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August 26, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Zach Scott: ‘The one thing I know for certain is that we beat Portland. Period.’

Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Here are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC’s 1-0 home win Sunday against the rival Portland Timbers in front of 67,385 at CenturyLink Field:

*     *     *

Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC coach

(Opening comments…) “Obviously we are happy with the three points tonight and getting the win. I thought it was a hard-fought game. I thought it was an exciting game, for sure for the fans. I thought it was a little more physical than it needed to be. That took a little a bit away from the quality of the game, but obviously we are pleased with being able to get a clean sheet in the back. We are pleased we finished the one goal to give us the three points, because that was the most important thing.”

(On Eddie Johnson’s knack for scoring this rivalry and big games…) “Every player gets up to play in front of crowds like this. It was a good free-kick from Mauro. Eddie rose well to get a little redirection on it to beat Ricketts with it. He’s one of the guys we look for on those set pieces because we know he jumps well, along with some of the other guys who are going in there. Obviously set pieces sometimes make the difference in a tight game and any player is happy score in front of a big crowd.”

(On if the win can provide a boost outside of just three points…) “It’s the three points. It’s winning against our rivals. Those things are important. We still have games in hand on people, so we continue to gain. But it’s also just the team, the confidence. It’s the first time we’ve really had Clint together with Eddie up front for us. The only guy we were missing tonight was Oba, so once we got everything out there… I thought Lamar had a good game, so that triangle with Lamar on the left worked. He played well on the left so we’re starting to see how it’s going to work and how they’re all going to fit together when they’re all on the field.”

(On how he feels Dempsey is doing…) “He’s still a little bit in preseason. I thought his energy was good until about 10-12 minutes to go in the game. I thought at that point he was pretty tired, but Eddie was a little bit tight, so that’s why we subbed Eddie at the end. He is still gaining his sharpness, still gaining his fitness, but he it’s definitely coming along. It was a hard game for him today. The stats say he got fouled four times, I thought he got fouled more often than four times, so it was a hard game to play that way.”

(On the record-breaking attendance…) “Phenomenal. Today I drove in about 2:15-2:30 and I already saw all green walking around and people heading in and out for liquid refreshments and things like that. It was fantastic. When you walked out there as the teams marched out for the national anthem, you just look and saw everything full. I still pinch myself every time I see that. It’s unbelievable.”

(On what that crowd says about the growth of the league…) “I think we’re moving forward. I think we’re getting there. I know talking to (Grant Clark) before the game, my team administrator, we said could we ever imagine this in 1980, when we were together at UCLA? You never really thought this was going to happen. You see our league moving forward, you see the continued support. There were some games I watched on TV, the Montreal game, the fans there were fantastic in that game. But nobody compares to our fans, and when they turn out in numbers like that it’s indescribable to me.”

(On if we saw some of the “stuff” Dempsey tries in games…) “Yeah, there were a couple things he did. I know there were a couple ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ from the crowd on a couple of moves that he made. Again, four our guys to know him, for him to know our guys, that’s still going to take a few games, but that’s going to get better and better. He’s has really quick feet. Sometimes I watch him in warmups or watch him in practice and he does stuff that not many people can do.”

(On what stuck out in the physicality of the night…) “Just thought there were some tackles from behind that were a little bit dangerous. The referee has to protect the players. He can call the fouls, and he called the fouls for sure I think on most of those tackles, but sometimes it takes more than calling the foul.”

(On deciding to change both center-backs…) “We just thought (Djimi Traore) has had little niggling things bothering him and we felt that it was starting to affect his play. We figured if we could rest him on a turf game, next week we play on grass again, it would be better to rest him on the turf game. He also felt Zach Scott in the air, because we know they like to play high balls into Ryan Johnson, that he would be able to match that. Kennedy we felt was our defender who had the most speed to deal with Ryan, as well, and that was the reason for him coming back into the team.”

(On if Scott’s history in the rivalry factored in to the decision…) “Zach, whether he’s on the bench or starting, he’s always very much an emotional leader for our team. Certainly his history with the Timbers and his flat-out commitment to every second of every game is something that sometimes helps our team, for sure.”

(On the performance of Gspurning…) “I thought it was good. The save he makes early is fantastic, when he stuffs Johnson on the breakaway. And there was maybe one he came flailing at a cross I think one time. But outside of that I thought he was pretty solid. He punched a couple balls clear. He held what he needed to hold. He didn’t bobble or give any rebounds. I think we were slow-reacting a couple of times because Ricketts spilled a few balls, spilled two or three balls, and we should have been maybe a little more aware and reacted a little bit better. But I thought Michael was pretty clean, with maybe one or two exceptions.”

(On if it was a bounceback game for Gspurning…) “I think there was only really the first goal in Houston where he had a share of the blame. The others, I mean the guy hits a bomb and we don’t step and close him down. Then the last goal was a weird one that just bounced and the guy hits it from inside the six. I think it was a confidence-boosting game for him, but I don’t think necessarily a bounce-back.”

(On if he saw the pregame tifo…) “Yeah, what were there, four horsemen? I forget what the slogan said underneath now. … Build a bonfire. We were trying to identify all the players. Neagle, Gspurning, Alonso and Evans? Did they give Evans a cheesy mustache or something?”

(On Rosales coming off the bench and replacing Joseph…) “Well, Shalrie tweaked his knee a little bit in the first half and played through it in the first half, and tried to see if he could come out and play through it in the second half. So about six, seven minutes in we felt he really couldn’t play through it. So we wanted to come with Mauro at that point and move Evans back inside, because that was our best option. Mauro always supplies something for us on set pieces and things like that. Games that are sometimes hard fought, the ball is in the air and there is a lot of challenges and a lot of tackles, and that is not always his strength as a player, but certainly he helped us with set pieces and should have had a goal, as well, when he come in on that one cross and came very close to a goal again. So he definitely was a plus for us coming off the bench. It’s great to have a player like him to bring off the bench.”

(On if Martins not being able to play was all about health…) “Yeah, his ankle still hasn’t recovered enough where he feels like he can really hit the ball with his left foot yet. So as a result we’ve got to continue to work on him. He did a fitness workout and he’ll work out tomorrow fitness-wise and so forth, and then we’ll see how he is come next weekend.”

Zach Scott, Sounders FC defender

(On having played so many games against Portland…) “I’m positive the majority of those are wins, and that’s something I told the guys before the game. This career is so fleeting, there is so much uncertainty day to day — whether you’re in the lineup, whether you have a job next year — but the one thing I know for certain is that we beat Portland. Period. We’re always going to be the team to beat. They can say there’s a changing of the guard, they can say we’re a group of stars and they’re the team, but in the end we’re the ones that are going to come out victorious.”

(Is there anything sweeter than beating Portland) “Soccer-wise? No. I can’t think of a lot more things. Portland is not high on my list of things that I love, but soccer-wise, yeah. Absolutely. It doesn’t matter how you’re season is going. You beat Portland, you win the Cascadia Cup for your fans, it’s tremendous.”

(On what he felt about starting…) “Nothing new. I prepare every week like I’m going to start. I tell my wife that: If I ever get to a point where I don’t feel like a starter, if I feel like a bit player, I’m going to hang up my boots. That’s not the type of guy I am. I’m going to prepare like a starter and when my opportunity comes, I’m going to be ready. It’s that much sweeter to work your way into the lineup against an opponent that you love playing against as much as I love playing against Portland.

(What did you make of the largest crowd in Seattle soccer history?) “That was pretty cool, definitely up there on my list of just amazing things I’ve gotten to see and do because of soccer. Walking out the first time, the inaugural game for the Sounders, was something pretty surreal and this… I feel like it tops it. I always feel like 40,000 is always so loud that you add another 20 on top of it and it’s no big deal, but today it felt like 66-, 67,000.”

(Ever think it would get there when you were playing in front of a couple thousand at Starfire?) “Well, not that I would get to see it. No, not at all. I was happy when we got 3,000 fans and I thought that was amazing down at Starfire. Even packing it into Qwest, so yeah, to get to play in front of that many fans was really, really cool.”

Michael Gspurning, Sounders FC goalkeeper

(On the game…) “Playing in front of 68,000, playing in a derby, a great game, we win — an awesome night. A game I will remember in 20 years.”

(On the crowd…) Absolutely. “We knew what we had to do for the fans. 68,000 came to see us win and we wanted to win so badly. We gave everything we had and fortunately we got a great 1-0 win.”

(On [Darlington] Nagbe’s shot in the second half…) “I saw the ball and I went for it. It wasn’t about me in that situation. There are so many guys who deserve credit because it was such a great team effort. Eddie made the goal, Mauro made a great cross, and all four defenders in the back were great. It was really a team effort today. It was absolutely fantastic.”

(On Zach Scott starting…) “I think Zach is born for these games. His physical play was a huge factor in the game.”

Mauro Rosales, Sounders FC midfielder

(On his thoughts on the match…) “It was good, we got the three points. We controlled many parts of the game. It was a great game, exciting game. Getting the three points in a rivalry, the confidence was great for us. 70,000 people to go along with it in the stadium, how good is that? Now everybody is going home happy.”

(On the magnitude of this match…) “We needed these three points against Portland because they were up. And also for the Cascadia Cup and we are playing for the fans here. We want to keep moving. This is enough here and we want to keep moving and prepare for a big game against Columbus and everybody has to be ready again.”

(On the record-breaking attendance…) “That doesn’t surprise me anymore. These fans they made everything today and they’ve made everything the last five years. They are going to be here forever, it’s something great for us. Being here at my age is a dream come true.”

Eddie Johnson, Sounders FC forward

(On his thoughts of the match…) “It was a difficult game. The beginning of the game they made it difficult for me. They did a good job of making me play with my back to the goal and capitalizing on too many touches. The game opened up in the second half and we got Mauro on the field, who is a good crosser of the ball, and we’ve had a good relationship since last year. It shows how important he is to the team. For me, I did what I get paid to do — score goals in the box.”

(On scoring the goal…) “The ball got out wide to Mauro and I just had to attack. I knew it was going to be a frustrating game, but for me I wanted to use my experience and when the opportunity came, rise to the occasion.”

(On the importance of winning the match…) “It was a huge three points. But most importantly it was a derby game and we know important it is to these fans and how important it is to this organization. We want to win the Cascadia Cup.”

Brad Evans, Sounders FC midfielder

(What did you make of the crowd?) “Incredible. We’re always asked questions about those games that you remember, and obviously this will be one of them. Probably the most emotional I’ve been before a game, for sure. Just the sheer numbers, and when you walk out, sometimes I walk out with my head down, but this one I said, ‘You need to lift your head and look around and soak it in,’ because you never though if this is going to happen again. From a personal standpoint obviously then seeing the tifo was, that kind of almost sent the (waterworks) open. That was the first time that’s happened. Just overall a very very special night.”

(Schmid was wondering if they put a mustache on you…) “I didn’t even notice. I love it though. That’s great. Can’t wait for November.”

(Do you feel you guys can take more from this game than just the three points?) “Absolutely. I’m hoping it came at the right time. Obviously coming off that loss in Houston and not doing what we wanted to do defensively, guys buckled down this week. We had an extra day to train and really get after, get it sorted out, and I thought the defense was lights out tonight, challenging every ball and sacrificing. But if we want to be a great team, we have to do that on the road. That’s the next step for us, really buckling down and picking up points on the road, because at the end of the day, that’s where we’ve seen our demise — away from home in big games.”

Caleb Porter, Portland Timbers coach

(On what the message to the team was after the game …) “Well, we played well. It was a very even game. For us to come in to this environment and basically go toe-to-toe with one of the most talented teams in the league and control large periods… We had chances. It was a very even game and it was a real credit to our guys, especially with the fact that we had several guys out. For us to come into this game and play as well as we did and perform as well as we did is commendable. For me, that’s going to be the case. We’re not, at this point, 25 games in, surprised, and that’s part of why we played as well as we did. This team takes the field believing that we can beat the Seattle Sounders with 70,000 fans and with three or four guys out. That’s the expectation and that expectation is there because we’ve shown that, we’ve proven that home and away. We’re going to continue to be in every single game we play, and not just hoping to win, but expecting to win. I thought the performance was good, the mentality was good. I thought especially in the first half, we controlled large periods. I thought at times we were the better team. But, in the end, we’re going to keep suffering if we don’t find goals and if we don’t continue to sort out set pieces. This game will continue to be cruel and we’ll continue to leave games feeling disappointed unless we find goals and unless we stop goals. With the way we play, with the way we built this team, with depth we have, with the mental toughness we have, with the fighting spirit we have in this locker room, we will go into every game, we will have the ball, we’ll be tough to break down defensively and we’ll be in positions to score goals. And yet, we won’t win unless we find goals and we won’t win unless we stop teams from executing set pieces. We made a jump as a team and we’re pleased with where we’re at, but at the same time, we’re not satisfied and we want to continue to get better because moral victories for me, for these guys, for our owner, they’re empty because we’re good enough. If we weren’t good enough, we’d be saying next year, we’d be saying we’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. We’re there. That was an even game. We’re right there. It’s not good enough — for me, the guys, anybody — for us to be saying at the end of games that we played well and lost because we are good enough to win these games. And we were good enough today. I thought we played well enough to win. But in the end, you don’t deserve to win unless you find the goal and you don’t deserve to win unless you stop guys from scoring on set pieces. And they know that and they realize that. These guys just have to step up individually and they will. We’ll go into the game against Salt Lake, and like every game, we’re going to have a ball, we’re going to control large periods, it’s going to be a tight game, an even game. And if we find the goal, we’ll win the game. If we don’t, then we’ll suffer again.”

(On how he thought the midfield performed …) “I thought they looked good. Very few teams probably come in here, especially with 70,000 fans and guys out and control large periods of the game, and I thought we did that, especially in the first half. When they found the goal, then it becomes a different game. Now we’re chasing, now we’re gambling, now we’re getting stretched. You don’t want to be in that position with this team because they’re very athletic and talented. With time and space they can hurt you. So I thought once they scored the first goal, to some extent, they had more time and space to operate, which is to be expected, because we’re now pushing through to try and level it. But up to that point, we really looked to be the team that was in control, the team that was pushing the game, the team that was going to be in a position to win the game. Next thing you know, there’s a set piece and the whole game changes. This is a game of moments. You lose a moment, you lose a game. You get punished. It’s cruel. I thought we had good performances across the board really from everybody. But if you’re an attacker and you don’t score a goal, to some extent, how good of a performance was it? Ultimately you’re paid to score goals. These guys played well, but they know that have to find goals somehow. And that’s the next step in this club’s evolution. The guys marking, box defending, they know that they have to stop goals — that’s what they’re paid to do. It’s a 1-v-1 battle, and in the end, we didn’t do that job and they’ve got to step up, and they know that.”

(On if he sensed a change in the way things were going just before the goal …) “No, not really. Not at all. It was a counterattack on a foul, a set piece. It was a play that happened a lot. We had a ton of those — we had corner kicks, we had free kicks, probably more than they did actually. I don’t need to see the numbers to know that was a very even game and for us to be able to do that at this stage of this club’s evolution is a real credit to how far we’ve come. But none of us are satisfied because we are capable of winning these games. We’ve got to take it up another notch.”

(On how frustrating it is to not finish and struggle defending set pieces …) “I mean that’s just soccer. We play the way we play so we’re in a position to win, to score a goal. I’m not angry. It’s just a reality. To see the way we play, we’re right there. We were toe-to-toe with that team, but the difference was they found the goal. You’re looking at chances created, you’re looking at possession, you’re looking at the way the flow of the game went — it’s an even game. In the end, we’ve got to find the plays and make the plays.”

(On how the game started…) “I think we actually had more of the ball than they did in the first half. The plan was to have the ball and the plan was when they had the ball, to launch counterattacks. When you play knowing both teams are pretty even, you have to prepare for when you don’t have the ball. We prepared for when they got us deep, to launch counterattacks. We also prepared to have the ball and make them defend us, and I thought we did a good job of that. We ran them around. There were times when they ran us around — it was an even game. That’s all you can ask for. When you put your game plan and your lineup together, and prepare your team to go into a game of this magnitude against a team of this caliber, you can only hope to be in a situation where you’re in the game and it’s 0-0 at halftime and to start the second half, and we’re not hanging on. We’re controlling periods and they’re controlling periods as well. But in the end, you’re in a position to win. And you only win if you stop set pieces.”

Michael Harrington, Portland Timbers defender

(On the team’s weakness in the game…) “We’re getting beat on a set piece. That seems to be kind of a recurring theme over the last month or so where we’re dropping points because we’re not making plays in moments like that. So, a good performance, it’s just that you got to make plays in the boxes on both sides of the field.”

(On whether the team is feeling frustration in not winning games…) “Yeah, of course. It’s always frustrating when you feel like you outplay a team and then you don’t get opponents and we feel like we should be winning these games instead of tying them or losing them like we did tonight. So yeah, it becomes frustrating, but we’ll stick with it. We’ll continue to play the way that we’ve been playing. We just need to be a little bit more ruthless on both sides of the ball in the boxes.”

Ryan Johnson, Portland Timbers forward

(On his performance and the performance of his team overall…) “The keeper came out pretty fast on my one chance I had. And then the header back post, when I got my head on it, I swore it was in, but somebody got a piece on it, deflected it out. It’s just one of those games that the chances just didn’t go in. We’re going to keep fighting. We got more games for the season. We’ll be fine. We’ll be in the playoffs at the end of the day.”

(On how he felt the Timbers handled the game…) “We’re right there. We know we’re a good team. Everybody knows that we’re a good team. We’re just showing it, and we can handle the pressure. They finished their chance tonight and we didn’t; that was just the difference. Next time, I think we’ll be on top.”

Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers forward

(On what happened that Portland couldn’t pull out the win…) “We played well the first half. I had a couple of chances, I had a breakaway and I hit the post. We just weren’t fortunate to be up a goal at halftime. I thought we played well and were just unlucky in a set piece.”

(On how Eddie Johnson managed to score the goal…) “I’m not too sure. I wasn’t marking Eddie Johnson, but it was a good ball in the box and Eddie got a head to it and flicked it in.”

(On whether Portland controlled the game…) “Overall I felt like we had good possession during the whole game, and had some chances in the first half. The first half was big for us. If we just would have got a goal in the first half, I feel like we would have come out in the second half and got more control of the ball and controlled the game, but when they got that first goal, it changed the game a little bit.”

*     *     *

SOUNDERS FC 1, PORTLAND TIMBERS 0

Scoring Summary:

SEA – Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 60′

Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph (Mauro Rosales 56), Lamar Neagle (Djimi Traore 90+1), Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson (Servando Carrasco 90+5).

Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Eriq Zavaleta.

TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Johnson 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Johnson 3); FOULS: 10 (Alonso 5); OFFSIDE: 1 (Johnson 1); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Rosales 6); SAVES: 4 (Gspurning 4).

Portland Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Alvas Powell (Sal Zizzo 82), Pa Modou Kah, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington, Jack Jewsbury (Ben Zemanski 86), Kalif Alhassan, Diego Valeri, Rodney Wallace, Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia 61).

Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Rauwshan McKenzie, Ryan Miller, Steven Evans.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Alhassan, Johnson 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 players, 1); FOULS: 16 (3 players, 3); OFFSIDE: 2 (Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Valeri 8); SAVES: 2 (Ricketts 2).

Misconduct Summary:

POR – Pa Modou Kah (caution) 59′

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson, Adam Garner
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 67,385
Time of Game: 1:55
Weather: Cloudy and 72 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

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