October 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM
Reporters got a chance to catch up briefly with Sounders FC general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer after Thursday’s practice, mainly to discuss there being NFL lines on the CenturyLink Field surface for Saturday’s playoff game against Portland.
A couple other topics came up, too.
Here is a transcript:
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(What should the fans be prepared for in terms of NFL lines on the field Saturday?) “Yeah, they should be prepared for a football field pretending to be a soccer field. It’s the unfortunate reality of a two-professional-team stadium with the timing. We probably could’ve avoided this if we had done a little better job collecting points toward the end of the season, but it is what it is. It’s still going to be FieldTurf. It’s still going to be 114 by 74. It’s still going to have two goals, an 18-yard box with a midfield line and stripes. Obviously we’ve had five years of doing a pretty good job of managing it and making sure that we don’t have football lines, just I think maybe the one playoff game last year where we had some football lines. And we’re not happy about it, but we’re going to have to make the most of it.”
(This is in no way a choice, right?) “The only way around it is creating massive risk for a nationally televised NFL game. Again, in the weighed risk, I understand why this is where we’re at with this solution. That said, we are going to continue to push and try to figure out ultimately over time whether there are technologies, work force opportunities, creative solutions to never have this happen, but for now, it is what it is.”
October 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM
Sounders FC general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer spoke for reporters for a while after Tuesday’s practice. The interview ran about 20 minutes long and covered topics from the team’s form, to the playoffs, to the production (or lack thereof of Clint Dempsey), to the job security of coach Sigi Schmid and more.
Here is a transcript:
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(What were the emotions after this weekend? Celebratory after clinching a playoff berth?) “Look, celebratory? No. I don’t think we’ve ever really celebrated after… Well, maybe the first year making the playoffs. But after that first year, it became kind of an expectation just like in the community, with our fans, with the media, with everybody in the organization — we expect to make the playoffs. Not celebratory, but check mark for one of our goals for the year. Now we know we need to move on and perform in the playoffs.”
(Is it safe to say then that just making the playoffs does not a successful season make?) “For us, it’s kind of a minimum standard, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been a successful season. I think it means it hasn’t been a failure of a season, but we want to win trophies, and you don’t get a trophy for making the playoffs.”
(What do you make of setting another attendance record and can that record continue indefinitely?) “Can we keep it going indefinitely? I have my doubts. Can we keep it going for one more year? Two more years? Three more years? We hope. And I guess going back to the original question, our fans have been amazing. It’s been sort of humbling and just made me really proud to be part of this community to see the support that the team gets, see the support the players and coaches get in good times and in bad. Obviously, it’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster season, but our fans have stuck behind us. When we take a goal at home, and they’re as loud as ever, it means a lot. It keeps the guys motivated to continue to perform. It’s been a pretty amazing run, and we want to keep that going.”
October 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM
There was one Sounder on the practice field longer than the rest Wednesday: Michael Gspurning. The goalkeeper, of course, was benched for the first time Sunday, so he stayed out maybe as long as 45 minutes after the rest of the team had gone inside.
Well, league pool goalkeeper Doug Herrick stayed out with him.
Reporters got a chance to talk to Gspurning after he was done. Here is a transcript of what he had to say for the first time since losing his starting job:
* * *
(So how are you feeling after all this?) “I feel all right. Of course I’m not happy with the situation, but as long as I think about it, I don’t want to make a comment on the decision. It’s up to the coach. I just can say I’m proud of what I’ve done in these two years to now, with the personal success I’ve had and with the team. This stuff didn’t change at all. Of course I have established myself as one of the best ‘keepers, I think, in the league, and you expect from a goalkeeper with this quality that he’s making a couple of saves sometimes that we don’t expect. Of course I expect this, too, so these two games I didn’t make the saves. I don’t have to talk about the last goal, I take the responsibility, but this is now over. I can’t change it, and I’m looking forward. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t mean now anything about my quality. I think we didn’t take the result as a team. In my opinion, the only thing I can do now is look forward and give the best in practice. Yeah, looking forward.”
(Are you still confident in yourself?) “Absolutely. As I’ve said, games like this happen. Did I win these games? No, of course I didn’t. For me, the most important thing is always if a ‘keeper wins games or not. I won a lot of games for the Sounders I think the last two games. I didn’t win these two games, but did I lose the games myself? I don’t think so either. I know that from the quality of one of the best ‘keepers in the league, you expect that he’s making one-on-one saves and unstoppable saves, and I was unlucky, too, in those two games. In Vancouver, the shot touched here [points to his elbow]. It was a negative run and I can handle it. It doesn’t mean anything about my quality.”
(Was there any benefit to taking a step back for maybe one game just to get away from the bad spell?) “I had a conversation with (coach Sigi Schmid), and he explained his thoughts. I have to accept them. In the end, maybe you come out stronger from this. It’s a situation where, yeah, you have to prove character and, if you’re able, to put yourself behind and do the best for the team. I’ve tried to do this, but to be honest, I don’t see any good thing about it at the moment that I’m not playing.”
(Schmid’s characterization has deemed less like a demotion but as a break. Is there some comfort in that?) “Yeah. He explained it like this, that I was also unlucky in the situation. That’s not my fault, but I was unlucky. And he wanted to give me a break. As long as it’s a break, then it’s OK.”
(Do you know your status for Saturday?) “No. I wasn’t thinking about this, to be honest.”
(People know you as an outgoing guy, but has this been difficult to take?) “It’s tough. Of course it’s difficult. I’ve been playing seven years in a row now, eight years, and to be honest sitting on the bench was very uncomfortable for me because you’re waiting for the game, you don’t know what it brings. Maybe you have to be ready in the first minute or in the last minute. It was tougher for me to be cool and calm than even if I was playing. Sounds weird, but it is like this because it was so different for me.”
October 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Here are some team-provided quotes from Sounders FC’s Eddie Johnson following his call-up to the U.S. men’s national team for World Cup qualifying. The forward has already played 14 international games this year, and could get to 16 in games Friday versus Jamaica and Oct. 15 at Panama; he has played 20 MLS games for Seattle.
* * *
(On the call-up…) “Any chance to wear the U.S. jersey, it’s an honor and it’s a privilege and it’s something you don’t want to take for granted. Myself and Brad Evans, it’s tough to leave our team here because at the start of the season we set goals as a team and winning the Supporters’ Shield is something that I’d be lying if I said any franchise doesn’t set as one of their goals. We’re in the race for it, and it’s a tough time to leave. But like I said previous times before when we had to leave, if we’re going to leave, we have to go get the job done with the national team. We’ve got two more World Cup qualifying games and we want to win the group. That’s why Klinsmann called in a strong group. I’m very confident with my teammates back here in Seattle that they can get the job done in two games that we miss. We’ve got Clint coming back from injury, Oba’s there, Steve Zakuani is still pushing for his fitness and stuff, so we’ve got a strong team. We’ve got to miss the Portland game, though… Those are games we look forward to every year. I know when I leave, I got to make sure that if I’m leaving it has to be for a good cause. It was one thing to get called into national team, but if you’re going and you’re going to take it for granted, you’re not going to get anything out of it. You might as well not even go. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity again, and I want to make the most of it.”
(On having played the most international games of all U.S. players this year…) “It goes to show, for one, the type of organization that I’m in and the environment I’m in in Seattle. We’ve got a very professional organization. Dave Tenney and those guys, and Chad, they’re very good about doing our Omegawaves after the games and making sure we get the right recovery and listening to Omegawaves in terms of how hard to the push the players throughout the week, and just taking care of your body. I give a lot of credit to Danielle, too, with the national team. She works for AP, she’s our nutritionist, and everyone has a different diet. We just try to follow the diet that she’s set for us and stay on top of that and take care of your body — ice baths after every training session and after games, and getting your massages and stuff. I still feel like I’m 21.”
October 3, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid met with reporters after the team returned to practice Thursday, and a good portion of the interview centered on recent comments from USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann covered in a previous post.
Klinsmann indicated Tuesday that he won’t take the MLS schedule or consideration of MLS teams into account when it comes to the U.S. roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers — even after the U.S. has already qualified.
One of the players expected to report to USMNT camp is Clint Dempsey, even while he recovered from a hamstring injury. That, of course, is subject to change until the final announcement this weekend, likely Sunday, which will apparently take injury updates into account.
Enough context, here is Schmid:
* * *
(What is your reaction to comments for USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann saying he’s worried about his team and not yours or any other MLS team regarding the roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers?) “Every coach is worried about his team. I have to be worried about my team, not his. It’s just a matter of he’s got to do what he thinks is best for his team and I have to do what I think is best for my team. … There are a number of players on yellow cards, so you hope some guys don’t get intentional yellow cards so they can return to their team for the midweek game the following week. You hope they don’t play that card. In the old days, it used to be if your second yellow was the last game of qualifying, you’d miss a World Cup game. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think they’ve changed that so it doesn’t carry over. So that doesn’t have an impact, but everybody has to do what they have to do. There is prize money. This is bonus money, I’m sure, for players and coaches whether you finish first in your group or not. All that factors into things.”
(Is this a change of attitude with from previous USMNT coaches?) “No, every national team coach has been the same. When Bruce Arena was the national team coach, he didn’t care. He cares now because he’s the Galaxy coach. But he didn’t care. Bradley didn’t care. Again, you’re faced with your job, and so you have to do what you have to do. At the end of the day, that determines your decision.”
(Does the onus then fall on MLS to schedule differently?) “But you don’t know. At the start of the season, we barely had Eddie on the team. Now it turns out we have three guys on the team. So at the start maybe the schedule doesn’t look so bad. Now you’re saying, ‘OK, don’t schedule teams that you know have significant players on the national team on a World Cup break,’ but you don’t know. That can change. So I think scheduling certainly impacts it, but it’s important, too, that you’re bringing in players that are healthy and not players are going to try and get healthy while you’re there.”
(But with a league getting stronger and stronger all the time, a league bringing in national team players from all over, won’t it be more and more of an issue until scheduling changes?) “Yeah, it has to change. Obviously the European players, when they come in, they don’t miss any league games or anything significant because their leagues are in hiatus for those World Cup qualifying dates. It’d be nice if we were in that position. It’s better for our fans. It’s more respectful for our fans. I know what the issue is: the issue is that teams draw better on the weekend than they draw in midweek games. And so you don’t want to knock out weekend games for teams where the revenue (is higher), and that’s important for the survival of the league, as well. But I think our fans are getting more sophisticated, our fans are getting more knowledgeable, and maybe the soccer fan would rather turn up on a Wednesday and see the guys that they want to see than have them turn up on a Saturday and not see the guys that they want to see. I think the sophistication of our fans is increasing and hopefully that would help those teams draw, because if they have to play more midweek games because we have to cancel out some weekends due to World Cup qualifying or international fixture dates, that our fans are able to understand that and will support the games on the Wednesdays.”
October 1, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Sounders FC’s Clint Dempsey has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but he’s been able to return to practice — at least in a limited fashion — and spoke with reporters after Tuesday’s session.
Here is a transcript:
* * *
(How are you feeling and what do you make of your chances of playing this weekend?) “Let’s see how it goes but, yeah, feeling good, feeling strong. Every day is a progression in training, and I’m just going to join in more and more each day. So yeah, I’m excited about getting back to fitness and hopefully playing soon.”
(Is there anything you can do while you’re out to try and get something out of your time injured?) “For sure, it’s always difficult to be out, but at the same time what you can do is you can focus on other things. You can get in the gym and work on other aspects of your game, trying to make sure that you’re strong and you’re not breaking down. I’m looking forward to get on the field. It makes you hungrier in helping these guys do well, but they’ve already been doing well in my absence.”
(Does it factor in that Saturday’s game is on grass, not turf?) “No. If I can go, I can go, whether it’s turf, whether it’s grass, whether it’s dirt. It doesn’t matter.”
September 24, 2013 at 4:01 PM
Sounders FC’s Steve Zakuani was on the bench in Saturday’s 1-1 road tie against the Los Angeles Galaxy. He didn’t play, but it was the first time since April 20 that the midfielder has been available.
Zakuani has been dealing with a groin injury that required midseason surgery.
Here is a transcript of an interview he gave after Tuesday’s practice:
* * *
(On how it felt to be available for the first time in five months…) “I’ve been training pretty good for a while, so I kind of expected to be making my way toward the game-day squad. Obviously it has been a while — I haven’t played since April — so that was a good part of it. Now the next step is obviously to start getting my match fitness on the pitch. So it was good.”
(On how his body feels, following Schmid’s comments that he’s only ready for a limited role at the moment…) “It’s hard to come back after a few months and play 90 minutes right away, obviously. That’s why when you start a season you do preseason and all that — you start building your fitness. So, yeah, I’m not 90-minutes fit right now, but the whole way to get 90-minutes fit is to play matches. Training is good for what it is, but you have to start playing matches to get that match fitness, game fitness, the sharpness and awareness and finding your form on the pitch. It’s just picking up minutes here and there, and then getting my fitness up. That’s the only way I can do it.”
September 16, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Sounders FC newest addition, Adam Moffat, practiced with the team for the first time Monday. He was acquired just before the roster freeze in a trade with Houston that sent midfielder Servando Carrasco and a second-round draft pick to the Dynamo.
Moffat is a Scotsman with a great accent, which unfortunately won’t come across in this post, but here is a transcript of what I felt was an entertaining and informative introductory interview:
* * *
(Feel a little cold?) “It’s freezing, man. … It’s a bit different obviously, but it’s nice to be here. It’s refreshing.”
(How did you feel about the trade?) “I was shocked at first. I didn’t see it coming. And then I was told it was Seattle, and it was a good thing — my wife is from the West Coast, the team is doing great. Sometimes you see those trades happen at that point of the season and it’s guys going to a team at the bottom of the table, and it’s tough. I’m coming to a great place. It’s amazing the form the team is in and I hope to add to that.”
(What’s your relationship like with Sigi Schmid?) “He’s the guy who brought me into the league. I came over and played for Martin Rennie in the USL. Sigi saw me play a few times there. He brought me in at the end of the ’07 season, played a good few games for him in Columbus and then got injured. That was tough, but he knew what he got from me. I give everything I’ve got when I’m out there. It was good, and I’m happy to be back playing for him.”
September 16, 2013 at 12:51 PM
MLS Player of the Week is a new concept to Obafemi Martins, who only came to the league this year.
Either way, the honor has been bestowed on the forward after his one-goal, one-assist performance Friday against Real Salt Lake, as a 2-0 win vaulted Seattle to first place.
Martins reaction to winning the award?
“I don’t know about it, but thank you,” he said. “I appreciate that. … I hope I continue to play well and try to score goals.”
Martins has eight goals, tied for the team lead, in just 17 games this season. He scored 0.60 goals every 90 minutes, which is in the top 10 in the league, and the Sounders are 9-0 in games he has either a goal or assist.
I believe Eddie Johnson was the last Sounder to win Player of the Week, and that came in May after his two-goal performance against FC Dallas.
After a jump is a bit more from our conversation with Martins:
September 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM
The Sounders FC duo of Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson returned to practice Thursday and spoke to reporters afterward. Both are expected to play a role in Friday’s home game against Real Salt Lake, but coach Sigi Schmid said that might mean off the bench.
Here is a transcript of our interview with Dempsey and more from Johnson, who also discussed his “Pay me!” goal celebration, which was covered in an earlier post:
* * *
(How was the time away with the USMNT?) “It was good. We qualified for the World Cup, which was the main goal. It helps continue the growth of the game in this country, which is good, and now it’s about working hard to make sure we do something when we go to Brazil.”
(Do you feel ready to play tomorrow?) “Yeah, I’ll be ready — whatever capacity … Sigi wants to play me. It was good to come out here today and get some of the cobwebs out from travel. Now it’s about doing the things that are going to make you be as prepared as possible that when you play, or if you play, you can do a good job.”
(Nice to see the Sounders get a couple wins from afar?) “Yeah, it was great. I remember watching some of the games when we were away and rooting the guys on. It was great for Neagle; he got two game-winning goals, which is big. I thought the team played well and climbed the ladder. Now it’s about staying there and making sure that we get as high as possible, make the playoffs and see what happens from there.”
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