box. There’s an energy that they bring into the game in the last 15 minutes. There’s a belief that they have now and a confidence that they have, which comes from winning games like that. It’s all those things together.”

(How do you combat that?) “You try and certainly match their energy and so forth, but it’s a matter of just being patient, holding onto the ball. When you look at their games — not just their games against us, but their games against other teams — they become very hectic. Maybe that’s a nice word to say. It becomes hectic and physical and there have been a lot of scrums and scuffles and things like that, and that comes because of the energy that they put in. It’s like almost an us-against-the-world mentality, which is sort of the mentality that they’re playing with. That’s just the way it is, and to combat it we just have to make sure that we bring the same amount of energy but on the same token keep our heads about ourselves.”

(With Eddie Johnson suspended, is Sammy Ochoa in line to start?) “Sammy’s an option. David’s making good process; Estrada is there. Mauro has played up front for us, as well. So we’ve tried different people. Shoot, we’ve played Evans up there before. So you never know. We’ll keep that a secret.”

(How does that change things tactically?) “It doesn’t change things all that much for us tactically because I think the key for us anyway is to keep the ball moving. If they play with Bernardez and Opara in the back, those are strong guys. We don’t want to be playing balls in the air anyway all that much. We want to play balls to the feet of our strikers, so it doesn’t change anything tactically.”

(Is their also motivation from below you in the standings?) “There’s always motivation below, but more than anything it’s just about us continuing to do the things that we want to do — continuing to play well, continuing to achieve our goals. One of our goals is to finish no worse than second in the West, so getting three points in this game is important that way, as well.”

(What are you biggest concerns with San Jose?) “That we don’t get caught up in their physical play. We’ve got to keep our wits about us. We’ve got to keep our heads about us. We’ve got to make sure that we stay focused on playing the game. We’ve got to be tough, but we’ve got to make sure that we focus on the game and that we play soccer and that we move the ball. Our movement of the ball is something that’s very, very important. The other part of it is we have to make sure we do a good job getting the second balls, because they’re a good team at getting that second ball. They’re used to running off balls that are hit to Gordon or to Lenhart and they’re also a good team in terms of pressing you and putting pressure on you as you’re trying to build up. So for us it’s important that if we can get onto the second ball, hit a good first couple of passes and break that immediate pressure, then that helps us.”

(How’s Marcus Hahnemann doing and might he play in Sunday’s reserve game?) “He’s coming along fine. (We) haven’t made a decision yet on Sunday with him. That’s something we’re going to talk about and we’ll see. But he’s making good progress, worked hard early in the week, backed off a little bit and he’ll work hard again this weekend.”

(How are Christian Tiffert and Mauro Rosales?) “Good. Tiffert and Rosales are both right there. It’s a decision that we’re going to make today and decide which way we’re going to go.”

(What’s it like not having another flight for five weeks?) “It’s nice. It’s nice to be able to be around for a while and not to travel, although the travel down to San Pedro Sula, the way we broke it up and stopped in Houston, I thought worked out very well. I thought the team responded well down there, but it’s nice to be at home for a while.”

(You gave up a couple more leads in Honduras. Any concern that that’s becoming a trend?) “No, not really. Obviously the first one I think was a PK. The second one I’m not sure if it was a PK or not. From our standpoint, we’re playing against a team that’s desperate, that knows a loss or a tie pretty much eliminates them, so they’re a team that’s playing at home and (with) a lot of energy. They’re very desperate. Dallas was a team that was very desperate. Portland was a team that was very desperate. You’re playing against those kinds of teams. Now you can say, ‘OK, the same thing happens in the playoffs,’ but … it’s like that old thing in betting: You never bet against the team that has to win. When teams have to win and the other team doesn’t necessarily have to win, there’s always a subtle difference sometimes in focus and concentration. It’s something that if would be taking losses or really be collapsing I’d be worried, but I’m not worried.”


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