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October 23, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Sigi Schmid previews the CCL game, pitches some Sounders for postseason awards

schmid mug.jpgHere is some more from Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid after Tuesday’s practice:

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(It’s got to be nice going into this one not needing a win…) “Yeah, it’s nice, and we’re going to look at the results tonight. So we’ll get an idea of how many points the group winner has out of Salt Lake’s group, how many points the group winner will have out of Houston’s group … Monterrey’s group, as well. That will give us an idea a little bit of what the point totals are and that’s the thing that we’re looking at more so than anything. But it’s nice to be able to know that we can play a bit of a mixed lineup tomorrow. Obviously we still want to come out with a result. We want to get on top early and take their enthusiasm for the game away early.”

(Does last year’s experience of losing favorable seeding to Monterrey in the last CCL game come to mind?) “Yeah, we would’ve had a different draw for sure. Obviously this is a different opponent, and Monterrey was a team that was also moving on, so it was a different scenario last year. But obviously we want to put ourselves into the best position going into the quarterfinal round — getting the most points. The way it’s shaped up this year, you still have a couple Mexican teams like Chivas and Tigres that can get through as group winners with a low point total. So maybe if you end up with a high point total, you end up with them at the other end. It’s a 1-8 seeding, so we’re going to take a pretty sharp pencil to it and see what makes sense.”

(What’s the balance of playing hard defense in CCL and being called for all these PKs?) “Obviously we’ve been the penalty kick givers in the CONCACAF series, but we want to make sure we still play good defense and we’re still tight as to what we do. I think a couple of calls were maybe a little bit harsh, but a couple of them were deserved PKs. We’ve got to make sure we don’t give away PKs — it’s as simple as that. Last time we gave them two in the game down there and we just have to make sure we have honest defending, that we run with people, that we cut the play earlier up on the field, that we don’t wait until it’s in our 18-yard box before we make the decisive defensive play. So for us, we have to do that in the earlier parts of the field.”

(You’ve talked about Michael Gspurning deserve Goalkeeper of the Year consideration. Do you think some guys deserve Best XI consideration?) “Yeah, I think there are guys that deserve that. I think Michael is definitely somebody that’s got to be considered. I know he missed a part of the season for injury, but it’s like, ok, if everybody who misses games for injury is immediately eliminated from consideration for postseason awards, then you’d have to eliminate a lot of guys. Then they should say this is the ‘Goalkeeper of the Year Who Played the Most Games.’ It’s the same thing. We have other guys that I think have had good seasons. Obviously Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero have had good seasons up front as a combination. There’s a lot of competition because obviously Wondolowski’s had a fantastic year with goals and other people have scored goals this year, as well — Henry, Cooper, people like that. So that’s a very competitive situation. Alonso is somebody who I think is one of the best midfielders in this league. He definitely deserves some consideration, as well. You know there’s Rosales, there’s Evans, there’s Tiffert … I end up going through the whole lineup at the end of the day, because I think for us we want to be successful as a team. That’s the most important thing. As the team has success, then individual ability shows through a little bit clearer and cleaner, and then you get a little bit more rewards. When you’re not having that team success, then people kind of look past your individual players, as well.”

(How about Eddie Johnson as Comeback Player of the Year?) “I’m always a little uncertain how that award is defined. In the first years of the award, it was really coming back from an injury. Then it just meant coming back from a bad season. Then it meant just coming back. (laughs) Not being here and then coming back. Certainly Eddie didn’t come back from an injury but he certainly has come off a season that wasn’t so good for him the year before. He certainly has come back into the league and made a big splash, so Comeback Player of the Year is definitely something he should be considered strongly for.”

(How would you evaluate Alonso’s year and how he’s progressed?) “It’s good. Every year he becomes a little steadier, a little smarter in terms of what he does. But he still has that tenacious character, that ability to win balls back, that ability to recover balls and intercept passes in the middle of midfield. He’s added more offense to his game. Sometimes now he’s trying almost too much a little bit — he got caught against Dallas a couple of times spinning and turning in midfield. That’s just that he’s very confident, and that’s a good thing. I think he’s added to his game every year. He’s added to his game in terms of decision making. Every year he’s added to his game in terms of his passing ability, and he’s added to his game every year in terms of his range of passing.”


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