The Sounders have completed their final training session before taking the Qwest Field pitch tomorrow night against Toronto FC. Sigi Schmid’s chief topic seemed to be the mystery surrounding the game. Toronto is making a lot of chances under new coach Aron Winter, while Seattle will have to adjust to the losses of offensive threats O’Brian White and Steve Zakuani.
Some highlights from Schmid:
On a possible new shape for the Sounders) It just forces us to change a little bit because there are not many players in our league who can do what Zakuani can do in term of their ability to beat defensive players one-on-one on a consistent basis from a flank area. So it alters how you look at it. You always have to use the talents of the players, so it depends who’s out there and that depends how we change. But to say right now, ‘OK, we’re going to change now into a 3-5-2’ – no, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about how we’re going to shape our team a little bit out of a slightly different formation.
On the return of Nate Sturgis) Nate was an important part of our team last year. He was involved with Toronto early in the season starting a couple of games. He hasn’t really gotten on the field the last few games – hasn’t even gotten on the bench. I know it says that it might be starting, but we’re not sure. Certainly, Nate is a guy that in his two years here played some very vital and key minutes for us here and was very involved in our ability to resurrect our season last year.
On Toronto’s changes) You try to get their media guide, you look at pictures of the players that are on there media guide, you determine who these guys are. Obviously they made a lot of changes, they brought in new face, people from Europe as well into their team. There are a few guys obviously who we know, whether it’s a Santos or a Peterson or guys like that – (Dan) Gargan, Ty Harden, guys who have been around the league a little bit. So you are aware of those: Alan Gordon. But there are a lot of new people and what makes it a little bit harder is they’ve really changed from game to game: who’s played in what positions. Maicon Santos has played in the hole behind the center forward, he’s played as the center forward; (Alen) Stevanovic has played the left-sided guy, he’s played in the hole, he’s played up top. You don’t know how they’re going to go. But they’ve stayed fairly constant in their formation, so we feel fairly confident we’ll have an idea what their formation is.
On Toronto probably also wondering how Sounders will change) They’re probably thinking a little bit ‘How are they going to play, and what are they going to do?’ But Aron Winter’s focus with his team is trying to establish how he wants to play. I think he’s less concerned about the opposition right now. I don’t know what kind of contract he has right now – everybody’s always concerned with winning or losing – but it seems he’s going to be given time – more than just a season – to get to team to re-shape itself and establish a new identity. Sometimes when you have that time as a coach it allows you to be a little more patient and experiment a little bit more.
On Toronto’s less direct attacking style) We have an awareness of their desire to spread the field wide with their outside backs, with their wingers, with their center backs spread pretty wide, too. We just have to be careful. The thing is by doing that you create a lot of space for yourselves if the team overcommits sometimes and overreacts. That’s what they’re trying to learn is how to play out of those spaces. And it also puts a premium on your ability to pass accurately, and that’s something the team has done intermittently very well in games. So we have to be aware of that. We have our game plan as to what we’re going to do and how we’re going to deal with that.
In other health news, Schmid said Mauro Rosales will be a gametime decision and there is no timetable for White’s return.