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June 17, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Sigi Schmid said the USA-Panama crowd reinforced belief he has the best job in MLS

schmid mug 2013The Sounders didn’t practice for a while after the USA-Panama World Cup qualifier here last week, so coach Sigi Schmid fielded some belated questions about the game following Monday’s practice. Here is a quick transcript:

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(Have you talked to USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann since the game?) “Yeah, we talked. We met at the hotel a little bit and actually we talked yesterday, as well. He thought it was great. He thought the crowd was super. And you heard the comments from some of the players — they thought it was the best atmosphere they’ve played in (front of) in the States. I know Andy Hertzog, the assistant coach, felt the same when I met with him, so I think it was a success. … The experience, I think, was positive. The field, I thought, played well. And hopefully it will lead to more World Cup qualifiers coming here as we move in the future.”

(How satisfying for you was it to see Seattle and the fans shown in that light?) “I think it’s tremendous. It just made me appreciate even more and fully understand that, as far as I’m concerned, I have the best job in America in the league, in terms of coaching here, because our fans and their support and how they supported the U.S. that night. And just to be able to sit back and see it, and not be on the field, because on the field you’re sort of distracted sometimes — you’re focusing on what’s going on in the game and you’re not focusing as much on the fans. But just sitting up top and watching the game and seeing everybody standing down below and seeing them into it and seeing the tifo before the game and just seeing their attentiveness to the game, I can say they’re a knowledgeable crowd that’s cheering at the right times, that’s oooing and ahhing at the right times. That’s something that doesn’t always happen. What were there: 100 Panamanians and 39,000-40,000 American fans there? Whereas when you look at some of the other past big crowds, it was 20,000 Hondurans and 25,000 Americans maybe. So having such a pro-U.S. crowd, I think, was fantastic.”

(What was the sense of pride in having two Sounders actually start the game?) “We’re happy about that, because part of our thing is about developing players. Obviously Brad came to us and it wasn’t like he was a super-young player, but he’s continued to grow and improve and put himself into the frame with the national team. Eddie Johnson’s national team career was on hiatus when he came here, and we were able to get him back in the national team pool and he’s had success. He’s scored important goals for them, as well — as has Brad at this stage — so it’s very satisfying I think for the club to realize that we’re not only doing well in the league in terms of our results and what we’re offering our fans, but that we’re also helping to continue to grow soccer in the States by helping the national team.”

(Eddie Johnson has 11 goals in qualifying. Does he get his deserved due on the international level?) “I think it’s one of those things because he started off on fire. A lot of those goals came when he was very young, so he started off on fire, then he went through a little bit of that hiatus period where he disappeared from the team, but now he’s back in. And I think the guys who carry a little more notoriety are the guys who have been there consistently year in and year out. But I think Eddie is certainly drawing attention to himself again. I think (11 goals in qualifying) is a tremendous stat. It’s something when you retire you’re going to be very, very proud of. Hopefully there are a few more goals in him in the rest of this qualifying campaign — there are five more games there — and hopefully there are some World Cup goals in there.”

(Johnson mentioned last week’s qualifier as getting some USMNT players to want to play in Seattle. Was the game useful in a recruiting sense, as well?) “Yeah, I think it was good. It’s always a good word-of-mouth experience. I think the national team players who have been playing overseas, who haven’t had the chance to play in Seattle, like a Clint Dempsey or a Michael Bradley, those guys were saying, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty awesome sight.’ And even some of the foreign players like a Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones being able to see that kind of atmosphere when they’re talking to people or we’re talking to people in their countries, they’re like saying, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty awesome place to play.’ … Everybody what L.A. is and New York and the glamour that are associated with those particular cities, but from a soccer side, those guys are saying, ‘Hey, this is a pretty good place to play. The crowd is great. The field is good. The atmosphere is fantastic. The support is super.’ I think that certainly doesn’t hurt us.”

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