Here are some late notes from Wednesday:
* * *
— Eddie Johnson‘s injury has been clarified as an adductor strain. It was previously believed to be a hamstring strain, and his timeline for return is no different. Asked for another Johnson update after practice, coach Sigi Schmid said the forward was doing OK: “We’ll see each day. We’ll take it day by day. Today he did some work inside, so we’ll see how he feels.”
— I followed up by asking how the Sounders game plan changed in games Johnson wasn’t able to play. “We don’t try and change our style too much,” Schmid said. “Every time you play, you try to take advantage of the talents and the abilities that the players on the field have. If you’re playing with Sammy Ochoa instead of Eddie, Sammy’s good with his back to goal, he’s good at connecting back again and running off. He doesn’t have that breakaway speed to get in behind, so you try and get the ball a little more to Sammy’s feet. If you’re playing with (David) Estrada, he’s busy, he’s active, he’s trying to stretch a defense, so you play him a little more into spaces. If it’s a (Steve) Zakuani, you want to get the ball to his feet and isolate him against guys. It’s the same 4-4-2, but it’s the ability of the individual, and you try to take advantage of his skill set.”
— About 30,500 tickets have been sold for Friday’s home playoff game versus Real Salt Lake, we were told by a team spokesman. CenturyLink Field’s capacity is set for about 35,000. Tickets can be purchased at SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
— At one point during his group interview, Schmid seemed determined to point out that the Sounders’ lack of playoff success shouldn’t go hand in hand with saying they’re not a good team. “I think we’ve shown ourselves to be a consistently good team, and we’ll continue to do that,” he said, “but yes, we need to win a playoff series. We need to move on. That’s our next goal. That’s our next stage of evolution.”
— Asked about how Marc Burch has done as the starter at left back with Leo Gonzalez still recovering from a hamstring strain, Schmid said he’s done well: “Obviously there was a period of time where he wasn’t get a lot of games, but he was able to stay fresh with the CONCACAF Champions League games and also a couple reserve games.”
— GM Adrian Hanauer chatted for a bit and called 2012, so far, “a very solid year.” He also called the Sounders maybe the best seventh-place team there is. “I guess we’ll get to prove that in this playoff series,” he added.
— Midfielder Steve Zakuani offered thoughts on whether he’d prefer the first or second leg at home. “In my personal opinion, it’s better to start at home,” he said. “This league is so tight that in the second leg, if you’re coming from a deficit, it’s very tough. Last year, we almost did it. Starting at home with our fans, the energy is here, the city is buzzing, the players are ready — I think it’s a good matchup.”