Here’s my quick transcript from coach Sigi Schmid’s conference call this morning, looking back at the disappointment of the U.S. Open Cup and ahead to the achievements that he hopes lie ahead.
On bouncing back in time for the Quakes tomorrow) We haven’t really talked about it. I think it’s important after a time like this – we spoke briefly after the game – it’s just important to give people a little bit of space so everybody can sort of get it out of their system in their own way. But we know there’s a lot more game, there’s a league championship still ahead of us. We can focus on that right now, and we’ve got to get ready for (the Earthquakes), it’s a big game.
You have to remember … this is their second game in two weeks, and it’s our fifth game. Obviously it makes a difference. … I can’t tell you right now exactly what our lineup is. There will be some fresh faces, some guys who didn’t play on Wednesday night, for sure. There will be some guys who did play on Wednesday and put in a lot of minutes who will be asked to put in minutes again. So it’s going to be a combination of that. But are we going to be the sharpest that we can be or the best that we can be? Probably not, because we’re going in there under different circumstances. But we’re going to be competitive and we’ve coming in to get a result.
On this game as do-or-die for Supporters Shield) I’m sort of in Bruce Arena’s camp: I don’t know how much value there is in the Supporters Shield with the uneven schedule. But at the end of the day, San Jose has played well, has gotten good results, is the front-running team right now. But now they play all their game against Western opponents. Who knows how many points they’re going to give up or not give up. So it’s tough to tell. For us, the Supporters Shield would be a nice thing, and three points here would be nice. What we look at more is trying to win the season series with each team that we play against. And so for us to be able to win the season series with San Jose, we need to come up with a win or a tie so that’s our objective. We look at more short-term/near-term objectives, and if we can achieve those objectives, then I think the Supporters Shield will sort of follow as well.
On San Jose as a growing rival) I think rivalries get created when good teams play each other. Yeah, there are some rivalries that you think are created because of proximity – which they are at times. Usually the rivalry really becomes a rivalry when both teams involved are quality teams, and then the games take on and even greater meaning. And then there’s something there – either the proximity or they’ve continually done battle, like a Celtics-LA Lakers type of things over the year: then it becomes a rivalry. San Jose this year is an excellent team. I think we’ve been pretty consistent over the last four years. So it’s definitively turning into much more of a rivalry than it was in the prior years.
On San Jose leading the league in late and stoppage time goals) They’re a team that keeps coming at you. Their depth has definitely improved, so they have the ability to bring on subs and not detract from the quality of their game. … I think they’ve been able to maintain pressure on teams, because they go into a more direct attack at the end of games. Sometimes they go with the double spearhead up front of Gordon and Lenhart, who do a good job of contesting balls and winning balls, so the ball ends up being in front of your goal a lot. So it’s not by accident. It’s because of their quality, and because of the way that they play at the end of games.
On the importance of returning to 2013 CCL, now that the Open Cup path is closed) It’s important for our club to get back into that tournament because it’s something that we always want to participate in and represent Seattle on a regional basis. I guess the paths are either Supporters Shield or winning MLS Cup or being the runner-up in MLS Cup: getting to the final. So that’s really our path. But that’s our goal anyway: We want to win MLS Cup, we want to get to the Cup final game, and then if we do that we achieve a path into CONCACAF as well.
On if that peovides incentive) Maybe the pain of losing the Open Cup final is something that will help propel us when we get to the playoffs of the MLS Cup, in terms of, well, we don’t want to feel that pain again. In the past year’s we’ve felt the joys and enjoyed the fruits of our labor in the Open Cup. And so maybe that … took the edge off a little as we went to the MLS. Now having gone through that pain, maybe that puts the edge on us as we go to the playoffs. Either way, at the start of this year we determined (the playoffs are) something we want to do much better in, and this just adds extra fuel to that.
On the importance of this game to those goals) We’re going to have to deal with San Jose at some point obviously to get to MLS Cup and that’s why I said winning the season series with teams is important to us. Again, as I said earlier, it’s a unique game because we’re going into the game with much different preparation than they are. But we have to rely upon our depth and play whoever we think will help us produce the result that we need. Our motivation has to be there all the time. Sometimes there’s extra motivations going into games that players find that they can draw upon. We knew that this stretch of games was going to be demanding and difficult, but also games that we were going to win. We’ve won most of them. Unfortunately we tied in the Open Cup and lost of PKs. But we want to win here in San Jose.