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February 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

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

Local reporters chatted with Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid for about 15 minutes on a Friday morning conference call. Topics addressed with injuries, Christian Tiffert’s situation, potential interest in Carlos Ruiz (who’s now with D.C. United) and other preseason matters.

Here is a full transcript:

*     *     *

(Can you give us a quick injury update?) “Adam Johansson is probably still out for tonight and probably tomorrow, as well. He’s got a slight knee strain — nothing overly serious — but just trying to be precautious with it. Baba Sodade, we’re hoping he might be able to play on Saturday. Not quite sure there. Eddie Johnson should play tonight. We might not push him as long; we might only push him for like 60 minutes, but he should be able to play tonight. Shalrie Joseph won’t play tonight or probably tomorrow night. We’re still trying to sort out his calf strain that he has and just build up his fitness at this stage.”

(Was there any interest in Carlos Ruiz, who joined the league recently through the allocation process?) “Yeah, there possibly was. Again, (there are) those things for us, the issues with the cap and so forth, and that’s something we had to look at when you’re looking at a player like that. I wish Carlos all the best with D.C., except when they play Seattle.”

(How close do you feel you are to getting a starting lineup ironed out?) “I think we’re close. I think injuries are certainly going to play a role in it still — a little bit of aches of pains that way. Also we’re looking at the opening game of the season, not having Alonso, not having Burch available to us in that game, so that determines a little bit our lineup. And that’s maybe going to predicate our lineup against Tigres, as well. But in terms of having an idea where people are, we have an idea there. Tonight we want to see Eddie Johnson play together with Rosales up front. We’ve seen how Estrada played together with Rosales up front. We’ve seen Estrada together with Johnson. So we want to look at different combinations up there.”

(Is Mario Martinez forcing your hand in terms of getting him in there?) “No, I don’t think it’s forcing my hand in any way. I think he’s a quality player and I’ve always felt he’s a quality player. I think last year the situation was the team didn’t really know him. He was in for two or three days and then he was gone for four or five days. Then he was back again. Then he was gone. He really didn’t settle in terms of even his living situation in Seattle. I think he’s more settled, the guys know who he is, so that’s made things a lot easier. And he’s in good form right now. Obviously with the camp he went through with Honduras, he’s the guy who’s played the most 90-minute games already. I think he’s already got three under his belt. So his fitness is pretty good, his sharpness is pretty good and he’s a quality player. He plays for us in midfield. He’s different than Mauro and he’s different than Steve in a certain way. He’s more of a playmaker. He’s left footed. But he certainly is a guy who’s a good passer of the ball and helps our team play well.”

(How serious would you classify those injuries? Would they play if this was the regular season?) “Obviously Shalrie we’d be holding out at this stage, because we want to get his calf right. But Eddie Johnson could’ve probably played on Wednesday if that was a season game. Adam Johansson might be playing this weekend if it was a regular-season game. But everything else we’re pretty much treating it how it is.”

(Is Patrick Ianni a candidate to go on the injured list to start the season?) “It’s possible. We’re going to have to evaluate that because we’ve got to look at six games out. We really only have one game a week … so we’ve really got to evaluate when we’re back in Seattle. By Wednesday or so, we’ll make a decision. It doesn’t matter if we put him on the injured list now or we put him on the injured list on Friday. That’s really no difference in the amount of time he’s have to sit out the way the rules are. So we’re going to get a good evaluation to when he can start actually running again, and then we’ll make that determination.”

(Will Bates is in recovery mode. Is there to keep him around the team without signing him?) “Yeah, he’s on a tryout basis with us right now. He’s trying out for the team. He was drafted by us and we’re taking a look at him. Yesterday was actually the first day he was able to participate as a neutral player with the rest of the group. We’ll see how it feels today. Hopefully there are no setbacks. We’re hoping that sometime next week that he’ll get the all clear to be full-in in training, and then we’ll give him a couple weeks to evaluate him and make a decision.”

(Does Saturday’s preseason game mean any more than usual with a trophy on the line?) “I mean it’s always nice to win something and to win some silverware. We actually debated about that as a coaching staff. We were asking ourselves, ‘Do we maybe play our first team on Saturday to try and win this thing? Or do we stay with the team of playing our first team tonight against Veracruz?’ We decided to stay with our plan — that we’re not trying to win a battle here and lose the war. We want to make sure that we prepare properly for our season opener but that we also prepare properly for Tigres. So if we win the trophy Saturday night that’ll be great and that’ll be a tribute to our depth and our reserves guys, because they’re going to bear the brunt of the load in that game. But if we don’t, it’s not going to shatter us.”

(What update can you give us on Christian Tiffert’s situation?) “There are things that are being discussed in regards to Christian, and part of that is really a better question for (GM Adrian Hanauer) as to where that is. He’s not with us right now. He’s training on his own there. He seems to be doing all right with the things that were bothering him at times. But now it’s gone into maybe another phase that Adrian can address better than I.”

(Hanauer had mentioned earlier this week that the way preseason was going to go, with a few changes so close to the start of the season, that maybe the team would sacrifice some strength at the front end of the schedule. How do you prevent that from affecting the players in any way going into these games?) “I think what he said is accurate in terms of there’s probably been a few more loose ends in preseason than in the past preseasons, where there are more things in discussion and are being percolated and thought about as to what we’re going to do — like the Shalrie addition here that came along later down the line and to what is happening with Christian, etc. We’re still looking, as well, for a player. Do we have a center back yet? All those things. So there are a few more loose ends that way, but in regards to how that affects the players, I don’t think that affects them in any way because we’re working every day to be better. We’re working every day to be good team, a cohesive unit, and I think if you saw the group that stepped out there and played those last 30 minutes against New York — albeit it was their reserve team — it was some pretty good soccer on the field. The ball movement was pretty good. So the guys are still focused. I think we’re going to be better as we move along in the season than we’re going to be in that first two to three weeks, but that’s something that happens all the time. And maybe because of some of the loose ends, it’s going to be a little more … not really disjointed, but the guys are little more unfamiliar with each other. But I have faith and confidence in their abilities as soccer players to work with each other pretty quickly.”

(Are you going into the season thinking you’ll have Djimi Traore?) “Yeah, I think we’re close on that. Definitely. In fact me and our team administrator, Grant Clark, talked about that this morning. Hopefully there will be something early next week that we have. But I feel pretty positive about that one.”

(How would describe the team’s attitude going into Champions League?) “I think it’s very high on their list. Last night was the first night we really talked about, ‘Hey, we’re nine days away from opening day, and we’re basically 13 days from playing in the Champions League.’ We don’t want to dwell on that too soon. We don’t want to spend too much nervous energy thinking about that and preparing for that. But I know the team wants to do well. They remember what happened last year with Santos — how they don’t want a repeat of that. I think we’re going to play a good game down in Monterrey. I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat, which we’ve got to be down there, and get a good result. Then we’ll come back to Seattle and take what we need to advance ourselves. But we’ve been pretty good about trying to go further every time we’re in a competition, and we want to go further in this one.”

(If you had more preseason games, would you test more forward combinations?) “We’re getting enough looks at them. Sometimes you have more games, but some of the games we’ve had in past preseasons — two of them against college teams, etc. — we really haven’t played any college teams this preseason. We’ve only played MLS teams, so everything has been a legitimate test in that regard. Some of the combinations we’ve obviously seen within intersquad scrimmages, as well. When we play against ourselves we see some of those combinations. And also those guys have been here now, so we’ve seen those combinations in past seasons also.”

(Did you watch Obafemi Martins in Europa League action yesterday?) “I didn’t catch that because I was on a conference call with the league, so I didn’t see. I saw highlights afterwards of various games in the Europa League, but I didn’t catch that game because I was stuck on a conference call for most of it.”


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