Here's some of what coach Sigi Schmid had to say after training today ... just two days before the First Kick against Los Angeles:
On MLS First Kick) “I remember when I stepped out there in year one. I had goose bumps. I was pretty amazed and everything else. Then you sort of got used to it, sad to say a little bit. Not used to it in the sense it didn’t thrill you but used to it in the sense that you expected it to happen but it still gave you a great feeling. But stepping out then in the first game in year two almost all of the emotions from the first game in year one came back because it’s the start again, it’s the beginning. I feel the same thing is going to happen on Tuesday night. Hey, here we are again. Here we go. It’s still an unbelievable story. It’s still amazing that this happens game after game.”
On what’s at stake on Tuesday) “There’s a lot at stake because obviously they are the team that knocked us out of the playoffs so we want to come out and we want to play well for that reason. We also want to play well because it is the opening game of the season. We want to play well because it’s three points. On the same token, the result on Tuesday isn’t going to define anybody’s season. It’s the first game of a long season. It’s 34 games this year, not 30. Whoever walks off the field on Tuesday night a loser their season is not over and whoever walks off the field the winner their season is not secure and done either. It’s one of those things where I think there is a lot of hype around the game and deservedly so because these are two good teams and this is going to be an electric atmosphere.”On what to expect from LA Galaxy) “We pretty much know. They are an established team. They are established players. It’s not like there’s rookies that are going to be stepping onto the field. We have a good idea of how they play as individuals. Whether they come and play a 4-4-2 or whether they play a 4-2-3-1 it really doesn’t matter that much.”
On changes to the Galaxy’s attack) “[Juan Pablo] Angel and [Edson] Buddle are both good in the air. Angel is probably technically a little bit better and stronger but athletically he is not going to run as much into the corners so it changes it a little bit. But with the addition of [Chad] Barrett, if Barrett’s the guy who plays next to him, Barrett does a lot of that stuff for him so it allows Angel to stay in the middle.”
On more urgency this season) “It’s like I said before, it’s the MLS Cup. It’s not a body of work for your whole season. The body of work for your whole season is the Supporters Shield, but people remember who wins the MLS Cup. People don’t remember who wins the Supporters Shield. When you look at the Cup winners, the Cup winners over the last two years, if my memory serves me right, they weren’t at the top of the table. A team that came together at the end of the year had a streak and won some games. What does that change in the opening game for you? Probably not that much. All that it changes is, as we’ve always said, the important thing is to get to the playoffs. If you get to the playoffs as the Supporters Shield winner, great, but if you don’t you can still reach the MLS Cup. It’s a matter of playing your best soccer at the end of the year and we want to make sure that we are fit so that we can carry it through, that we have done the right things in terms of our preparations. So if anything we have changed we have probably stepped up our fitness that we did a little bit in preseason so that we can, not glide or ease off, but so we can back off a little bit more at the right times so that we can push at the right time at the end of the year.”
On Steve Zakuani and Brad Evans) “They are doing OK. They are both making progress and we will make a determination tomorrow.”
My add: I thought that answer on the Cup vs. the Shield was especially interesting. There's no arguing that MLS Cup is the most prestigious hardware in MLS. But would I really have rathered been, say Salt Lake two seasons ago or Columbus? Hmm. In any case -- my little candle against the dark -- I no longer refer to the MLS Cup winner as the "MLS champion" but rather the "MLS Cup champion."