Tukwila - Despite a steady rain for the hour-and-a-half practice, coach Sigi Schmid called the Seattle Sounders' Saturday training "sharp and short ... to make sure we're ready for our game Tuesday."
Seeing the opponent’s name on the schedule should be enough to get them focused on their MLS opener at Qwest Field, as they face last season’s Western Conference champion, the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Galaxy had the best regular-season MLS record in 2010 and knocked the Sounders out of the playoffs.
“Last year we played L.A. five times and we won only one,” Schmid said. “It’s definitely a team that motivates our group of players.”
Schmid was optimistic about the return to practice of two players who were injured in their final preseason game on Wednesday. Brad Evans (hamstring) and Steve Zakuani (hip) both saw action in workouts Saturday.
“They did some work today,” Schmid said after practice. “Now, the thing is how they feel (today). But we’re pretty pleased with what they were able to do today, both of them were able to run a little bit so we’re happy about that.”
With David Beckham and Landon Donovan (“probably the most influential player in our league,” Schmid said), the Galaxy has the league’s star power, but Schmid cited their addition of veteran striker Juan Pablo Angel as a major move.
Schmid said he would have liked to have seen more victories and goals in the preseason, but that’s not always an indicator of where the team stands in its readiness for the regular season.
“In 2007, we (Columbus Crew) went undefeated in the preseason and didn’t make it to the playoffs,” Schmid said. “And in 2008 we were like .500 in the preseason and we won the championship, so it’s got no bearing ... it’s not the ultimate predictor.”
From a more subjective standpoint, he said, “For me, it’s, ‘Have we accomplished things? Have we moved forward as a team?’ I think, yeah, we’ve done a good job of identifying the group of players ... who can play where, and who is an alternative to whom?”
Schmid was asked about comments made by MLS commissioner Don Garber regarding interpretation of certain rules, particularly offside, which will now be relaxed to “benefit attacking soccer.”
Schmid called the unknown aspects of this “pretty scary.”
“I think protecting the players, promoting offensive soccer is all good and positive, and is what we want to do,” he said. “But it’s going to take time for the officials to interpret what they’re being asked to do, and it’s going to take time for the players to understand how the officials are interpreting the call.”
FOOTBALL AND FUTBOL
Schmid was asked if he thought a prolonged NFL work stoppage might cause more fan attention to be focused on the MLS.
He made it clear he’d like the issue to be solved quickly, and not just as a fan.
“For us, we’re not going to sit here and say it’s a good situation for us; we’re a Seahawks-Sounders organization and we want the Seahawks to be successful and the Seahawks want the Sounders to be successful,” Schmid said. “For them to be successful, having a good and quick end to (labor issues) is important.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org