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Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

November 19, 2012 at 2:35 AM

‘We did make progress this year and we went one step further (in the playoffs), but obviously at this stage we’re all disappointed.’

gspurning la.jpgPhoto credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times (full gallery here)

Here are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC’s playoff game Sunday. Seattle won the game, 2-1, but lost the two-game, aggregate-goals Western Conference finals by a 4-2 margin to the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy. The Sounders’ season ended without a trophy for the first time. L.A. hosts the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup on Dec. 1 at The Home Depot Center.

* * *

Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Coach

(Opening statement…) “First of all, congratulations to L.A. for getting to the MLS Cup final. Obviously, the damage was done to us in game number one. I thought tonight we came out and played with good resolve, good energy. I thought we had a goal early from Eddie Johnson; I haven’t seen the replay, so I don’t know if it was on- or offside. Some people have said that it was on. Obviously that would have helped us. We had some good chances beyond that — got one goal, got another goal early in the second half. We felt we were in pretty good shape … that we could get the third. I thought the penalty kick was a little bit of a harsh call, especially when you think of last week in L.A., Sean Franklin had a handball in the box 15 minutes in and there was no call. That’s the way it seems to have gone for us a little bit on the season. Again, we had some good looks and some good chances, scored a goal on a set piece, which we thought was important, and we tried to get some legs on at the end.”

(On 2012 being the club’s first year without a trophy…) “Well, we got further [in the playoffs]. Sometimes you guys felt that the Open Cup wasn’t a worthy trophy, but we got one step further. Maybe we’re the kind of team that’s got to go one step each year. The progress, for me, is in the last six playoff games we’ve played last year and this year, we’ve won three. We’ve won three. We’ve tied one. We’ve lost two. The problem is the ones we lose, we lose 3-0 and we bury ourselves with that loss. But we’re winning 50-percent or more of our playoff games. We’re showing the capabilities that we can win games, we just need to eliminate the losses by the size they are. I mean L.A. lost their first playoff game against San Jose and came back to win. If we would’ve lost 1-0 in L.A., we’d still be out there on the field playing.”

(On hand ball that caused the penalty kick…) “I thought it was a harsh call because there was nobody in the box. He wasn’t passing it to anybody. All [Robbie] Keane was looking to do was maybe draw a penalty and try and hit it into his hand. He’s a clever player and he did well, but on the same token it’s like … ‘Is it taking away an opportunity?’ What opportunity was there? There was no opportunity. Clever move on his part. I don’t know how far out [Adam] Johansson’s hand was or anything, but sometimes common sense might say that’s not a PK, whereas in the case down in L.A., Zach Scott crossed the ball and Franklin leaves his arm out and keeps the cross from going over and we had people in the box. Different, but clever on his part.”

(On taking Fredy Montero out…) “Just felt we needed a little more energy. I thought David [Estrada] could give us some of that. David had a good opportunity to finish towards the end, as well. Fredy had some opportunities in the first half, we just felt that we needed to put a little more pressure on their goalkeeper chase, get some fresh legs in there.”

(On the biggest difference between this game and the first game…) “I think we stayed with our tactical plan. Obviously, when they don’t have [Landon] Donovan there, they’re not as dangerous, so that helps us a little bit going into it. I thought we did a better job of making sure that they didn’t get out on the counter on us. That was something that we didn’t do well in L.A. in that second half. The other thing was being able to have two strikers from the get-go, put some pressure on them helped us, as well.”

(On Mauro Rosales being a last-minute addition to the 18…) “Yesterday when he had trained, he felt he needed to be 100% going into this game, didn’t feel he was quite 100% when he trained before the game today. Everybody though he looked good and I went back to him and said, ‘Look, maybe I need you for 15-20 minutes. Can you play?’ And he said yeah, so we changed that around. But yesterday he didn’t feel quite up to it; today he felt better about it.”

(On Zach Scott’s game…) “Obviously, he scored a great header on the corner. He gave a good pass to Eddie for the assist. I thought Zach was pretty solid. I thought it was one of, if not his best game of the year. I thought he was very good. He was good defensively and he was good with the ball.”

(On his message to the team after the game and looking forward…) “The general message to the team was we have to eliminate those 3-0 losses because we’re showing that we can win playoff games. That was the general message to them, to understand that we did make progress this year and we went one step further, but obviously at this stage we’re all disappointed. We need to make sure that the energy with which we played tonight is the energy that we play with all the time. Sometimes that’s hard over the course of a 34-game season, but it’s something that we need to bring all the time.”

(On the offseason schedule…) “We have to talk to some players, arrange some interviews and so forth. We’ll take care of all that. We’ll establish a schedule in the next few days.”

(On how the result affects his plans for the offseason…) “You should never make your decisions based upon one game. You make your decisions based upon the season, so you look at what somebody’s give you over the season — consistency of effort, quality of play, all of those things and you make decisions based upon that. In this league, you also have to make decisions based upon the salary cap and, ‘Does it work or does it not work?'”

(On a fourth place and a fifth place team playing for the MLS Cup…) “It’s always been like that. Last year when the Galaxy won the Supporters’ Shield and the Cup, I think that hadn’t happened for four years prior to that. I think it was us in Columbus in 2008, and prior to that it was the Galaxy in 2002. When you look at it, in the last 10 years the team that won the Supporters’ Shield has only won the Cup three times. You have to look at that, but that’s what the playoffs are. Are the best teams always in the Super Bowl? I don’t think the New York Giants were the best team over the regular season last year, so that’s what happens. It’s a separate competition.”

Eddie Johnson – Sounders FC Forward

(On how he felt after the goal went in…) “It felt good. We knew in order to give ourselves a chance that we were going to have to have a good start to the game. It would’ve been good to get two before halftime, but we couldn’t get that second one. I felt like we controlled the game from the first whistle until the end of the game. Sometimes in life you work so hard, you put everything out there, and things just don’t go your way. I know each one of us can look ourselves in the mirror and know we gave it our all. We played a complete game. We couldn’t have done anything better. We wouldn’t change anything about tonight. We created chances, we worked hard, we controlled the game, we put them on our terms, but sometimes in soccer calls don’t go your way. [Robbie] Keane has been on fire throughout the second part of the season, and in the playoffs, and big players step up in big moments. Those PKs aren’t easy. He made it, hit it with a lot of confidence, and he kind (stabbed) our hearts at that moment. We worked so hard, and we felt like we had finally gotten ourselves back in the game, and it was painful today. Credit to them. They’re a good team and they got the job done in the first game. When you put yourself in a difficult situation against the defending champs, it was tough to get back.”

(On what the season meant to him…) “This was a good opportunity for me. I couldn’t ask to be with a better team, in a better environment, or in a more professional organization. A good coach, a good group of guys, and if it wasn’t for these guys, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today. Coming in and being the new guy is difficult. Sometimes it takes you a season to adapt to the style of play they like to play, but we had a good group of guys, and they have been spot on with me from Day 1 to today. It was a pleasure to work with these guys and I look forward to it next season.”

(On the offseason…) “I think in the offseason we’re all going to go and get away from soccer. Yeah, I’m looking forward preseason. I had eight months off before this season, so I don’t really want a break. I’m enjoying soccer right now. This is a tough way to end the season, but I’ve got a lot of soccer left in me.”

(On what was there tonight that was missing last week…) “We had a good 45 minutes in L.A., but we just couldn’t finish our chances. I think tonight we got opportunities and we finished them. We gave ourselves a chance. I think the hunger in the box, and making the most out of our opportunities, that was the difference tonight. We put them on our terms and if that call doesn’t go against us, we would’ve scored another goal. I think the attitude, the commitment, we always respond when we are facing adversity. We always know how to turn things around, and we couldn’t have asked anymore from ourselves. We had a good week of training. We did everything right tonight. Sometimes when you work hard, usually the calls go your way and not against you. Unfortunately they went against us tonight.”

(What was the hardest part about tonight…) “We just worked so hard. Everyone had individual goals, and mine was to win an MLS Cup. I have never won an MLS Cup and I don’t know what it feels like. We were lucky enough to work with Jim Madrid, a sports psychologist, and he always told us to write down affirmations. Yeah, we want to win an MLS Cup, but what does it feel like? How do we get there? What do we have to do? Before every game I ask myself those questions and I write ’em down. How can I be effective in this game? What can I do for the team tonight that’s going to give us an opportunity to win? I think the most painful thing is that we aren’t going to the MLS Cup. We all cry, we all have feelings, and we are all human beings. That hurt today man. It still hurts. I’m probably going to cry some more later on, but it’s soccer. There is no success without failure. Hopefully we can get it right next year.”

Zach Scott – Sounders FC Defender

(On the result…) “It played out kind of the way we expected it to. We were going to put them under a lot of pressure in a tight game. We really wanted to get near the goal, and we had a chance to get two of the goals. We got the one that we needed to keep the momentum going our way. We knew we were going to get a goal on a set piece, and we were fortunate there. It was a big whole to climb out of, and I think we all realize the importance of playing to zero on the road. So I think we are a bit disappointed there, that we found ourselves in such a big hole, and in the end we wanted to leave it all on the field.”

(On difference between this week and last week…) “We were a little relaxed at times in L.A, I don’t think we necessarily played bad, but I think we gave a little too much time and a little too much space. Today, we played with the right mentality, the right approach to the game, but it was something we needed to do, and it was a little too late.”

Steve Zakuani – Seattle Sounders FC Midfielder

(On the importance of tonight…) “Tonight was important. I love this city, I love this organization, and I love the fans we have here. It hurts me as much as it hurts anyone else, but I think we just need to take this offseason step by step and see what happens. I was just happy to get back on the field tonight. I wanted to show that nobody is going to question whether I can still play or not. I don’t think anyone can ask that question anymore. I gave it all for the team tonight.”

(On how you felt tonight…) “You can go back before I was injured and you won’t find many better performances than the one I gave tonight. Tonight was an important game. It was arguably the biggest game in the franchise’s history, because we were that close. I think everybody stepped their game up, and we had to. We gave everything we had against L.A., and it’s just unfortunate that we dug such a big hole because you just cannot do that against a quality team like LA. But LA would tell you that they were in a game tonight. We had the ball in the net three times like we needed to; Eddie wasn’t offside. I have not seen the replay, but I was on the pitch, and from what I saw he wasn’t offside. At 2-0 we felt great, but then the penalty. I haven’t seen it, but whether it was or wasn’t, it just killed our momentum because at that point they score and then we need two more just to force extra time, and it was tough. But we still had quality chances, we gave everything, and I played my role. Everybody played their role and that’s all you can do. I’ve said for the past two-, three months I’ve been ready. People were asking me and I was just waiting for my opportunity. I wish we would have won he game tonight, but personally I’m satisfied I was able to get back on the pitch this year and we’ll just go from there now. It’s disappointing, but everyone connected with the Seattle Sounders tonight can hold their heads high because we went a step further than we ever have in the playoffs, we got back to the Open Cup finals, and we have a good group of players. We are a team to be reckoned with. L.A. is not an easy team. That’s a very, very good team to play against and they’ve beaten most teams in this league, so we are proud of what we did well, but we have a lot of work to do still.”

(On how it feels to do so much and still come up short…) “It was too much of a hole. We still believed. I still think that we could have beat L.A. by three like we needed to. We didn’t come into the game hoping; we really believed we could do it. I know I did. But, like I said, you can’t get Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and David Beckham, whoever, Omar Gonzalez, a 3-0 head start. If they gave us that same thing it would have been the same for them. You can’t give quality players a three-goal start. Playing them at 0-0 is hard enough. We just gave ourselves a hole, but it’s similar to last year against Salt Lake. We came back and showed that’s not a team that’s three goals better than us. We’ve got to figure out why that happens, why we went to L.A. and fell apart like that. We have to figure that out, but we can be proud of what we did. We were among the top four left in the playoffs and one game away from hosting MLS Cup, and that’s got to be the goal for next year. We have to go the next step further and get to MLS Cup. What’s going to happen, we don’t know yet, but I think we can be proud definitely.”

(As good as you’ve been this year?) “I said two or three months ago, I’m ready to play. You can ask my teammates how I’ve been training, how I’ve been playing. I’ve been feeling great. When I first came back in July, obviously that was a bit premature in terms of where I’d be. I always said I would just need games. I just needed games, and I wasn’t getting a lot of games recently. It was just what it was. The last time I played was against Marathon and I thought I was OK. I had to just bide my time a little bit, and it is what it is. At the same time, tonight was the biggest game in this club’s history in the sense that we were one step away from MLS Cup, going into the game I knew I just had to give everything I had. For 80 minutes, I just gave everything I had. A year ago, I was questioning if I’d play again, so to come back today and play like that, I don’t think anybody is going to question, ‘Is he going to come back?’ You just watched that game. Those questions people kept asking me were just fueling me. I proved to everyone that I’m going to come back from the injury, I’m going to come back and reach my previous level. You can go back and watch all the tape I had before the injury and you won’t find many performances like that against a quality player like Sean Franklin, a quality team like L.A., so that should put all that to rest. Now with the offseason and the preseason, I’m not going to go backwards. I didn’t have a preseason this year. I didn’t have training camp. I started playing in July. At this level, you need that base of fitness that I didn’t have. At times, it worked against me, but that won’t be an issue next season.”

(Be in Seattle for offseason?) “I’ll travel. I’m here 11 months of the year. I’ll go home, see friends and family in London. Travel around. See the world a little bit. Get away. Then we’ll sit down with management as usual, like you do every year, we evaluate when they see and what you see yourself, and then you see what happens.”

(Looking forward to not having to talk about the injury?) “It’s natural. People will ask those questions. It was a horrific, I understand that. But in my mind, you have to understand that I’ve been training for two months. I remember how I was just before I got injured and I knew my level was getting to a high place. I felt like that for a long time. I think tonight I wanted to prove to myself that I could go against probably the top right back in this league — one of them. He has been for a few years. We always had some good battles before, and I could go at him. That’s it. All questions answered.”

Osvaldo Alonso, Sounders FC midfielder

(On the game…) “I’m very happy with the way we played today, but disappointed we lost in the conference finals.”

(Was it a matter of the first loss being too much to overcome?) “Yeah, we lost 3-0. It was a big loss there. We came here and did everything we could to win the game, and we won, but it wasn’t enough to go to the next round.”

* * *

SOUNDERS FC 2, LA GALAXY 1 (LA advanced 4-2 on aggregate)

Scoring Summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (Zach Scott) 12′

SEA – Zach Scott (Christian Tiffert) 57′

LA – Robbie Keane (PK) 68′

Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson (Mario Martinez 74), Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Christian Tiffert, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani (Mauro Rosales 81), Fredy Montero (David Estrada 73), Eddie Johnson.

Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Leo Gonzalez, Andy Rose, Sammy Ochoa.

TOTAL SHOTS: 13; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 1.

LA Galaxy – Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas, Christian Wilhelmsson (Juninho 62), Edson Buddle (Michael Stephens 84), Robbie Keane.

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Perk, Andrew Boyens, Bryan Gaul, Pat Noonan, Jose Villarreal.

TOTAL SHOTS: 5; SHOTS ON GOAL: 2; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDE: 8; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 3.

Misconduct Summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (caution) 68′

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 74′

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90+5′

SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (ejection) 90+5′

Referee: Mark Geiger

Referee’s Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Gregory Baker

4th Official: Ismail Elfath

Attendance: 44,575

Time of Game: 1:53

Weather: Rainy and 48 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

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