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March 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Zakuani: ‘We know we were close … and that’s what hurts so much.’ (quotes and stats)

Photo credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

Photo credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times (full gallery here)

Here are some team-provided quotes and stats from Saturday’s 1-1 tie against Portland, which saw the debut of Sounders FC’s new DP Obafemi Martins but also a equalizing goal for the Timbers in stoppage time:

*     *     *

Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Head Coach

(On the game…) “Obviously we’re disappointed with the result, giving up a late goal. I thought the first 20-25 minutes were good. I thought we stretched them and I thought we created some chances, got our goal, as well. After that, I think we let them into the game a little bit. I think our play was a little bit too slow. Our movement to the ball was too slow. It seemed like they were obviously pressing and were more ambitious in terms of winning 50-50 balls than we were, and that certainly turned the tide of the game. In the second half, we really didn’t turn that around as much as we should have; maybe Tuesday was still in our legs a little bit. As a whole, we could have walked away tonight winning one-nothing, even though it wasn’t a good performance. The good news is the group is here now, the team is here, so it gives us a chance to start working together and getting our cohesion down. We’re still throwing out different people at different times, so it makes it hard to get that cohesion.”

(On Portland’s equalizing goal…) “Wallace was a wide player who made a run inside so he goes unmarked a little bit. He’s coming from DeAndre [Yedlin’s] side. When you’re in the box there you’ve maybe got to follow because it’s a dangerous time to pass players on because other people maybe have marks and already have responsibilities. We didn’t get pressure on [Andrew Jean-Baptiste], who played the ball in, and then Wallace runs through naked.”

(On allowing Portland to equalize…) “We have to manage the game through to the end of the game. A lot of times we brought pressure on ourselves in the last 15 minutes of the game by instead of going forward with the ball, we’d come backward with the ball when we could have put more pressure on them. They were tight defensively, which we knew they would be, and we knew there would be space behind, but we kept trying to play the feet and a couple of times it looked like we were getting behind. We were almost there, but there was a lot of physical play there, as well.”

(On Obafemi Martins’ debut…) “It’s difficult for him having just flown in and so forth. We wanted to give him the opportunity, he wanted the opportunity, as well, because his mind, his spirit, his soul is here and he wants us to succeed and be successful. We didn’t want him to play too many minutes. He laid a great ball across that Eddie was almost on the end of. He hasn’t trained with the team, he doesn’t know the team, per se. He’ll get better, and the things that he can do–his quickness and things like that–will show through.”

(On the strategy in the early part of the game…) “We wanted to force them out on their right side, which would force them into Steve [Zakuani], as well. That’s why the ball was a little more there, and I thought the first 20 minutes we did a good job of that and we forced the ball over to that side. Then Steve had opportunities to run at [Ben] Zemanski and we also created some turnovers by the ball coming out there. After that, we lost the plot a little bit.”

(On the frustration of losing guys to national team commitments…) “It’s frustrating. It just delays it another week because we can’t train together. We need some time right now to train together; hopefully once we get all them back we can implement that. But we still have the rest of the guys here, so we can get that nucleus to play and the cohesion within that group a little bit better right now.”

(On what was the difference in the second half…) “I think our wide midfielders were too wide in the second half, and as a result of that it gave Portland the room inside and outnumbered our two central midfielders. We knew that was the case, but we knew we could shut that down, and we did at the beginning of the game. Like I said, we forgot to go back to that and then they started connecting passes. As I said, the 50-50 balls went their way because they were a little better in terms of trying to win those balls back. Our team had a tough game on Tuesday, an emotional game. We came back, I thought we started well. We haven’t started games well this season, so I thought this was our best start to a game and we got the lead. Normally we make that stand up. Now there’s something that went right and you have built on what went right and eliminate what went wrong.”

(On the potential MLS schedule change to make room for the CCL Semifinals…) “I think there’s something being worked on but I don’t know if it’s going to happen, so I can’t really answer that right now.”

(On allowing the late goal in a derby match…) “It doesn’t matter who it is, it’s ‘They had a late goal.’ We don’t need them to have late goals and we’ve got to finish out games better.”

(On the play of Osvaldo Alonso…) “Ozzie I thought defensively was very good and recovered a lot of balls and did some good things for us, but offensively I think his game has got to get a little bit sharper for us, as well. I think sometimes there’s some extra touches, but I’ll never fault Ozzie for his effort and for his ability to win the ball back. If he does lose the ball, he’s the first guy in there fighting and battling to try and get it back. Part of our game starts there in the middle of midfield, and today the movement of the ball in the middle of midfield wasn’t quick enough.”

Eddie Johnson – Sounders FC Forward

(On 13th minute goal…) “I don’t even remember how the play developed. Steve got it out wide and we were countering. Steve got it and was 1v1 on the guy, so I know 9 times out of 10 that he is going to beat the guy off the ball, and I was 1vs1 with my guy, just trying to take him in and out. I faked like I was going in and Steve put it to the back post and I was wide open. It was one of those goals where we have the relationship and understand how each other play. I know when he gets the ball I have to find the seams inside the box and get free.”

(On playing with Martins…) “It was the loudest it’s ever been at the Clink when he came out. The fans know the importance he has on this team and I thought he had a good debut. He was inches off from getting an assist with me today and he showed up in the 20 minutes what he can do and bring to the team. We’re excited he is here.”

(On being unbeaten since last season in front of 40,000+ crowds…) “I think that energy of playing in front of 40,000 plus, if that doesn’t get you pumped up and looking forward to the game then you shouldn’t be on the field. I’ve had a taste of playing in Europe and our fans compete with the best of them. It’s a great statistic and hopefully we can keep it that way.”

Osvaldo Alonso – Sounders FC Midfielder

(On if it was difficult coming off of Tuesday’s game with the high emotions…) “Every game is different. Today was Seattle against Portland, we don’t look back, and we have to look forward and learn from this, and get ready for our next game.”

(On what was it like playing with new teammate Obafemi Martins…) “It was good to have him out there.  Now he has to get on a plane and go back, but I think he’s going to help us this year.”

(On if it means anything that he has started more MLS games than any Sounders’ player in history…) “No. I just take it game by game. I try to play every game if I’m healthy, and do anything I can to help the team to win it. I don’t count the games; my main thing is to be healthy and to win.”

Steve Zakuani – Sounders FC Midfielder

(On how what’s the feeling like after a game like this…) “We just have to close games out. It would’ve been a much better feeling waking up tomorrow with three points. Especially when you fight that hard, and run that much, and coming off of the game on Tuesday with a lot of miles on our legs so you want to close it out. But it’s football. It happens. It’s a long season and you have a lot of ups and downs, and we have to go over everything that happened tonight and see what went wrong, but we know we were close to getting to three points and that’s what hurts so much because we were so close to it. We live to play another day, and we do take some positives from the game and we build from there.”

(On how difficult is it to pull it together with guys leaving for World Cup qualifiers and the roster not going to be full…) “We know we’re going to miss some players for some important games, but we kind of know that going into the season. When you play for a club like this a lot of guys are international players so we know what’s coming. That is why management builds a strong team, to cover those kinds of absences. So the guys that stay back have to step and play this next weekend, and the weekend after because it takes an entire squad to get it done for the season. Some guys have to step, it’s a part of our job, and a part of our team.”

(On how big of a deal was it to see what Obafemi Martins had to do to get here…) “He wants to play. I had a little chat with him before the game and he said he just wanted to play. He said he had seen this team play last season and was impressed with what he saw and he wanted to experience it. Playing against Portland was a good game for him to come and see, it doesn’t get much bigger than the game today. Of course we appreciate his commitment, and now he has to fly back all the way halfway across the world again, but I think it was good for him to be here. He definitely enjoyed it and saw what it’s about, and now he knows what to expect when he comes back for good.”

Michael Gspurning – Sounders FC Goalkeeper

(On defensive performance…)  “I think the defense did really good. With our guys in the back I think we are ready to get settled for the season. We will find our way.”

(On allowing a late goal…) “The goal was just solid, there was nothing else I could do. It was unlucky that it was in the last minute…To be honest with all of our rivalry, Portland is a way better team than last year. We take the point and look forward to the next games with two very tough games ahead of us. (There is) no time for thinking about the mistakes too much.”

(On where the team currently stands…) “We are early in the season, so we have to find our rhythm. We have to find our wins even if it’s in the away games. It’s always better to start with many points and run after the other teams.”

Caleb Porter – Portland Timbers Head Coach

(On coming away with a draw…) “Not only did we get a point, but they lost two points. It gives us a lot of belief moving forward. This team has a lot of mettle. I’m most proud of our effort defensively. We dug deep. We gave up a goal and obviously it was a counter again and we got punished for it. But overall, for 90 minutes, we defended very well against that team. That’s a very dynamic team.”

(On Rodney Wallace’s goal…) “He came off the bench for us and made a goal so I’m real happy with him, but it was a team effort. Everybody, at the end of the game, I thought really went to another level. It wasn’t pretty, but they dug deep, they battled, they fought, never gave up, never quit. In the end, to score that goal, it was fair because they were rewarded for their effort.”

(On what he told the team at halftime…) “I was very composed and even-keeled with them because I really believed we’d come back. There was evidence of that in the first half with the way we were playing. I thought it was a very even half to be honest with you. In terms of flow and rhythm, we probably had the better of it. That’s one of the nice things about the way we play, if we go down a goal, nothing changes, we’re still going to have the ball, we’re still going to push the game. You’re going to see an even better level once we’re up goals. But I never underestimate this team, I really don’t.”

(On if he got the sense that the team was going to come back…) “Very much. Part of that is that we’ve been down in games and we have a lot of belief. We’ve come back in games. Even in the Montreal match, we were pushing the game and had chances to tie the game. This team, they have that ability to come back so I think we were all very composed. We knew we had at least 45 minutes to score a goal and at least get a point out of it.”

(On including Jack Jewsbury and Ben Zemanski in the starting lineup…) “We wanted a couple more guys on the field that bring a little bit of fight and bite and grit. Those two guys certainly bring that. I thought they both had good games.”

Rodney Wallace – Portland Timbers Defender

(On coming off the bench to score the tying goal…) “Obviously we were 1-0 down and my whole thing was just coming in to the game and trying to make a difference, trying to make a play. We were attacking at the moment. We had a few chances prior to the goal. When I saw the first deflection, I saw that [Andrew Baptiste] had an opportunity to cross the ball, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t in an offside position, so I got in the right spot, the ball came, and I finished.”

(On what coming back to tie means to the team…) “It’s a huge win for everybody involved with the Portland Timbers. Coming into this game, we obviously wanted to get a win, a first win here versus Seattle. A point, coming back, it means a lot, and shows again the character that this team has.”

(On how the tie shows the team’s character…) “It just shows that everybody’s tuned in. Everybody is ready to compete, from the starting 11 to the guys that come in, the coaching staff, the training staff, everybody is on the same page. This year we want to be successful and points like this is what gets us there.”

(On whether he realized how open he was…) “I was in a good position. That’s why I wanted to make sure I was onside. I was pretty open and I wanted to make that sure it went in. It was a good ball by [Andrew] Baptiste.”

(On why he’s the leading Portland scorer against Seattle…) “I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to get the goal. It’s a good result for the team.”

Will Johnson – Portland Timbers Midfield

(On getting the draw…) “It’s a step in the right direction. We’re fighting ourselves. We’re fighting a lot of adversity. We could easily be 0-3 right now. This group could be sitting on zero points, getting ready to blow this thing up. We never panicked, we never wavered. We understand that we made mistakes, still, and there’s a lot of improvement that we can still make. When you get a point out of a game like this, it’s very, very promising and positive and takes us in the right direction, so we’re excited.”

(On how the team felt about the game and getting the draw…) “We thought we were playing well. That’s the frustrating thing. We think we’ve been playing well throughout the three games; others may disagree, but the feeling inside this locker room is that we have guys who know how to win. … We feel like we’ve been playing well. We just had to keep going, stay positive, understand that we made another mistake, but put it behind us and salvage a point out of the game, and we managed to do that.”

(On if he expected the game to be a bit “chippier”…) “A little bit. Kevin [Stott], the referee, did a pretty good job of keeping things under control. It had its moments, but it’s early in the year and these kind of things take a little bit of time. When the playoff’s on the line in September or October, I think it could be ever chippier. But it was still a hard-fought game and they’re a good team, so give them credit.”

(On whether it’s “too early” for a rivalry game…) “Yeah, maybe. That might be a good way to put it. I don’t think it’s ever too early, but I think the closer you get to October, the more the games mean in one way or another. Obviously you have to pick up points along the way, but there’s definitely an intensity-level that changes once July and August kind of pass.”

*     *     *

SOUNDERS FC 1, PORTLAND TIMBERS 1

Scoring summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (Steve Zakuani) 13′
POR – Rodney Wallace (Andrew Jean-Baptiste) 90+1′

Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez (Obafemi Martins 70), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Alex Caskey 81), Sammy Ochoa (Mauro Rosales 61), Eddie Johnson.

Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Servando Carrasco.

TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Johnson 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Johnson 2); FOULS: 19 (Alonso 5); OFFSIDE: 3 (Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Martinez, Rosales 2); SAVES: 1 (Gspurning 1).

Portland Timbers  – Donovan Ricketts, Ben Zemanski, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Mikael Silvestre, Michael Harrington, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury (Frederic Piquionne 70), Darlington Nagbe (Rodney Wallace 80), Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia 90+3).

Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Dylan Tucker-Gagnes, Ryan Miller, Kalif Alhassan.

TOTAL SHOTS: 19 (Valeri 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Valeri, Wallace 1); FOULS: 18 (R. Johnson 4); OFFSIDE: 3 (R. Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Valeri 7); SAVES: 2 (Ricketts 2).

NOTE: The official box score listed Portland with 13 shots.

Misconduct summary:

POR – Andrew Jean-Baptiste (caution) 16′
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 43′
POR – Will Johnson (caution) 50′
SEA – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 73′
SEA – Eddie Johnson (caution) 83′

Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson, Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Drew Fischer
Attendance: 40,150
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly cloudy and 50 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

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