UPDATE: I’ve added a bunch more quotes from postgame access on the scene from BMO Field.
I’ve got a long drive back to Buffalo, N.Y., and an early flight, so I’ll have to update the blog a bit later. Until then, here are some team-provided quotes from Sounders FC’s 2-1 road win Saturday at Toronto FC:
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SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC head coach
(On if it was hold-on mode in the second half and what led to that…) “Yeah, a little bit. I didn’t think we took care of the ball as well as we should have in the second half. They obviously raised their effort, pressured us a little bit more. We had some guys who looked a little bit tired in the second half, gave some balls away that we normally don’t give away. We (had to) hang on, but we did hang onto it, which was important.”
(How do you think Clint Dempsey did in his debut?) “I thought Clint did well. He hasn’t played a game in two and a half weeks or so, so once you get your game rhythm back, it will make a big difference. His understanding with our players and our guys is something that will grow, as well. We ended up having to bringing him a little bit sooner than we expected, but I was happy with him.”
(Did you think he was 60-minutes fit?) “The timing when it happened, it was such that I didn’t want to bring somebody else on because then I would’ve had to make another sub. So I told Clint to just manage his way through those first 15 minutes. He didn’t really get a proper warm-up, so make sure you don’t pull anything. Then right away he ended up having to make a 70-yard run when he gets in almost with Eddie. But he managed his way through — he’s a veteran player — then he was fine for the second half.”
(How do you think he fit in with the group?) “I thought he did all right and I think it’s going to get better.”
(How is Martins?) “It’s just an ankle, so we’ll have to see how that is. Obviously he turned to hit the ball, the guy came in with a slide tackle — tackle the ball, tackle the man, I don’t know.”
(You’ve said before that if a goalkeeper is good enough to be on bench, he should be pretty much good to start. Is there now competition for the No. 1 spot?) “No, we just think Marcus has had two weeks of training and Michael’s really only had one week of training. And we felt Marcus did all right last week, so we wanted to come with him again and we wanted Michael to get another week of training.”
(And Hahnemann had a big save in the end?) “Yeah, that was a huge save — a huge save. Again, they didn’t show me any replays, so I can’t really tell if the guys was offsides or not offsides, but obviously Marcus came up with a huge save.”
(Did you have a view of the offsides call against Dempsey?) “Yeah, he was maybe a half of step off.”
(You have some dynamism up front with EJ playing wide right for a while and Rosales and Neagle pushing up at times. Was that planned?) “It was OK, but the movement was actually too much. We’ve still got to maintain our shape a little bit. We don’t want Mauro in there playing as a center forward. He scored a good goal, but we need to make sure that he’s also giving us that play wide right, and not that he’s in the middle and Eddie’s wide right for a majority of the time.”
(On being able to start the same lineup twice in a row…) “It was good. It was good to be able to do that, so hopefully we can do it a little more often.”
(On the buildup to the first goal…) “It was good. I thought the goal was well played. It was a good combination of passes, a series of passed to get forward. Evans hits a good pass and Eddie does a good job of heading the ball back across and Mauro finished it well. In the first half, I thought we played well, but obviously it changed in the second half.”
(Well Johnson and Evans be making the trip with the team back to Seattle?) “I don’t know.”
CLINT DEMPSEY, Sounders FC forward/midfielder
(Joined in progress…) “All in all, happy with my debut.”
(Did you know you weren’t going to start?) “I knew that I wasn’t going to start. I’m still working on my fitness. I’ve only played in two games, and in the two games I played one 45-minute and one 60-minute, so I’m still trying to get my fitness there. I’m not there yet, but I was happy with the touches that I got tonight and the work that I put in and the chances I created. Hopefully those start falling for me in the games to come.”
(How do you felt you fit in?) “It’s great. I’ve played with a lot of these guys. I’ve played with Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans. I’ve played with Shalrie Joseph; we have a long history. I’ve played with Marcus Hahnemann. It’s good to be back on the field with the guys that you’re familiar with and their style of play. Once we have everybody fit and healthy and have our strongest team out there, I think we’re going to be a tough team to contend with.”
(With all the attention, was it nice to finally get in a game?) “Yeah, for sure. There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of speculation, there’s been a lot of media, but for me, what I enjoy is being on the field and playing. That’s what I dreamed about as a kid: being a professional soccer player and being able to do that, so when you’re on the field, you’re at home. It was good to get out on the field, get some touches, mix it up with the boys and get familiar with this league again.”
(What’s it like to be back in MLS and how does the league seem?) “The league is good. It’s getting better. The quality and the competitiveness is getting better. You’re seeing more soccer-specific stadiums, you’re seeing bigger crowds come out to games, and you’re seeing MLS keep having more franchises pop up. It shows that there’s interest for it, it shows that there’s a demand for it, and it’s good to be back helping and continue the growth of the game here.”
(What’d you make of the reception?) “I think it was mixed emotions. I think there were some boos, there were some cheers, but that’s what goes along with it. I think as a fan that’s kind of what you should do. You want your team to win, so credit to them for getting behind their team and trying to push them on to win the game. I thought they played some good ball, but I thought we also played good at times. Once we get our full team fit and healthy, I think we’re going to be a difficult team to contend with. But I think it was a good crowd tonight. If that’s the type of crowd they get every week, then credit to them.”
(Just tell yourself they were saying ‘Deuce’ and not booing…) “Yeah exactly. I think that’s what they were saying. … (smiles)”
(Ever been called back to the sideline after you sub into a game?) “Naw, it’s ok. They were trying to get the numbers right. There was a malfunction with (the substitution board). I really didn’t understand them waiting to make that happen, but at the same time, rules are rules and it doesn’t bother me. Unfortunately the bigger thing is that Oba got hurt. We wish him a speedy recovery because he’s a great player and we want him back as soon as possible. But I think the team really has a lot of potential to be really great, so looking forward to everybody being fit and healthy and challenging for starting positions and seeing how far we can go as a team.”
(Was it tough coming in and having to make a 70-yard run right away?) “It was fine; it gets you into the game. I thought it was a good ball from Eddie. I tried to offset the defender a little bit, hit him with a stepover and the ball went a little farther than I’d like to, and he gets a chance to get a shot. I was actually leaning a little bit, so he was able to nudge me off the ball. I thought it was a good call by the ref not calling anything, but yeah, it’s a good way to get into the game. It’s an attacking chance on your first touch and almost a chance created. I thought I was a good way to get started. Ideally you’d like to get a shot off, you’d like to get a goal, but it was still good to get a touch and put a move on a player and try to get a shot on goal.”
(How did you feel about your touch?) “I was good. I felt today I had good touch. I was happy with my play and thought I was able to bring people into the game and help create chances for my teammates. I’d like to have done better with some of the chances I had. On two occasions I was trying to use a defender as a wall and try to bend it around him. Unfortunately I hit it into him instead of being able to whip it around him and into the corner. That’s something that’s going to come with time as I get sharper, but I’m happy with the way I performed. I think all in all it was a good debut.”
(How excited are you to make an impact in this league?) “I’m excited to be back in this league. The league gave chance to accomplish my dream of being professional soccer player I’m getting back with the guys that I grew up playing with. I’m excited about that and excited about the team I’m playing for. I’m looking forward to getting back and playing that home game Seattle vs. Portland in front of 68,000 fans. That’s going to be pretty cool. But yeah, I want to hit ground running, start chipping in with goals and assist, good play, and being able to create chances for teammates — whatever I can to help my team win.”
EDDIE JOHNSON, Sounders FC forward
(On all the pieces up front moving around…) “Sigi said for us, it’s about putting as much firepower as we can on the field. Sometimes guys are going to be called on to do roles they’re not used to doing, but we’re all good enough players to figure it out. I play out wide with the national team and I like playing out there, but for some reason Sigi likes me more central up top. But that first goal I was out wide right, and I’m good at making those late runs in off the shoulder of the outside backs. It was a good ball by Brad and I was just trying to get it back across the goal and Mauro scores a nice goal.”
(What was it like playing with Clint?) “It was good. We know each other really well. I know his strengths; he knows my strengths. It’ll just be a couple more games before we start to really click. For me, I know he’s a player who likes to get as many touches on the ball as he can, and when he came on that’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to get him touches. He looked sharp. For a guy in his first game of the season, just coming out of a preseason with Tottenham, he looked sharp. A couple more weeks and those shots will go into the goal.”
(That’s three-straight wins. How do you feel about how the team is doing?) “It’s good. We still have a lot of work. Credit to Toronto, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They came off two or three good results and they were feeling good about themselves. They really made it difficult. On a different night, maybe they leave this game with a point. But you know how this league, any team can beat any team on any given day. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce for you. Tonight it did for us. We’re delighted and we’ll take the three points on the road.”
(Seemed liked a tough call to get a yellow card that results in suspension…) “They say it was a dive, but I’m not going to go down if I’m not going to get hit. I’d like to see the replay. If I’m going to get a yellow card, I’d rather deserve to get a yellow card. I don’t think that’s a yellow card man. It’s difficult going into a game knowing you can’t concede a yellow card, knowing that you’re going to get suspended, and I felt like I played a fair game. It was my first offense and I got a yellow card. It’s a shame.”
MAURO ROSALES, Sounders FC midfielder
(On getting an early goal and what it did for the team…) “It was really good for us to control the game; it was very good to get an early goal. Also because the weather was hot in that moment. They are a young team and applied much pressure, so it was very tough to play against them and at that moment to get some space. After that, to score was one of the reasons why we could get the advantage of the game. We were very happy to get three points here away against a good team.”
(On getting a halftime lead…) “It is important part of the game whenever you move the ball and keep possession and you make the other team run is something that we want to do as much as possible every game. We are very happy that with Clint coming in it was the same. He is the type of player that can hold the ball and we did not know each other so well because he is just coming in, but he knows very well Eddie and some other guys. He is a smart player, he is an experienced player and he can come in and do what he does best. He will help us a lot.”
(On keeping the run going…) “This is the way that we wanted to be. It’s something that we have worked very hard to be here. Getting points at this part of the year is really, really important. We have a few games in hand and we need these points.”
(You might have had two goals if you celebrated that second one a bit more…) “I need bigger shoes, then I can get the second one.”
(So you didn’t get to it?) “No, I didn’t get it. I was too short, but lucky we got the second goal to control the game.”
Ryan Nelsen – Head Coach, Toronto FC
What are your thoughts on today’s game?
I thought they played an overall good game. They came out in the second half and they were determined, showed character and showed belief.
What did you say to the team at halftime?
I didn’t really say anything. I’m not going to take credit as there was no ‘magic’ halftime speech. I thought they played well in the first half it was just two silly errors. I was very disappointed on the first goal. The second goal as well was a bit unlucky and a bit unfortunate. The lead up to the second goal wasn’t good. Besides those two errors they played very well, I just think they didn’t get the last pass right and didn’t bounce their way. The second half was just a continuation was there was just a more cutting edge.
What did you make of the marking on the second goal?
It’s a tough decision where you have to either stay with the line or follow the run and Ashton got caught in between. All the strikers were in an offside position but with the ball going over to the back post that made them onside which made it look a lot worse than it really is. In saying that, the boys had three or four seconds to react to the cutback by Eddie Johnson. Normally they are very good with that as we are always working on that. We try not to concede very soft goals and that was a very soft goal.
Jeremy Brockie – Forward, Toronto FC
Final home game, you must have some great experiences to take home with you?
It would have been nice to finish that chance at the end and walk away with a point and a happy ending to leave BMO Field. I have enjoyed my time while I have been here, the fans have been great but it’s a shame I couldn’t have put a few more in the back of the net.
Did you know you were onside for that final chance?
Yeah, I did know I was onside. I haven’t seen a replay of it yet.
What do you remember most about your time here?
Great bunch of boys in the change room. I came over here to help Ryan out and the last few results were very positive. This club is heading in the right direction. I will take some good little pointers that Ryan has given me back to the A-League.
Has there been any talks regarding a possible return?
There was a little brief discussion but obviously if I go back and in two weeks’ time if the opportunity arises to come back to Toronto in the future, I will take a look at it from both ends. I still have two more games and they are two winnable games that I would like to take six points away from.
Jonathan Osorio – Midfielder, Toronto FC
How do you rate your performance so far in MLS?
I know I have the talent to play in this league and I know I am trying to improve my weaknesses that I have.
What are your thoughts on your supporting cast, especially the likes of recent additions of Bobby Convey and Matias Laba?
We have lots of weapons on our team and we are playing well together for 90 minutes but we were unlucky to give up those two goals. Matias beside me is great, he has been great beside me all season, and he is very consistent and makes my job a lot easier. Playing with those players is a lot of fun.
Where do you need to improve and how much have you grown in your MLS career?
I need more experience. I need to gain more experience with and without the ball. I have grown a lot as I have become a smarter player with the timing of my runs, my tackles and knowing when and where to be at the right time.
Doneil Henry – Defender, Toronto FC
What happened with the second goal?
There was a deflection, hit off my foot and went in the net. It is pretty simple and unlucky as there wasn’t much I could have done about that situation. Overall I thought we played a very good game. I just kept my head up and continued playing my game.
For the first goal was it a matter of you thinking he was offside?
Yeah, there was confusion as we thought he was offside at the back post but we were very unlucky for that goal.
How far away are you from reaching your potential?
I think I am playing because I am supposed to be playing and I am capable of playing. I think that even on other teams I could start at center back. As soon as the ball starts bouncing our way there won’t be a problem. I think if we can just do our jobs as a team and start winning some games, there will be no problem.