Considering all the goal-scoring problems the Sounders have had recently, it was kind of odd to hear all the questions today basically concerned with what they’re going to do with all those goal-scorers.
However, once -- if -- everyone becomes available, it will be interesting to see what coach Sigi Schmid does with Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and newcomer Nelson Valdez all at his disposal.
Here’s some of what Schmid and general manager Garth Lagerwey had to say today:
On Valdez’s position when everyone’s healthy) Right now I’m not worried about that because not everybody is health. When everybody’s healthy we’ll solve that, and we’ll figure out that problem. Nelson’s got to get himself up to speed, fitness-wise and Oba and Clint and everybody. Once they’re all healthy we’ll figure out a plan for all that. To speculate right now makes no sense.
On when Valdez might be ready) He just traveled. He’s been here now I think two days. So with the travel coming over, played a little bit later in the Cope America. Took some time off there. He’s the guys who gains his fitness pretty quickly. I think he’ll be ready for minutes next weekend – but that’s minutes, I don’t know how many. But I think another week and he’ll be ready.
If three forward is a possibility) It’s an option. But we also have five games in 14 days after this next game in LA when we go into the next series of games. There’s probably a little bit of rotation in there, and after we get through with that rotation, we’ll figure out what’s the best way to get as many talented players on the field at the same time.
One what excited about Valdez) He’s a very hard worker. He’s technically very good. He’s got very good character – I think you probably senses that, he’s got a very good personality. I think he’s going to fit in well with the group. He gives us a guy who can play up front, he’s played wide before as well. He’s played different positions, so that’s a good thing as well. He’s not the tallest guy, he’s very good in the air – he gets up and he challenges very well. He’s got big-game experience. He’s been in big tournaments, important matches.
On if spark from new blood) Everything is still new right now. As everybody gets healthy and you realize now there’s tremendous competition for positions, that’s what sparks everybody.
Of if the three latest signings can mesh by playoffs) Yeah, without a doubt. Our objective as always is to make the playoffs. It’s something we’ve done every year; we don’t expect that to be different this year. Right now we’ve just got to get ourselves healthy and get everybody out there on the field, get everybody on the same page, and get everybody out there competing for positions. That will make us a better team.
Valdez signing) Really exciting to have him. His pedigree just doesn’t come around very much. Got him on a good value on a free transfer. It’s credit to our scouting department, who has tracked these guys over multiple years, and we were able to find him at the right time, and I think at the right form. Scored a goal at Copa America against Argentina. This is a guy that’s played at the very highest level very recently, and he’s a guy that we think is going to transition quickly. I talked before about my concern with some of the midseason acquisitions. But this is a guy who, he may not do his interviews in English right away, but he speaks English, speaks German, Spanish: He speaks six languages. Really educated guy, worldly guy. Has played for a decade in the Bundesliga; has played all over the world. Those are the guys who that you don’t worry about. He’s going to come, he’s going to do just fine. … He really a good guy. We’re really, really excited to add a player of that caliber to our team.
More on Valdez) He’s a brilliant attacker. He can come from wide positions and he can come from central positions, so he gives us tactical flexibility. He’s a guy who can play for with Clint and Oba and he can play when one of those guys is out – which is really what we’re looking for. … He’s about 5-11, but he’s pretty good in the air for his size. And again, he’s a guy that can hurt you a lot of different ways. He’s a really hard worker – if you look at his date from the Bundesliga in particular, you can see that he runs. And sometimes what you don’t want in high-profile players is guys who won’t play for the team. Not only is this guy going to play for the team, but he’s going to work. We’re so excited to add him. … (new budget for new rules)
On the three DP forwards) My job as a general manager is to give my coach options. And by adding Valdez, we give our coach a lot of options. Look, we just went through a rough pitch with Clint and Oba both out, and we need to avoid being in that situation again, where if we lose one or both of those guys that we have an answer. And we have an answer.
On the club after summer signings of Erik Friberg, Andres Ivanschitz and Valdez) We’ve added three starting-caliber players. Just doing the math, that’s 25 percent of a team. So those are guys who are going to come in and compete, so they’re going to come in and compete. … It’s going to depend on how they come in and how they perform, but I think we made the group better. And I think a lot of times with group dynamics like this, you want competition. I’ve noticed in training over the last day or two, everybody ticks up a notch now that we’ve got Valdez in training. You have more choices, more options. Guys see that they’re going to have to fight for their places, and that’s a good thing usually for the group.