With a new season about to start Tuesday we got some time today with Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer and coach Sigi Schmid for some specific and some more general questions about the coming season. I’ll have the Hanauer highlights on the blog and in the Sunday paper. Meanwhile, here’s some of what Schmid had to say:
On returning to training: After Wednesday it was good for the guys to have a couple of days without training, spend some time with their families. Today was one of those days after you’ve been off for a couple of days, you want to get back into the rhythm of training.
On preparing for Club America on Tuesday: It’s always about us and how we play. Obviously they have an edge going in because of the fact they’re already seven or eight league games into the year. You can’t do anything to replicate that game experience or the rhythm of playing a weekly schedule. But I think we’re fit. I think we’re ready to go. We have intelligent players who know how to manage a game as we go forward. That’s going to be very important as we play on Tuesday.
On central defender Roman Torres’ progress from knee injury: Pretty much on schedule, maybe a little ahead at this stage. We’ve been very happy with how he’s been progressing. Roman’s been very happy as well.
On players who benefit from new formation and others who don’t: I don’t know if it plays to their skills more in terms of some of the guys. Having spent more time with them now I think we have a better feel for what’s their best position. We just come to the decision that Darwin Jones’ best position was to play as a winger, not to be a holdup forward. He can do that once in a while in a pinch, but he’s more of a winger. Victor Mansaray we think is more of a holdup forward than he is a winger. Those have been two of the changes. (Aason) Kovar has grown and improved where he’s now coming in off the right wing as well as the left, but he’s comfortable coming inside and he’s more aggressive in the box, so that’s been comfortable for him too. Obviously we’ve switched our diamond a little bit and our triangle – how we play it in midfield – I think that’s conducive. You’ve got Ozzie (Alonso), you’ve got (Erik) Friberg, you’ve got (Andreas) Ivanshitz, who played deep at the end of the game as well. You’ve got Roldan. You’ve got a bunch of guys who can play in that hole and that position. (Michael) Farfan can play any of those three as well. I think it complements what they can do, also.
On willingness to go through season with the strikers who trained today: I think we’ve got to look and make a smart decision, not a knee-jerk decision as we move forward. Obviously I think right now there’s enough quality and depth there. If you get into the summer and you get all three of your strikers called up to the national teams, that’s going to be difficult, but you can’t really plan for that. That’s something that, OK you’re going to sign three strikers and put them in reserve? The other guys have to step up, and I think we have people capable of stepping up. Now it’s easier for a Darwin Jones to step up and play with (Clint) Dempsey and say (Nelson)Valdez; and it’s easier for somebody to step up and play with Dempsey and (Jordan) Morris than it is for all of them to be gone. That makes it more difficult. But you can’t try and solve that problem, because with the salary cap you can’t. We’re not Chelsea. We don’t have all those guys.
On this roster heading into season, 1 through 11, plus depth: I feel pretty comfortable with our depth. I think we’re still maybe resolving some decisions at centerback. We still have one of two too many here so we still have to make some decisions in that arena. In terms of our depth I was very happy. Even today watching them play I thought there was some good football out there. There were some good sequences that the first group had, but also the second group had some very good sequences. You look at depth, as I cited earlier, when we (won a scrimmage against a good Korean team) we showed we have some young players who can play.