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April 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Sigi Schmid on MLS expansion, Brad Evans’ return, Yankee Stadium and more

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid has returned to Seattle after spending a couple extra days in California after the weekend’s game. He spoke to reporters after Wednesday’s practice on a variety of topics, and a full transcript is available below:

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(On why he spent an extra few days in California…) “The U.S. under-21s were down there training, so it gave me a chance to watch that team train. Sean Okoli is there and Jordan Morris is there, as well. I knew our training session was going to be light – just a regeneration training. I also got a chance to get together with Tab Ramos and Andy Herzog in the evening, so it was good.”

(On why Yedlin wasn’t part of the U-21 camp…) “Ultimately, those decisions are Jurgen’s and so forth. He and I had spoken, and I said, ‘Look, it depends what your plans are with him. Depending on what your plans are, I’d like to have him here some of the time.’ … But I don’t know if DeAndre is in the group in May or not. Obviously Jurgen decided not to bring him in right now for this group. It’s a minicamp, so they only had one training session on the Monday. They had two on Tuesday, and then they’ll have a game tonight. So it’s small, but it’s the earliest the Federation in a long time has actually gotten that Olympic core together, which I think is important because normally what U.S. Soccer has sometimes done is they’ve waited until two weeks or three weeks before Olympic qualifying to get that group together. So by having more of these little minicamps, they can hopefully come to some decisions and narrow their pool of players down earlier than they do normally.”

(On if Yedlin would be in the mix for the Olympic team…) “The Olympics are in 2016, and the qualifying tournament often times takes part in the winter or spring of 2016. So it’s pretty early right now to get that group together. Who’s going to be in that final group, you don’t know. There are a lot of guys right now who are probably playing college soccer and in the next year and a half are going to turn pro, or something else happens, and they get into contention.”

(On Yedlin’s second season so far and if there is a such thing as a sophomore slump…) “Well, the opponent knows you and the opponent knows what you’re going to do. It’s sort of like the same as other sports, where they’ve now sort of seen your trick or what you’re doing. Now what it really becomes is about consistency. For him, I think he’s been reasonably consistent. Everybody is looking at, ‘Well, has he played as well as last year or not as well?’ I think he’s being looked at with a little more of a critical eye than he was being looked at last year. He’s not being looked at as DeAndre Yedlin, academy player getting time with the first team. He’s now being looked at as DeAndre Yedlin, possible World Cup player. So the eye becomes a little more critical, a little more demanding. But I think we continue to talk to him. We continue to work with him. We continue to watch video with him. Ezra was working with him today at the end of training, and he’ll continue to grow and improve. His appetite for the game is good and his desire to want to get better is good.”

(On how Brad Evans’ addition will work…) “We’ll see. We have a good squad and we have some depth and we have options, but we also know we’ll lose Dempsey for a period of time and possibly lose Evans for a period of time, and maybe DeAndre. We have to have those options for us. It’s a little bit in what we see in training and how guys perform and how the mix is going to be for this weekend. We’ll figure that out as we get a little closer to the weekend.”

(On if Evans’ flexibility affects things…) “Obviously Pineda has played a lot in the middle of midfield and Brad gives us that option in the middle of midfield. Him and Ozzie have played a lot of games together. He gives us somebody who’s stronger in the air — his heading. He’s somebody who has that ability to see and make those late runs into the box. That’s something you don’t necessarily get when Pineda is in the middle of midfield. But Brad has also shown he can play right back, he’s shown he’s capable of playing wide in midfield — we’ve played him there, as well — so it all depends on what see is the right mix.”

(On what he likes in what Pineda brings, particularly in a partnership with Alonso…) “Well, Pineda’s experience is very helpful. He’s an experienced player who’s immersed into the game. What’s really helped us a lot, especially losing Brad as we did early, is Pineda is another guy who talks on the field, who talks and helps organize and helps direct things. I think he’s helped Ozzie that way just as Brad helps when he’s on the field that way. So having his ability to talk, having his experience out there on the field, obviously his ability to hit set pieces helps us also, and he’s shown himself to be pretty good at helping out team maintain possession of the ball.”

(On what he makes of the league’s expansion to Atlanta and the prospect of playing at Yankee Stadium next year…) “Wow, thinking of Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth and all those guys. I’ve actually never been to Yankee Stadium, so that’ll be fun. That’ll be a fun experience. … The old or new, never been to Yankee Stadium. My old assistant coach … is a huge Yankees fan, so he’ll probably show up for the game just for that reason. Obviously, again, the league knows better as to what they’re trying to do. I think Atlanta for them is an important market. Strong ownership is very important to our league, as it is to any league, but just getting into that marketplace. It’s a good TV market, as well, when you look at the different numbers that get shown around the different publications. I think those are all positives for the league. The thing with New York FC is how soon can they figure out their field situation and building their own stadium? Obviously that’s going to benefit them. It’s never ideal (to play on a baseball field). When I was coaching at UCLA, we had to play on a baseball field to have our night games, so I know how difficult it is to lay out a field. And the field is going to be a little smaller, it’s also going to play smaller as a result of that, so it will lend itself to a little bit of a different game there. But again, you’re in New York City and their fan base and how the atmosphere is, those are things that will all be determined.”

(On the long passing sequences to set up the game-winning goals the past couple weeks…) “As the season’s gone on, I think we’ve gotten to know each other a little better and understand each other a little better. You guys are here watching training, and sometimes you can see how Oba and Clint look for each other. You see their combinations hitting off and the other players now knowing, ‘OK, if I give the ball to Clint here, he’s generally going to find something out of it. He’s going to connect somewhere. He’s going to keep it going for us.’ And so it’s getting that confidence and that understanding of, ‘Hey, I have to give it, he wants it here, but I know if I keep running, it’ll come back to me at the right time.’ Players have that confidence now, so I think it’s just the increased understanding, the increased amount of time with each other. I think it’s great that late in games we’re able to put together sequences because it shows we’re still physically fresh and mentally in.”

(On if outsiders saying the Sounders play good soccer is important to him…) “Good soccer at the end of the day is you want to be leading when the game is over. At the end of the day, when we played against Real Salt Lake in our home game in our first year, was that good soccer or bad soccer? You probably couldn’t tell me, but you could tell me we won the game. All of that is sort of interrelated, but certainly we always want to hold onto possession. We want to keep the ball. I’ve always been a coach who believes in wing play. Sometimes you sacrifice things, but I think our wing play is coming along. We’re getting play from the flanks but we’re also able to connect down the middle. I think our ability to connect and our spacing has gotten better as time goes on. I think the soccer we play is good. I think the soccer we play is entertaining. As every coach, you want it to be better, but it’s never perfect. The game is a turnover game. Every team turns it over, no matter how good you are, and it’s how you react to that that’s important.”

(On the Rapids under new coach Pablo Mastroeni…) “He’s certainly not afraid to mix and match his lineups, so he’s done that and it’s a little bit harder to prepare for because you’re not sure who’s going to play where and what the combinations are. He’s feeling his way through it and feeling his way through his team, because they’re adding some players or guys are into their second year now, as well. His formation has changed a little bit over the weeks, but he’s an experienced guys. He’s been around the league for a long time. He’s been at the international level, as well. Everybody is different. I think a guy who gets into coaching soon after playing like he did, you’re already starting to think like a coach at the end of your playing career and you’re thinking about, ‘What’s this all about?’ He’s prepared himself and I think he’s done a good job so far.”

(On coming home, where the team has struggled, after a successful road trip…) “Yeah, we want to transfer our road success into home success. I think the road trip was great. I thought the guys showed a lot of character and played well and came back. … Now it’s a matter of us doing the same things at home, coming out with the same results at the end of the day, because we want to show all our fans that capability. But it’s also something that’s important to us as we try to move forward and get the points that we need to get into the playoff position that we want. … Certainly having a good home record is important.”

(On if Kevin Parsemain had his ACL surgery Tuesday…) “Yeah, he did. Surgery went well. Dr. Morris texted me and was very pleased with the surgery. An ACL is an ACL, but it wasn’t a complicated one. Hopefully that means on the rehab side of things he’ll be on the sooner side rather than the later side, but obviously he’s going to be out for a while.”

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