Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said more today than just his shot across the bow of Portland supporters.
On Osvaldo Alonso’s injury status…) “He got through today no problems. It was good.”
On Alonso’s importance to the team…) “I think that’s a very important position for any team when you look around the world. You look at teams that win titles and win trophies, and the hub of their team is in that central midfielder position. You look at Real Salt Lake, and [Kyle] Beckerman played a big role for them in 2009. In 2010, when it was Colorado, it was a big role by [Jeff] Larentowicz and [Pablo] Mastroeni in those positions. You look at the Galaxy last year, without Juninho sitting in the hole there, they also become a different team. For us, it’s the same. You look internationally, and you look at the Xavi’s and the [Andrea] Pirlo’s and people like that who sit in that position-the [Bastian] Schweinsteiger’s that play that holding position. It’s a crucial position because you’re the defensive hound chasing the ball, tracking it down, trying to win it, and you’re also the first part of the offensive possession oftentimes. Being able to play both those roles requires a special player.”
(On the big crowd expected Sunday night…) “It makes a tremendous statement for the city of Seattle because our fans are able to come out in numbers. They’re supportive, they’re going to be loud, they’re going to be boisterous, and they’re here in numbers, which is the big thing.”
(On the continual growth of Sounders FC crowds…) “It’s our fourth year now of doing what people thought was going to be a sort of hit and miss operation, ‘Yeah, it’s got it right now, but people will change their minds.’ I think we’re showing consistency, we’re showing staying power which is a reflection of our fans and the support and the city, and it’s also a reflection of the club, I think, because we’ve been consistently a solid team, a good team, a team that’s been in the playoffs. It would have probably been harder to sustain that support if we hadn’t had some success on the field to go along with it. It’s just a reflection of the sporting community in this area. It’s the same when you look at UW football and the Seahawks, it’s just a great sports town and there’s a great sense of community here. I think that helps fuel what we’re trying to do on the field.”
(On the pitch at CenturyLink being larger than the pitch at JELD-WEN Field…) “When you think of it, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you do the math and you add it up, it ends up being a lot more acreage out there. That helps take a little bit of the steam out of the game, per se. It gives you a little more time on the ball, it gives you a little more opportunity to open the game up, it gives a little more opportunity for individuals to show through, as well. I know Portland feels strongly that they have some individuals that can play on this type of pitch, as well, and that’s why we play the game on Sunday.”
(On how he expects Portland to play…) “I think since Gavin [Wilkinson]‘s had them, they’ve switch to-whatever you want to call it-a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-3-3, I don’t care what you want to call it, but it’s that sort of a formation. They’ve stayed fairly consistent with that formation. They’ve stayed fairly consistent with their lineup the last three-four games, with the exception of cards or an injury here and there. They’ve really played the same people. [Diego] Chara might be back for our game, so he could be back in the starting lineup. Outside of that, they all seem to be pretty healthy, so we expect a similar type of team shape and lineup as what they’ve played over the last four or five games.”
(On Portland being able to clinch Cascadia Cup with a win or draw…) “I think it’s a big game for us, as well, obviously, because we’ve got a ton of fans coming out here. It’s an important game, the Cascadia Cup is important to us, but we’re in the playoffs. We’ve got things to do down the line there, so it’s not like this our do-or-die game where all our eggs are in one basket, or we’re going to risk a guy playing with a damaged knee trying to win this game or something like that. The motivation is a little bit different for both teams, but it’s great it’s going to have the atmosphere that it is. They haven’t played a Cascadia Cup game on the road yet-they’ve played all their Cascadia Cup games at home, and they did well with those home games. They picked up eight points, they got two wins and two draws at home, which is great. We need to take care of our business at home and hope that Vancouver does the same when they get to play them at home and hope that the Cascadia Cup stays here in Seattle where it belongs.”