The Sounders returned to training today, running through a very split training session, with many of the players who went long minutes in Vancouver on Saturday regenerating in various ways. In any case, it will be a quick turnaround, as the Sounders return to CenturyLink Field on Wednesday, again facing the Whitecaps.
Seattle took the Cascadia Cup over the weekend with a 3-0 win at BC Place, and the stakes are clear again this time: The Sounders need to win to advance to the knockout round of CONCACAF Champions Legue, while a draw or loss eliminated them.
Here’s some of what coach Sigi Schmid and forward/midfielder Lamar Neagle had to say:
On today’s training: The guys who played on Saturday, we wanted them to regen a little more. Everybody likes to do it a little bit differently, so a couple of guys stayed inside, a couple of guys came out and ran, a couple of guys came out and did a little 5-v-2, and there are always a couple of guys who want to come out and play a little bit more.
On the health of Osvaldo Alonso: OK. We’ll know more later today. But he said he felt much, much better today.
On facing Vancouver again: We know that we need a win. A loss or a tie will eliminate us. So we’ve got to go out and we’ve got to win the game Wednesday.
On if he’s ever faced the same team so often in a single season: I think one time what I was in LA we played San Jose a bunch of times. In those days we used to play them four times in the regular season, and then we ended up playing them another two times in the playoffs, so it was like six times. This is added up to be five times now, and three trips to Vancouver, so it’s a little much sometimes. And then you could meet in the playoffs and it becomes all of a sudden seven .
On if being five points clear of MLS playoff red line will impact CCL lineup: We’ll see. I think the No 1 thing for our team is to make sure that our players continue to improve physically. I think we have guys who are playing out there and they’re playing 90 minutes, are they 90-minutes fit yet? No, probably not. So we don’t want to put any player into a situation where we’re going to jeopardize injuring them. But on the same token, it’s a game we have to win, and there’s a mix that will probably result in this game a little more so than in the past games.
On the value of extra 24 hours from return to MLS next Sunday at Kansas City, rather than Saturday: It certainly helps in the other end, and knowing that we’re coming Saturday in Wednesday. I think one of the games we played this year we had to go from Sunday into Wednesday to play. Those are better breaks for sure.
On the clear goal of needing a win to advance: Things are on the line again, so we’ll see how this one shakes out. After beating them like that at their place they’re going to want to come back out and get some revenge, so it should be a crazy game.
On a chance for more playing time: A little momentum in the last few games. We’ve gotten some result to go our way, so hopefully we can keep this going right into playoffs.
On scoring in first CCL match vs. Vancouver: Yeah snuck one in at their place. Hopefully I can get in form and get antoher one against them.
On larger CCL crowds because this game is included in Sounders’ season-ticket package: It’s awesome. That will be good for us going into this game. It’s really important for us, for the club, for U.S. Soccer. Hopefully we can take it a little bit further.
One facing on team so often: It always seems to be Vancouver or Portland that we play a few times in a row, which is always funny that that kind of happens for whatever reason, whether it’s Open Cup, CONCACAF or league play.
On if they get sick of each other: I think so. It’s a little funny seeing them on the weekend and then knowing in a few more days you’re going to have to play them again. Luckily this one is at our place and we got a result at their place.
On the Sounders starting strong and now seeming to be ending strong: I think that’s one of the most important parts. If anybody had their choice when they wanted the down part of the season, it would probably be in the middle. You want the beginning to be good, and then you’re end going into the playoffs to be really good.