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February 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Transcript of a conference call Thursday with Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid

Local reporters just held a conference call with Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid, who is down in Tucson with the team for preseason preparation. Here is a transcript:

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(How did you feel about the physical nature of Wednesday’s game?) “Sometimes games go that way. I always say, and I’ve said it to you guys before, games take on their own personality. I think there was an early tackle in the game from AJ Soares, where he kind of came through Mauro Rosales right at midfield there, and that was a little bit of a harsh tackle. Mauro was on the ground for a little bit of time, but he wasn’t hurt, and I think the game carried on from there. But it was just one of those games where that’s the way it went. It’s certainly not something we want to have happen that way. We took (Osvaldo Alonso) off the field at the point after his tackle, and obviously the last harsh tackle in the game was (Sainey) Nyassi’s.”

(How did the Mikael Silvestre trial come about? Was it always the plan to take a look after Portland?) “It was something we worked out. We have the discovery (rights) on him, but they had brought him in. So we felt since he was here, let’s make sure that we get a look at him, as well. They really didn’t talk to us before they had decided to bring him in, and in deference to the player, we didn’t want to cause an issue with his trial with them. But we wanted to have a look at him, so we saw him in that game and we’re able to have him in with training with us, as well, and play a game for us.”

(What are your plans for Saturday and next week? Will reserves see more time with so many games?) “It’s probably going to be a little bit of a mix Saturday for us. We tried to push our starters through 60 minutes or so in the game Wednesday. We’ll try to get them probably another 45 on Saturday and then hold them until we play the Veracruz on Friday. So the reserves will play the second half. The reserves will play the majority of the game the following Wednesday and then will go on Saturday, as well.”

(What updates can you give on Mario Martinez and Christian Tiffert?) “Martinez should be here today; (he) had some things that he had to take care of in Honduras before he came up. So he was able to take care of those and he’s now on a plane and he’ll be in tonight. Tiffert stayed behind. He’s working out at Starfire and making progress.”

(Are you concerned there will be a difference in quality playing second division team in Veracruz in preparation for Tigres UANL?) “There’s obviously a difference in quality between Tigres and Veracruz. There’s a difference in quality between Tigres and some other teams in the Mexican first division. What’s most important for us is to play a team that plays in the style of a Mexican team. Obviously with their schedule and their games, it was not going to be feasible or possible to bring up one of the first division teams. We were fortunate last year when we got to play the game against Chiapas. That wasn’t something that was going to work out this year, so we wanted to take the best alternative available to us. We felt playing Veracruz is a better option then maybe playing a team from another Central American country. We felt it was a good option.”

(How do you balance prep for CCL and MLS at the same time?) “Well, it’s really one in the same. The MLS game comes first for us, ahead of the Champions League game, because it’s the first game we play. So we’ve got to prepare for that game first, and within that preparation we’re also preparing for the Champions League. It’s a little bit delicate in terms of, ‘Are we fit enough that early in the season for guys to come and play 90 minutes and 90 minutes within four days of each other already and be at a really high level?’ That’s something that we’re going to determine over the next 10 days or so. Maybe the opening game in MLS will be a little more of a mix then it maybe would normally have been, but we’re really preparing for both at the same time.”

(What did you see out of David Estrada at forward yesterday?) “What David always brings is David brings energy, and that energy causes problems for an opponent’s defense and unbalances them because there’s this guy who’s very active and is all over the place. He’s hard sometimes for the opponents to pick up and mark, and sometimes he chases down maybe even lost causes, but the other thing is he’s always in a position that if we get struck, there is somebody who we can target a ball to that we know is going to put some pressure on the opponent and give us a chance of being able to get the ball out of our end of the field if we get stuck with it. I think David did a good job. I think he made some good runs. I think he was active and created some space for Eddie, as well, with the work that he did.”

(Do you get more defense out of that position with him?) “Well, it’s part of what he brings. They went into a 4-3-3, and because they went into a 4-3-3, we always tells one of our forwards to drop in a little bit, and David is the one forward who drops in a little bit and deals with their defensive midfielder who goes deep for them. David, again, because of his fitness level and his activity, chases more of those things down than most forwards do. So he doesn’t play a different role than we ask any other forward to play in that same position, it’s just his fitness level allows him to execute it probably a little bit better.”

(Any update on Kevin Durr’s availability in the long term for you?) “No, not really. He’s on a break right now where he’s allowed to train with us for two weeks without impacting his schooling at the Air Force Academy. So for him, we just want to take a look at him. It’s a difficult situation for him, probably a little unfair for him, because we’ve already been going for two-, three weeks, and for him to catch up with the speed of play — especially coming form a team like Air Force — is difficult. But he’s going out, he’s working hard every day, and we really haven’t pursued the next step at this point. It’s something that we’ll talk about toward the end of next week.”

(What can you say about how Djimi Traore has done and the team’s interest in him?) “Obviously he’s a player that we’re looking at and I think that he’s done well in the two games that he’s played. We’ll continue to look. I know there are talks that are in the process, but what the results of that will be, I’m not sure.”

(How have Eriq Zavaleta and some of the other draft picks been doing?) “We know Eriq’s going to be on our team. He’s a Generation adidas guy, and he got a little bit of a tweak in training, and so we’ve sort of been a little cautious with him. It’s also from a standpoint that we want to look at some other players in certain positions, and we know he’s going to be with us. I think Dylan Remick has done well, also. He’s another guy that we definitely want to keep. Again, we’re looking at some people that we’re still making some decisions on, so sometimes the lineups we put out there aren’t necessarily a reflection of the current depth ranking within in the team. It’s more a situation of, ‘We need to look at these guys and make a decision here,’ because we’ve already made some decisions (elsewhere). You can’t look too much into it sometimes.”

(How long until Tiffert joins the team?) “Right now, our expectation is it’s not going to happen this week. Maybe something will be possible for next week. At this stage, I really couldn’t predict that.”

(What do you expect out of Eddie Johnson this year? Can he go 2,500 minutes and score 20 goals?) “I don’t like to make predictions for guys, because if they want to put themselves under pressure, I think that’s better than me trying to put them under pressure. I think for Eddie, obviously last year playing with Montero, Montero drew a lot of attention. And Eddie helped draw some attention away from Montero. It’s still (a matter of) who is going to be his partner up there? How is that going to work at the end of the day? Does Eddie have potential to score 20 goals? Yes, he does. Is it going to happen? I’m not quite sure. What’s most important is that we score goals to win, and if it’s a situation where Eddie ends up getting 20 assists instead of 20 goals, I probably wouldn’t argue with that. He needs to be involved in our goal-scoring opportunities, and that’s what he did yesterday. The free kick that led to the penalty kick was a foul that was committed on him, and then he scores the other goal. In both our goals, he had a hand in that. And that’s what I expect from Eddie every game, is that he allows us to be goal dangerous and puts us into situations where we can score goals. Whether he scores, whether he sets them up, whether he gets fouled in the box, whatever the case may be really doesn’t matter. So I don’t want to put that pressure on him.”

(How has Mauro Rosales been doing?) “I think Mauro has done well. We’ve been very happy with how he came in this season in terms of his fitness. He continues to work, so we’re very pleased with that. Obviously he hit the free kick that led to the penalty kick. I think he’s always involved in our dangerous attacking sequences that we have, and he and Zakuani and Eddie are players that we need to get the ball to. For good things to happen for our team, we need to get the ball to them.”

(How many starters do you have settled in your mind?) “I don’t know is my answer. We obviously have an idea with some of the guys. A lot depends on health and everything else. We’re probably sure of about eight or nine guys at this stage, that we feel pretty confident unless somehow there’s a drop off in performance or there’s a rapid ascension in performance from somebody else. But we probably know about eight or nine at this stage.”

(Which positions are the other two or three?) “Which positions? That’s for me to know and you to figure out. That’s your job as a writer to figure that out. Obviously up front — the position next to Eddie — and center back, those are probably two of the question marks at this stage.”

(Are you considering having four goalkeepers this year with Doug Herrick in camp?) “It’s probably unlikely that we sign a fourth goalkeeper. There’s always a chance. Last year we ended up having five goalkeepers, and if you would’ve asked me at any point in the season, ‘Are we going to have goalkeepers?’, I would’ve said, ‘No, that’s never going to happen.’ And it did happen, so you can never say never. Our expectation is not to right now, but we like Doug. He’s trained with us. He’s played for the under-23 team last year. He’s a local product. I think he’s really improving. He improved last year when he trained with us. He’s improving again, and whether he makes a run at it this year or makes a run at it next year for us, I think it’s definitely feasible and possible. We definitely like him, but right now we wouldn’t necessarily consider signing a fourth goalkeeper.”

(Might it make sense to play at a lower level and come back in the future?) “Yeah, it’s possible. Obviously last year he played in the PDL with our under-23s. He’s the national team goalkeeper for Guam, so he’s got to get prepared for Guam in those games. So part of his training with us is prepare him, so he doesn’t take as many goals as Guam might take. That’s another reason that he’s in training with us and stays fit and ready. He leaves I think the middle of next week to go to one of their qualifying tournaments. Then when he comes back from that, we’ll sit down with him and (work) out a plan, because we’d like to keep our eye on him in terms of what’s best for Doug to continue to grow and develop as a goalkeeper.”

(Do you think you might get goals in different ways without Montero in the offense?) “We’ll have to adjust a little bit because he’s been a big part of our offense. It changes us a little bit. Some might think it changes us positively from a standpoint of maybe get a little more speed up front. Maybe it’s a situation where we can be a little more direct at times, when that’s called for. But it also hurts a little bit because Fredy provided us with very good holdup play and allowed people to get forward and allowed us to attack as a group. And he was a player who could score some goals that not a lot of people could score. So it’s going to take Zakuani obviously coming back into form and scoring goals. I think we’re going to need to see more goals from our wide players this year than we saw last year, and get more goals from midfielders than we got last year.”

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