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Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

November 7, 2013 at 11:22 PM

‘We didn’t want to play. We put our backs against wall; that doesn’t work at this level.’

Photo credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

Photo credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times (full gallery here)

Here are some team-provided quotes and stats from Sounders FC’s playoff elimination Thursday in Portland. I’ll update this post with some of the quotes I transcribe in the near future.

(UPDATE 10:25 a.m. — A full transcript of coach Sigi Schmid’s postgame interview has been added)

*     *     *

Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid

(What are your thoughts on the game and the series?) “I thought tonight we got outplayed in the first half. We didn’t play well in the first half. I thought they closed us down, put pressure on us. We didn’t play forward. I thought we lost the game in midfield. Second half, when we switched into a 3-5-2, I thought it was better. We started to get some things. We can’t give up that goal right in the beginning of the half. We got two back at that point, but overall I think they were a better team than us tonight.”

(What did you think of the handball call and how deflating was it?) “It was a deflating goal because we dodging a few bullets. It wasn’t that we were playing well at that point. They were putting the pressure on us, but it was a handball that was at the edge of the 18. It wasn’t going anywhere. It looked like the referee was not going to call it and then the linesman decided to call it for him. I thought it was a hard call. Was it a handball or not? It probably was a handball, but it seemed like a harsh goal.”

(What was the thought process behind starting Shalrie Joseph up front?) “Oba couldn’t go 90 minutes. We knew we couldn’t start Oba. Then it’s options. Neagle wasn’t an option today. So it’s like, what are the options that you have? What we wanted to do was get Shalrie in there and have him play a little more advanced and at least physically be able to battle with their center backs, but he ended up dropping in too far and taking spaces that Dempsey normally gets the ball in, and as a result we were disjointed in the first half.”

(Would you say you were hoping the manage the game until Martins got in?) “Yeah, we were hoping to get out of the first half at 0-0. The penalty sort of (hurt) that. The second one, just not running with the guy — that one coming right before halftime. The goal before halftime, the goal right after halftime were what killed us at the end of the day. But for the first 45 minutes, hats off to them. They were much better than us.”

(Was Mauro Rosales not an option to start?) “If we would have started Rosales, we would have had to switch into a different 4-4-2. We thought we’d been playing OK in the diamond in our last three games. Even though we lost the first game, we thought we had played fairly well and created enough stuff, so we wanted to stay consistent with that because we haven’t been able to play a consistent group on the field all season. So we tried to stay with a consistent group as much as possible, but at the end of the day, it didn’t pan out for us.”

(With all this talent, how disappointing is the end of the season?) “It’s disappointing. Adding people during the season, it’s sometimes tough. I think being able to play as a team is something that we have to become better at, in terms of that unselfish running for people at times. That’s something we have to become better at, as well. That’s something we’ll improve upon and be better next season, because that was one of the keys for us. With the changes in the lineup game in and game out, we were never able to build upon that and never were able to get the roles down of, ‘This is what your role is; this is what your role is.’ The roles for people were changing. The roles for people today in the game changed. I think Evans played three different positions during the game. All that makes it tough.”

(The expectations became so high when Clint Dempsey arrived. In retrospect, were those too high?) “He came in with no preseason, trying to find his rhythm and trying to catch his game, as well. Again, like I said, with all the different changes, having to change from game to game, made it difficult. But he’ll have a much better season next year, and he’ll be the player that we all know he is. He still had the most looks for us tonight, had the most shots.”

(You mention the team not being a team with all the changes. Do you think the attacking pieces all fit?) “There are a lot of elements to it. You’ve got to run off the ball for people. Sometimes running is not running for the ball yourself, it’s running to make space for your partner. So some of that, we have some great individual, and we try and get it to that, and there are some times where we have good sequences of knocking the ball, but at the end of the day, we’ve still got to get behind the defense. I think in the second half when we got behind the defense a little bit more, it was better. Portland, at times, their center backs will just clear the ball, and it will be behind your defense and then Ryan Johnson will hustle up there and try to put pressure on somebody. Nagbe will try to put pressure and so will Rodney Wallace, so it’s not like it’s like silky play, but they get the ball behind your defense. We need to turn the opponent’s defense more often than we do right now.”

(All three goals came down the left side. What was the problem over there?) “Obviously we missed Leo Gonzalez to a certain extent. Leo does a good job defensively. I thought he tied up Nagbe pretty good in the first game. Leo wasn’t able to play this game so Nagbe did a good job. Obviously they tried to find space, and I think between Moffat and Burch, they never really coordinated it to get him matched up in the first half. As a result, Valeri popped open because Alonso would go over there and help. Constantly one guy would get open.”

(Logistically, what comes up next as you transition into the offseason?) “We’ll meet with players at the end of the season, because the end of the season is now, talk to them and we’re going to make our plans for next year. Every year the group changes a bit, so they’ll be some changes in the group again. We’ve got to become a little more consistent than we were this year.”

(Your desire and expectation is to return?) “My desire is to return. I don’t want to walk away. I know there are probably people out there that would like me to walk away. The press, you guys like that. It’s a situation of I think there’s a good base of talent, there’s a good base of people that we can work with for next year, but there are improvements and there are changes we have to make. At the end of the day my job security is really in the hands of Adrian and Joe Roth.”

(Do you feel secure?) “I feel secure, but you have to ask them.”

(Are the right pieces here to win an MLS Cup right now?) “I think we have some pieces. I think we need to add some.”

Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans

On keys to the match and result:

“Key moments against good teams in the first half, and keeping the ball in good positions and one, two missed passes against a good counter-attacking team and they’re gonna put it down your throat. What I saw in the game was a couple missed passes and then they’re turned and then we’re turned and then we’re kind of chasing at that point. Against a good team, they’re gonna to make you pay and they did twice. And then the tactics kind of get thrown out the window and we’re chasing at that point.”

On the point in the game where it started to get away:

“Like I said, a couple key moments in the first half, and they punish us. Against a good team at home, it’s going to be difficult to claw back. In saying that, we pulled two goals back in the second half and maybe if we don’t concede that third one, I think that we probably get a third one and we make it really interesting. But, one goal shy again and that seems to be the lifeline over the past couple years, just one goal.”

Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson

On the difference in the game:

“No, it’s not fight. It’s just when you play with confidence, when everyone wants the ball, you can’t wait to play a team like Portland that’s very good at home. That’s one of the best teams in the league, and to put yourself down three goals and then you wake up and want to play … No, you got to play like that from minute one to minute 90 and we didn’t want to play. We put our backs against wall and that doesn’t work at this level.”

On the team’s offense and finding space:

“First of all, to run off space, we got to have guys get on the ball for our strikers to find space. If the game becomes very direct, we’re playing into their strengths and that’s what [the Timbers] want. They want the ball to myself, or to [Clint Dempsey], in the air. That suits them. But if we can get guys on the ball and have guys that are confident on the ball and play through the middle and then we can get slipped five- or 10-yard balls, then it’s easier for them to get their back four disjointed. We weren’t able to do that tonight and that’s why they were successful.”

On changes to the lineup:

“Whoever is out there, there’s enough experience up top to score goals – bottom line. We’ve got enough quality up top to score goals. In a big game like this, guys just got to step up and score goals.”

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter

On what the win means:

“I think it means that we’re three games away and we have two teams in our way. I think if you went in the locker room you’ll see a team that’s happy, but they won’t be truly happy unless we win it all. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We’re not going to think past this next round. Obviously, we have to get to the championship in order to raise a trophy, and we’ve got a difficult team ahead of us in Salt Lake. We’ll keep taking it one at a time, but we’re getting closer. This team genuinely believes that we have a realistic shot at this. It means a lot, but we’re not going to think about what it means until, hopefully, the end.”

On conceding two late goals:

“It’s probably a good thing because it keeps us grounded. It’s a reminder that if you let your guard down in this sport you’ll get punched in the nose. We were clearly in control of that game and it was going away, it could’ve been four [goals], it could’ve been five. Soccer games, I’ve seen it, they turn in a moment. Long throw-in out of nothing ends up turning the game 3-1 and then now you start over-thinking things and getting tentative, and we gave up the next goal. To our credit, we didn’t give a goal up from that point forward; some teams would’ve crumbled and unraveled. For me, it was probably a good thing because it’s a wakeup call and it keeps us grounded. We don’t leave this game feeling invincible, bulletproof at 3-0, we leave the game happy because we won, but we also leave the game more grounded. It’s a reminder that we have to stay focused.”

On the aggressive start:

“That was the plan all along. On the road, we were OK with them having the ball and hitting them on counters. Tonight, it was a different story. At home, we want to run the opponent over. I thought we did that for good periods of tonight. Our pressure was as good as I’ve seen out of this group all season. When we had it going I thought we were very relentless, really gave them a lot of trouble and turned them over. I thought our combination play at times, our ability to control the game with possession at times, our ruthlessness getting to goal was very good. We should’ve had more goals. The coach in me is going to look at the tape and say we should’ve scored five, six goals, but they also had a few [chances] as well. In the end we were the better team and deserved to move on in the series, but I thought it was some of the best stuff of the year from our team on both sides of the ball. I think there’s still more in this team, so that’s what’s scary.”

On preparing for a quick turnaround:

“You’ve got to be ahead of it. We were prepared. We weren’t looking past this game. I just told the guys the plan. We’ll get them turned around quickly tomorrow, we’ll train on Saturday and get on a charter Saturday after training, and we’ll get to Salt Lake then it’s just the normal rhythm. With the two-game series, we exerted some energy, but we were also able to conserve quite a bit in the tank. Salt Lake is in the same situation as us. Would you like to have a week off? Yeah. These are important games at the end of the year; of course we’d like to have a week off. It’s kind of a strange schedule, but it is what it is. Salt Lake is in the same situation as us.”

On if there’s extra meaning beating a rival:

“I think so. It means probably more to the supporters. That’s three games in a row that we’ve beaten Seattle, that’s difficult to do. I was a bit worried about that. It’s not easy to beat a team three times in a row. We were able to do that, and I think it’s a real credit to how hungry our team is right now. They are on a mission. The best thing I can do is stay out of the way, and I tried to do that tonight. I wanted to just release them and let them go. Getting to 3-0, there was some quality stuff that we put together as a team.”

On the rivalry against Seattle:

“I’m so locked in right now. Obviously, the rivalry is big and it means a lot to our supporters. I understand that there is a rivalry. I understand that our fans want to beat Seattle. I’ll always want to beat everybody. But I think when we can bring a little extra meaning and joy by beating a team that our supporters dislike so much, I think it’s extra special. In the end, they’re the team we drew, they were in our way. Salt Lake is now in our way. It doesn’t matter who it is, we’re not going to want to lose to them and we’re going to do everything we can to move on.”

On matching up against Real Salt Lake:

“I think we match up well. The nice thing is that we played Seattle and they play a diamond. So we’re really in a rhythm playing basically a similar system. I think that’s a real key in a quick turnaround. There’s not a ton of tactical changes that we’re going to have to make. A lot of the same things we will want to exploit against Salt Lake are things we wanted to exploit against Seattle. I think our guys will also have a lot of confidence knowing we just faced a really talented team in Seattle playing a diamond and now we go face another really talented team playing a diamond. The last time we played Salt Lake, I thought we played very well against them. It was a 0-0 draw, it wasn’t a win, but I don’t think they had a shot on goal. I think that was a real positive performance. Now we just need to get the attack cranked up versus them.”

On getting the most out of players:

“Just trust them. Let them go. Define their role, but let them express themselves. Let them be who they are. I think if you put your team together the right way, you have guys in positions where they are doing what they do well.”

On if he was surprised by the three goals:

“No, we’re capable of that. We’ve showed that this year. We had it clicking. We’ve got to keep it going. We’re in a great zone; that’s 10 games unbeaten. At home, we’re playing well. On the road, we’re playing well, too. We’ve just got to keep it going. This is what you hope to have happen with your team – you’re in a run of form at the end of the year and it just starts to grow and build and the confidence grows. These guys are in a great spot right now, so we’ve just got to keep going.”

Timbers midfielder Will Johnson

On putting early pressure on Seattle:

“It was important mentality-wise. It could be easy to get into that bunker-mode early, but we didn’t. It’s one thing to say it and another to do it. We’re happy we were able to execute. I thought some of the stuff we played and chances we created in the first half was excellent and we were rewarded with two good goals.”

On if there was any question after conceding two goals in the second half:

“No, I don’t think so. The two goals, it’s something that grounds us a little bit. If you walk out of there winning that game 3-0, maybe it can get away from you a little bit. We’re locked in, we’re in the zone, and we know that if we switch off even for a second, especially even on our home field, we can give up two goals just like that. Two goals against good team can often knock you out of a tournament.”

On knocking out Seattle:

“The Seattle thing is more for the fans, obviously we’ve bought into it as well. We want to beat them as much as anybody. We’re so focused on advancing and just getting to the next round, if we drew Seattle so what, if it was Colorado, so be it. It means a great deal to our fans I’m sure. We want to do right by them. We’re happy that they can trash talk their rival fan base. I think that’s pretty cool. For us, it’s just another team that was in our way. We had to take care of business and move on to the next round.”

On facing Real Salt Lake in the next round:

“For me, the record in the playoffs is even. We’ve never played them in the playoffs so I think it’s a totally different game. Whatever the regular-season statistics are, they are what they are, but this is the playoffs now so it’s a brand new slate.”

Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri

On scoring a goal and the result:

“I was happy for the goal, but I’m very happy for the team because we deserved that. We are working so hard for that and we are in a very good moment. We will work more to be champions.”

On Seattle’s physical game plan:

“Everybody wants to win and it’s a hard game. The two games were very hard. Today there were some tackles, but that’s normal and I don’t worry about that. I’m happy for the win.”

On the difference between the first and second leg against Seattle:

“The difference was that we had more of the ball, the possession, in the first half. I think the first half was the best first half of the year. We had a lot of chances, we scored two goals against Seattle in the playoffs and that’s tremendous. I think that was the difference. We were motivated about playing at home.”

Timbers defender Futty Danso

On the team’s mindset:

“We want to go in all the way. We want to win MLS Cup. We don’t want to celebrate just beating Seattle, it’s the semifinals. We’ll be happy, you cannot take that from the boys, but we don’t want to be too happy like it’s the end of the season.”

On eliminating Seattle:

“Whenever you win against your rival, regular season or playoffs, it’s always bigger. The scene around this, playoff semifinals and a win against Seattle that helps end their season feels pretty good.”

On being the aggressors in the match:

“We definitely came out to win. It was the same game plan when we went to Seattle. We want to win every game going forward.”

*     *     *

PORTLAND 3, SOUNDERS FC 2 (Timbers advance, 5-3 on aggregate)

Scoring Summary:

POR – Will Johnson (penalty) 29′
POR – Diego Valeri (Rodney Wallace) 44′
POR – Mamadou Dansou (Rodney Wallace, Will Johnson) 47′
SEA – DeAndre Yedlin 74′
SEA – Eddie Johnson (DeAndre Yedlin) 76′

Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Marc Burch, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso (Andy Rose 84), Clint Dempsey, Adam Moffat (Mauro Rosales 58), Shalrie Joseph (Obafemi Martins 49), Eddie Johnson.

Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, David Estrada.

TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Dempsey 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players, 1); FOULS: 21 (Burch, Yedlin 4); OFFSIDE: 1 (Moffat 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Burch, Rosales 2); SAVES: 3 (Gspurning 3).

Portland Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Jack Jewsbury, Mamadou Dansou, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan 61), Will Johnson, Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski 82), Ryan Johnson (Maximiliano Urruti 69), Rodney Wallace.

Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Jose Valencia, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Sal Zizzo.

TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Wallace 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Wallace 2); FOULS: 14 (Chara 3); OFFSIDE: 1 (Urruti 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (W. Johnson 1); SAVES: 1 (Ricketts 1).

Misconduct Summary:

POR – Pa Modou Kah (caution) 26′
SEA – Marc Burch (caution) 40′
SEA – Clint Dempsey (caution) 49′
POR – Diego Chara (caution) 53′

Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee’s Assistants: Paul Scott, Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Dave Gantar
Attendance: 20,674
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Rainy and 50 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

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