Here are some notes from a rainy practice Thursday at Starfire…
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— In some personnel updates, Obafemi Martins wasn’t around (longer update here) and Philip Lund is still away (presumably still in regards to his visa).
— Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans went inside after warmups. Patrick Ianni worked to the side after warmups. The starters from Tuesday’s game all had a regeneration training session on their own while the rest of the group practiced regularly.
— Non-contracts guys Will Bates and Doug Herrick are still around.
— We had a chat with midfielder Mario Martinez that you can read here.
— And some CCL thoughts from coach Sigi Schmid: “Right now we’re in better shape than L.A. is in going down into Mexico, because a 1-0 win down there forces extra time. And if we can win by a goal and it’s more than 1-0, then obviously in away goals we’re ahead. So it’s like I said after the game: It’s a difficult task; it’s not an impossible task.”
— Schmid poured cold water on the idea the Sounders will go down guns blazing. It sounds like he is looking for a more disciplined approach, particularly to avoid Santos Laguna’s lethal counterattack: “We can’t go down there and say, ‘OK, our objective is we have to score, score, score, score.’ We can’t give anything up, because anything we give up just makes it that much harder at the other end. For us, we want to be in a situation where we don’t give anything up and we catch a goal, and we force them to start taking risks because they’re at home, and then hopefully we can catch another goal. The important thing is we play good defense and we play effectively on the offensive end of the field.”
— Here’s another scouting report from Schmid on Santos: “We could talk about player budget or whatever, but certainly the quality of their front three is very good. You like at (Darwin) Quintero; he is a Colombian national team player. (Oribe) Peralta when he’s healthy is an important player for the Mexican team. And Herculez (Gomez) has become an important player for the U.S. team. Herculez has certainly improved a ton since he’s been in Mexico. His running off the ball is much better than it was, because if don’t do it, you don’t play, and you make a lot more money there — so you want to do it because you’re going to make money. So their front three, I think, are very effective. And then they’ve got a bunch of other good, good players. (Jorge) Estrada is a good outside back. (Osmar) Mares is a good outside back. (Juan Pablo) Rodriguez has played for the national team; he’s a good passer, a good orchestrator. So they’ve got quality players and they’ve got experience. (Felipe) Baloy is the captain of the Panamanian national team and (Oswaldo) Sanchez is a three-time World Cup veteran in goal. So they’ve got a good mix of energy, youth and experience.”
— Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann got another vote of confidence from Schmid, but the coach stopped short of bringing up controversy at the position: “(Marcus) played well and he’s an experienced player and he’s a good goalkeeper … but we’ve been happy with Michael (Gspurning), and Michael’s done very well in the games and kept us in games at times. So Michael has done nothing to put that job into jeopardy, and I think Marcus has been around enough that he understands that. But it’s good to know that we have two quality goalkeepers.”
— Regarding all the recent personnel issues (most recently Martins’), Schmid said it’s “frustrating, but we have to work with the people that are here. I think some of the guys that have been pushed into maybe playing more minutes than anybody would’ve expected at the beginning have responded well. I think DeAndre (Yedlin) has done well. I thought (Alex) Caskey did well coming in the game. I think (Shalrie) Joseph helped us, as well. … I thought (Brad) Evans on the right side was effective also. I think some of the changes we were forced into, guys did well.”