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April 15, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Monday notes: Reserves get 1-1 tie in L.A., first team works on finishing

Seattle Sounders FC LogoHere are a few quick notes from Sounders FC practice Monday…

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— It was a small group for training here locally with several players in Los Angeles for an MLS Reserve League game against the Galaxy (which ended in a 1-1 tie). Rookie Eriq Zavaleta, who has been described as a player waiting in line for his turn when it comes to a minor role with the first team, scored Seattle’s goal. Defender Patrick Ianni went 68 minutes in his first action since breaking his foot in preseason.

— Coach Sigi Schmid said after practice that he would get the full report from assistant Ezra Hendrickson later. Ianni and Philip Lund as a wide midfielder were a couple of the players of interest mentioned by Schmid. Looks like ex-Red Bull, ex-Union player Josue Martinez might’ve played for the Sounders, too.

— The first team worked on a lot of finishing here, and that was no coincidence. Said the coach, “We have to keep working on it obviously. … We just wanted to do some stuff close to goal, just work on some finishing, get some patterns in, things like that. We have to continue to work on it until the ice breaks.”

— Schmid also mentioned the team is working on finding forward passes: “Everybody possesses the ball with the intent to try and create openings. … What was the phrase I heard last night all the time on TV? ‘Possession with a purpose.’ Like that’s a new concept or something revolutionary. I think you always try to keep possession of the ball to create something. That’s the whole idea of it.”

— Forward David Estrada still isn’t cleared to head the ball, but he was active. Forward Obafemi Martins (knee) was a little limited. Defender Djimi Traore (knee/ankle) participated in warmups but was mainly held out for precautionary reasons. He could’ve done more, Schmid said. The availability of the forwards, including Eddie Johnson, who missed last game with a hamstring strain, is still uncertain.

— So how big exactly is the absence of Johnson/Martins? And is there a fear the team will think everything will be better once they get back? A long answer from Schmid after the jump:

“You can’t take it that way. You can’t say, ‘OK, well once these guys come back, then all our problems are solved.’ But on the same token, reality is that we haven’t had a full practice. We haven’t had a chance to work on any sort of these combinations or anything like that with the whole group. What is it now? We’ve played nine different lineups in nine different games, so we’ve had to mix the lineup all the time. We haven’t found any consistency, so from that standpoint, missing a forward certainly hurts. Missing a key player like Brad Evans at certain times just makes it harder for you to establish your rhythm and get into a flow.

“You don’t want to point to that as an excuse or so forth, but we’re at a stage that obviously we know we’ve got win, and that’s the pressure we put on ourselves. It’s not like when you look at our last few games… we’ve been terrible. I think we’ve played fairly well in that period of time. It’s just a matter of making sure we bang away the goals.

“We’ve got two games in hand on a lot of teams ahead of us. If we can win those games in hand, there are a whole bunch of teams tied at eight points. It’s just a matter of, like I said, us not panicking, of believing in what we can do, but also recognizing that there’s some urgency there, too. That we don’t want to keep waiting. That we want to get it done sooner rather than later, but believing in what we’re doing, because what we’re doing is the right thing. We’ve got to just finish, finish the product at the end of the day.”

— And is Schmid just as confident in the group he has, compared to maybe say six weeks ago? “You always question things when you’re not winning, and you’re saying, ‘Should we do this or should we do that?’ But I think the right group is still here in the vast majority,” Schmid said. “Obviously on the edges there’s some tinkering that can be done or could be done, so you see and you’re always paying attention and you’re looking and you’re trying to decide if something makes sense that would help your team. On the same token, I think there’s enough talent here to get the job done. I don’t think there are a lot of teams in this league that say, ‘Oh, I hope we get to play the sounders; they’re not very good.’ I don’t think anybody is out there saying that.”

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