Sounders coach Sigi Schmid held a conference call with media covering the team today.
Perhaps most interesting was his indication that designated player Christian Tiffert is healthy and that his absence from the team might be something best addressed by general manager Adrian Hanauer.
“There are things that are being discussed with regard to Christian, and part of that is really a better question for Adrian as to where that is,” Schmid said. “He’s not with us right now. He’s training on his own there. He seems to be doing all right with the things that were bothering him at the time. But now it’s gone into another phase that Adrian can address better than I.”
When Shalrie Joseph was signed as a DP earlier this week, Hanauer said that the club would still like to sign a high-profile DP forward, and that one way to open a DP slot would be to buy out an existing DP. With those slots now held by Mauro Rosales, Joseph and Tiffert, Tiffert seemed a logical choice.
Hanauer also had indicated that he expects defender Djimi Traore to be part of this Sounders team, and Schmid confirmed that a signing could be announced next week.
A few other highlights from Schmid’s conference call:
* The injuries to Eddie Johnson and Adam Johansson are minor enough where they could play if it were an MLS or CCL game.
* That is not the case with Joseph, who Schmid said isn’t yet ready due to a calf injury and overall fitness issues.
* Patrick Ianni could go on the injury list to start the regular season.
* The coaches weighed the value of using starters in CCL preparation tonight against Veracruz, as opposed to their value in trying to win the Desert Diamond Cup hardware tomorrow against Real Salt Lake. The decision was to stick with the plan of starters tonight and reserves tomorrow.
Here’s the full transcript:
(On the injury situation at camp…) “Adam Johansson is probably still out for tonight and probably tomorrow, as well. He’s got a slight knee strain, nothing overly serious, but just trying to be precautious with it. Baba Sodade we’re hoping he might be able to play on Saturday. Not quite sure there. Eddie Johnson should play tonight. We might not push him as long. We might only push him for like 60 minutes, but he should be able to play tonight. Shalrie Joseph won’t play tonight or probably tomorrow night. We’re still trying to sort out his calf strain that he has and just build up his fitness at this stage.”
(On if they had any interest in Carlos Ruiz…) “Yeah, there possibly was. Again, those things for us, the issues with the cap and so forth, and that’s certainly something we had to look at when you’re looking at a player like that. I wish Carlos all the best with DC except when they play Seattle.”
(On how close he is to knowing his starting 11…) “I think we’re close. I think injuries are certainly going to play a role in it still—a little bit of aches of pains that way. Also we’re looking at the opening game of the season, not having [Osvaldo] Alonso, not having [Marc] Burch available to us in that game, so that determines a little bit our lineup. And that’s maybe going to predicate our lineup in the game against Tigres, as well. In terms of having an idea where people are, we have an idea there. Tonight we want to see Eddie Johnson play together with [Mauro] Rosales up front. We’ve seen how Estrada played together with Rosales up front, we’ve seen Estrada together with Johnson, so we want to look at different combinations up there.”
(On Mario Martinez…) “I think he’s a quality player and I’ve always felt he’s a quality player. I think last year the situation was the team didn’t really know him. He was in for two or three days and then he was gone for four or five days. Then he was back again, then he was gone. He really didn’t settle in terms of even his living situation in Seattle. I think he’s more settled. The guys know who he is, so that’s made things a lot easier, and he’s in good form right now. Obviously with the camp he’s gone through with Honduras, he’s the guy who’s played the most 90-minute games already. I think he’s already got three under his belt, so his fitness is pretty good, his sharpness is pretty good and he’s a quality player. When he plays for us in midfield, he’s different than Mauro and he’s different than Steve [Zakuani] in a certain way. He’s more of a playmaker. He’s left footed, but he certainly is a guy who’s a good passer of the ball and helps our team play well.”
(On the seriousness of the injuries and if they would be held out if it were regular season…) “Shalrie we’d be holding out at this stage because we want to get his calf right. Eddie Johnson could’ve probably played on Wednesday if that was a season game, Adam Johansson might be playing this weekend if it was a regular-season game, but everything else we’re pretty much treating it how it is.”
(On if Patrick Ianni will start the season on the Injured List…) “It’s possible. We’re going to have to evaluate that because we’ve got to look at six games out. We really only have one game a week…so we’ve really got to evaluate when we’re back in Seattle. By Wednesday or so, we’ll make a decision. It doesn’t matter if we put him on the injury list now or we put him on the injury list on Friday. That’s really no difference in the amount of time he’s have to sit out the way the rules are. So we’re going to get a good evaluation to when he can start actually running again, and then we’ll make that determination.”
(On Will Bates status with the team…) “He’s on a tryout basis with us right now. He’s trying out for the team. He was drafted by us and we’re taking a look at him. Yesterday was actually the first day he was able to participate as a neutral player with the rest of the group. We’ll see how he feels today. Hopefully there are no setbacks. We’re hoping that sometime next week that he’ll get the all clear to be full-in in training, and then we’ll give him a couple weeks to evaluate him and make a decision.”
(On the importance of Saturday night’s Desert Diamond Cup final…) “It’s always nice to win something and to win some silverware. We actually debated about that as a coaching staff. We were asking ourselves, ‘Do we maybe play our first team on Saturday to try and win this thing? Or do we stay with the team of playing our first team tonight against Veracruz?’ We decided to stay with our plan that we’re not trying to win a battle here and lose the war. We want to make sure that we prepare properly for our season opener but that we also prepare properly for Tigres. So if we win the trophy Saturday night that’ll be great and that’ll be a tribute to our depth and our reserves guys, because they’re going to bear the brunt of the load in that game. But if we don’t, it’s not going to shatter us.”
(On resolving roster questions this close to the start of the season…) “There’s probably been a few more loose ends in preseason than in the past preseasons, where there are more things in discussion and are being percolated and thought about as to what we’re going to do—like the Shalrie addition here that came along later down the line and to what is happening with Christian, etc. We’re still looking, as well, for a player. Do we have a center back yet? All those things. So there are a few more loose ends that way, but in regards to how that affects the players, I don’t think that affects them in any way because we’re working every day to be better. We’re working every day to be good team, a cohesive unit, and I think if you saw the group that stepped out there and played those last 30 minutes against New York—albeit it was their reserve team—it was some pretty good soccer on the field. The ball movement was pretty good, so the guys are still focused. I think we’re going to be better as we move along in the season than we’re going to be in that first two-three weeks, but that’s something that happens all the time. Maybe because of some of the loose ends, it’s going to be a little more—not really disjointed, but the guys are little more unfamiliar with each other. But I have faith and confidence in their abilities as soccer players to work with each other pretty quickly.”
(On if he expects to start the season with Djimi Traore…) “Yeah, I think we’re close on that. Definitely…Hopefully there will be something early next week that we have, but I feel pretty positive about that one.”
(On the team’s attitude going into Champions League…) “I think it’s very high on their list [of priorities]. Last night was the first night we really talked about, ‘Hey, we’re nine days away from opening day and we’re basically 13 days from playing in the Champions League.’ We don’t want to dwell on that too soon. We don’t want to spend too much nervous energy thinking about that and preparing for that, but I know the team wants to do well. They remember what happened last year with Santos—they don’t want a repeat of that. I think we’re going to play a good game down in Monterrey. I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat, which we’ve got to be down there, and get a good result. Then we’ll come back to Seattle and take what we need to advance ourselves. We’ve been pretty good about trying to go further every time we’re in a competition, and we want to go further in this one.”
(On if he would try more forward pairings if he had more preseason games…) “We’re getting enough looks at them. Sometimes you have more games, but some of the games we’ve had in past preseasons—two of them against college teams, etc.—we really haven’t played any college teams this preseason. We’ve only played MLS teams, so everything has been a legitimate test in that regard. Some of the combinations we’ve obviously seen within inters-quad scrimmages, as well. When we play against ourselves we see some of those combinations. Also those guys have been here now, so we’ve seen those combinations in past seasons also.”