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October 18, 2012 at 12:05 AM

Gspurning: “We showed great character today. … It’s the perfect moment, right before the playoffs, to have a game like this.”

gspurning rsl.jpg

Photo credit: Colin Diltz, The Seattle Times (full gallery here)

Here are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC’s 0-0 tie Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake. Seattle had to play a man down for most of the game after Zach Scott was sent off in the 30th minute. RSL maintains a three-point lead for second place in the Western Conference.

* * *

Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Coach

(Opening statement…) “Proud of our team. I thought we had to play the game under very difficult circumstances with the amount of players that were missing, but also playing a man down. I thought our team showed a lot of character. We battled. We created some counter-attacking chances. We knew were going to give away some possession in the second half, but I thought our team held solid. Obviously, Gspurning made a few big saves at the end of the game, and when added time is added to added time it makes it more difficult.”

(How do you think the game was officiated?) “I don’t want anymore questions about (referee Ricardo) Salazar, but the thing is, our fans know his name. I don’t think many fans know the name of the referee. I think that’s an indication. How that’s not a red card on Schuler… I didn’t know Borchers was that fast that he was able to get in behind him. I thought that’s a last-man foul, and it’s not a red card? I’m not going to argue the red card on Scott. I do have a problem when you put two minutes of extra time on and they take the corner at two minutes and 30 seconds at the end of the game. So it’s like, ‘OK, we’re going to give them another chance to score.’ I just thought we were hard done by the officiating all night in certain regards. There was a handball in the box. I haven’t seen the replay — I don’t know if that was a handball — you guys know better than me on the one shot that Fredy hit. So that could’ve been a handball. It just seems whenever there’s something 50-50 obviously we don’t get the break with him.”

(On the makeshift defense…) “I thought they did well. Brad Evans, we needed him to play right back and he had to play center back. I thought he did a good job back there. I thought he played well. I thought Michael Seamon came on and did well for his first appearance of the year and coming in and having to play right back. We asked Tiffert to play a little bit differently today because we had to change it so we put him a little more on the left side from start to finish. I thought he did well. I thought everybody responded to the challenge of having to play a slightly different position. Obviously, I’m pleased with that.”

(On being aggressive offensively despite being a man down…) “Yeah, we were trying to go for the win. We were trying to counter and get our opportunities on goal and get in behind. I thought Fredy did a good job of trying to stretch them. We brought David [Estrada] in at the end — a little more work rate — hoping he could do the same. We were maybe a little less successful at doing that toward the end of the game. We went at times and told them to make sure they countered with the appropriate numbers. There were times that Ozzie would go, or Rose would go, or Tiffert would go and we still left ourselves secure with at least six guys back there.”

(On a third-straight shutout…) “It’s important for the playoffs. You have a game like this, and Lord help us if we get Salazar in the playoffs. You have to be able to come through a battle like this under these obstacles, and to play to zero is an important thing. We feel confident in our ability to get goals and I think if we had played even we would have gotten some. I thought defensively we’ve been pretty solid the last three outings.”

(On the injury status of Steve Zakuani, Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado…) “We don’t really know. Zakuani has an oblique muscle [injury]. Patrick Ianni has a calf that he injured the day before the game. Obviously Eddie Johnson will be back and Johansson will be back for Dallas. Kennedy was fitted with a mask that he felt comfortable with before the game. He only worked out with that a little bit before the game and I didn’t feel comfortable for him to try and play 60-70 minutes with that mask — that’s why we didn’t sub him on. He’s going to train with that over the next couple of training sessions and if he’s comfortable, he feels good about it, he feels safe while wearing it, that might allow him to come back in.”

(On adjusting after the red card…) “We made the sub before halftime to bring [Michael] Seamon on because we thought it was better for us to get the back four organized the way we had to. It was unfortunate for Ochoa that he had to lose minutes in a game because of that. You try and make sure you get to halftime, we talked about it how we were going to try and counter in the second half and we were able to talk about some things then.”

(On Michael Seamon playing right back…) “We thought he played enough games at right back that it was worthwhile to put him in there, because he’s got enough experience. We pondered for a second do we bring in [Jhon Kennedy Hurtado] and slide [Brad] Evans back out and move Seamon to midfield. That was something we thought about towards the end of the game, but again we decided with Jhon, because he really hadn’t trained since he had the facial fracture, so we decided that wasn’t the optimum thing at this point.”

(On the play of Michael Gspurning…) “It’s superb. I think there’s a consensus in this league that somehow thinks that [Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy] Nielsen is the Goalkeeper of the Year. I think if you look around, Michael Gspurning’s goals-against average is better than Nielsen’s. I don’t know where he is when you look at the amount of shutouts he has to games played, but he’s probably at a higher percentage. I don’t know where save percentage is, but for me, Michael’s been everything we had hoped for and everything we expected of him. For me right now, he’s the Goalkeeper of the Year in this league. I think he’s the goalkeeper that’s been the most consistent. We had one bad stretch — that was the stretch where he was injured. When you look at our record when he’s played, I don’t there’s a goalkeeper that can match that record. I think the fans out there and the media in other cities need to do a little bit of research and homework before they cast that vote when that vote comes up.”

(On Gspurning’s lack of highlight-reel saves…) “Here’s the thing: He makes a couple of big saves, highlight-reel saves and so we think it’s his best game, but the reason he doesn’t have to make a lot of those saves is his positioning is good and is solid. As a result of that, he hasn’t been forced into a lot of those saves. I think you have to look at a lot of those games and say, ‘Hey, that was solid and that was good positioning,’ and today he had to make a couple of good reaction saves and was able to come up with them. The low shot that he sort of got his foot on and then wrapped it up, the one late in the game that he deflected around the post, the one he tipped over the bar — I think there’s probably four big saves I can think of.”

(On playing more direct vs. RSL…) “Nah, today we were forced into it. Obviously with the red card fairly early that forced us into playing a little more direct than we wanted to. When you look at our lineups against RSL, we haven’t really been able to field our top lineup. We either had a couple different people in midfield or had some different people up front. As a result, maybe the cohesion hasn’t necessarily been there. But we certainly think pace-wise, and Fredy’s not as (fast) as some of our other forwards, but he’s got enough pace. We certainly feel that with pace we can get behind them and cause them some issues. Their outside backs push up, so as a result of that, there’s a lot of space to attack into.”

Brad Evans – Sounders FC Midfielder

(On general game impressions…) “I think the only other time we went down a man this year is when we got crushed in Montreal, so maybe thoughts of that lingered in our heads a little bit. We’re coming in on playoff time so I think everyone knows, especially coming off of a week-and-a half long break everybody should be fresh, everybody should be ready to play 90-plus regardless of what happens — whether you’re playing 11-11 or 10-11. It’s just great determination by the guys tonight. I thought there was good thinking and good communication between midfielders, just letting them kind of build the ball and picking and choosing the right times to go. Everyone was on the same page. Looking back on it now, it’s going to help us going forward. Results like this, we’ll remember these going forward so I thought it was good.”

(On the injuries and absences of guys and what they were able to do despite all of those things…) “We played I think 29 different lineups, so it’s nothing new for us. I think it’ll be different if we had played 28 games with the same guys then all of sudden somebody is put in the mix and you’re not use to playing with them, but everybody is used to playing with each other in different roles and different positions. At practice we play the game, 5-on-5 and teams are totally random, so you can end up with five defenders and five attacking players. So you just have to figure it out and play that role. When everybody knows their role it makes things easy, especially when you’re playing out of position and understand that role. It’s only going to benefit us. Those are the types of guys that the coaching stuff and front office brought in — smart players who can play multiple positions. It doesn’t do us any use if we just have three center backs and that’s it. When you have guys who can play multiple positions, it helps us out.”

(On the three-straight shutouts and how important it is to keep that streak going…) “It’s great; especially tonight I thought it was a big one. It’s something that is going to become important, especially if we end up tied with Salt Lake, the shutouts are going to come in handy. We have to play to zero, and we got a couple of chances tonight playing a man down even saying that, so that’s something positive, as well. We can still be better I think at certain times holding the ball in their half and not pressing so fast. Three shutouts going into the playoffs, we still have two games left and we have to get results because teams are still close so we have to focus on Sunday now.”

Michael Gspurning – Sounders FC Goalkeeper

(On getting three straight shutouts…) “We had a great team effort today. Three shutouts aren’t coming from nothing, so we know that we have great organization, but now everybody is waiting for the playoffs. We have another two games before the playoffs and we all know that one game in the playoffs can be very tough, so we know we have to keep working. It showed great character of the team today and we’re very proud of the team.”

(On him having a lot of different combinations and defenders in front of him…) “Yeah we had a couple of injuries and all of the guys who were playing like Jeff [Parke] who has a couple of stitches in his head. We shouldn’t forget about this and it shows how good are squad is from the number 12 to 25. Everyone can be helpful if we go into the playoffs so that’s something we can build on it.”

(On the tough shots he faced during stoppage time and how important it was to get those stops…) “Not just the defense, the whole organization of the team was good. Salt Lake really didn’t know what to do for a long period of time. I’m happy that I was there in the situation to make that stop.”

(On playing down a man…) “It’s a really long time to play with 10 men, but we showed great character today. … It’s the perfect moment, right before the playoffs, to have a game like this. We all know the playoffs can be totally something different, but yeah, it was a good fight from us today.”

Michael Seamon – Sounders FC defender

(On this being his first opportunity to get in the game in difficult situations and what were his instructions going into the game…) “They just said keep it tight. In the reserve games I like to go forward and get some crosses in and they said don’t really do that, just sit back. If I could rush them a little bit then go, but stay behind the ball. A couple of times I did that and it worked out pretty well. I did get up the field a couple of times. But mostly they wanted me to keep it tight. We were playing to zero and hoping that we could sneak one in.”

(On this being his first experience of the year and the pressure of that…) “For some reason I had a feeling today would be the day. When I walked in the locker room, the way people were saying hi to me, everything was different and I actually stopped and was wondering why people were talking to me like that. It was just completely different, and it did happen to be a different day because I got in the game.”

Jason Kreis – Real Salt Lake Head Coach

(On result…) “A result is a result. One point was our baseline objective coming into the night, we felt if we could get one point, we could control our own destiny in the last week of the season, and make sure we don’t have to play that wild card game. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, look at it and say being up a man for sixty-some-odd minutes, we probably should score a goal. Credit to Seattle, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to break a team down that is that committed to making sure that they get the point that they so desperately needed.”

(On missing players…) “It’s a bit of a challenge, especially the first two [Will Johnson and Alvaro Saborio]. Will is the type of player that when he gets time and space can run the ball at defensive players in the midfield and make them choose — I think we were just missing a little bit of that tonight. With Sabo, we all know what an important player he is for us, with the way he holds the ball up for us and gives us a target to play to up front and with his finishing touches around the goal. That doesn’t take away from the efforts that everyone else gave us tonight, everyone had another positive performance in my eyes.

(On red card…) “I think it was a straight red card. I don’t think there was any question about it. It was a very, very dangerous tackle that stopped an attacking chance, so for me, no decision necessary there. For the penalty kick (the Sounders wanted), what’s interesting that led to that play, was Montero pushing Olave over, so we don’t want to get nit-picky. What are you doing not making that call?”

Tony Beltran – Real Salt Lake Defender

(On general game impressions…) “When you have a man advantage, of course, you always want to take care of the win there. I thought we did a pretty good job managing the game and they didn’t get too many chances. You’ve got to be careful because sometimes you can go to sleep, defensively… from that aspect we did well.”

(On Seattle’s aggressive play…) “Seattle’s a team that’s never going to give up, especially with this crowd behind them. We’ve got a history of pretty good games between us, so I’m sure they have that in the back of their mind; they want to get some revenge for us knocking them out last year and getting a win this year on their field earlier in the year. Good for them. They never went to sleep. They never made it easy for us.”

Javier Morales – Real Salt Lake Midfielder

(On RSL not being able to score, even with a man advantage…) “We tried to score for 65 minutes. It was tough, because I believe that Seattle, they [were] down a man and they sit back and just wait. We tried to find a space to score a goal, but we couldn’t.”

(On whether RSL is happy to leave Seattle with one point…) “No. We came here to try to win the game. We tried to do it. Like I said, we tried to find the space. We worked hard to try to score a goal, but we couldn’t do it.”

(On whether he thinks more goals will be scored if RSL and Sounders FC meet in the playoffs…) “I believe because it’s going to be different. It will be do or die. I think it’s going to be different and it depends on who finishes in the second place and the third, so it’s going to be very important. Now we’re in the second place and maybe we have to play the last game at home. I hope we try to beat them if we have to play Seattle again.”

* * *


Scoring summary:


Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Brad Evans, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales (Alex Caskey 80), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Christian Tiffert, Fredy Montero (David Estrada 76), Sammy Ochoa (Michael Seamon 40).

Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Servando Carrasco, Cordell Cato.


Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Chris Schuler 46), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (David Viana 82), Johnny Steele, Javier Morales, Fabian Espindola, Emiliano Bonfigli (Sebastian Velasquez 71).

Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish, Yordany Alvarez, Kenny Mansally, Enzo Martinez.


Misconduct summary:

SEA – Zach Scott (caution) 10′

SEA – Zach Scott (ejection) 30′

RSL – Tony Beltran (caution) 45+1′

RSL – Chris Schuler (caution) 51′

SEA – Christian Tiffert (caution) 67′

Referee: Ricardo Salazar

Referee’s Assistants: Corey Rockwell, Jeff Hosking

4th Official: Tyler Ploeger

Attendance: 38,356

Time of Game: 1:53

Weather: Cloudy and 55 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.


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