And on the eve of the game, Schmid said something I’ve been thinking: That this is probably the Sounders’ toughest Open Cup challenge (although I would add the possible exception of the 2009 championship game in Washington DC). But regardless of which of those was tougher, this one is tough … due to the Sounders ongoing slump, the fact the San Jose is the current MLS points leader and a real Supporters Shield contender, the shorter rest for Seattle, the absence of their No. 1 keeper, and of course the road pitch.
Here’s what Sigi had to say:
On Tuesday’s Open Cup match…) “Obviously it’s a tournament we’ve done well in the past three years. This is probably our most difficult challenge, having to come back and play on just one day’s rest against a team that has two days rest. It is what it is. It’s a challenge we have to accept and we have to rise up to it.”
On San Jose…) “They’re a good team. They’ve built a team over a few years now, and I think they found the right chemistry and the right mix, and they’ve got good depth. They’ve got Wondolowski, but then you could either bring Lenhart or Gordon up front. In midfield, they’ve got different pieces, whether it’s a Khari Stephenson, or a Baca, or a Cronin, or a Chavez. There’s all kinds of different pieces they can bring. It’s definitely, as they’ve shown in their league play, a team that’s much improved.”
On the two Open Cup wins amidst their MLS winless streak…) “You can never throw [the winless streak out] because it’s in league games. Obviously league games are important to us, as well. We need to play better soccer. I think the guys know that. We know that. We know we’re capable of it. It’s difficult when you’re playing from behind and that’s the first thing we have to correct. We just have to make sure we don’t get behind in a game, and the game will go a lot better for us.”
On Kezar Stadium…) “I haven’t been here since–what is it now, 32 years? Shows hold old I am now. My only time coaching here was in 1980, which was my first year at UCLA. We played the University of San Francisco and we lost 2-1 in overtime. It used to be golden goal–or whatever you call it–sudden death. They had a Brazilian forward who hit side netting in that goal over there, and we walked off the field and went home. Considering that was my first year at UCLA, we finished 18-2-2 and University San Francisco went on to win the national title that year, it was okay. It was okay. But the place hasn’t changed much, I’ll tell you that. The walk down the tunnel is still the same. It’s still as dusty as it was back then.”
On what Sounders FC needs to do to start playing better…) “The first thing we have to decide is who we’re going to play because obviously there are some guys where it’s not really going to be possible to bring them back on two days rest in a starting situation. Especially in a game where you have the potential of overtime, as well. So we’re going to have to definitely mix and match. The group that steps on the field has to do a better job of just being a tougher team to score against, being a tougher team overall, making sure that everybody covers for each other and works for each other. I think that’s the most important thing. As I said earlier, the other thing is to not fall behind. It lets us get on top early and then it makes the game go a lot different. It makes the opponent make adjustments and that would help us.”