Sounders FC has completed its brief return to Puget Sound and will leave tomorrow for more the next phase of training in Florida.
For better or worse, I left a little ahead of them, traveling to Arizona to cover UW basketball. However, here are some Sigi Schmid quotes from today, provided by the club:
On signing Osvaldo Alonso through 2014) “I think Ozzie is probably one of the more underrated players in our league. When I look at the, for example, Soccer America rankings of defensive midfielders it’s a little bit surprising who some people hold ahead of Ozzie. I think anybody who watches his game day in and day out you really appreciate what he can do. A lot of fans in the country I guess don’t have that opportunity.”
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On goals while training in Florida) “To get a little warmer, that’s the first part of the plan. Obviously four games it’s more of a game phase, more of a playing phase. Fitness is always a part of the component in preseason but now the fitness is a lot more about just getting fitness in games and playing and starting to put together our game, getting the right defensive pressure at training results in the ability to move the ball offensively and that helps our offense. It all goes hand in hand. It’s just a matter of now getting us playing, moving the ball and pressuring at the right times and working as a collective.”
On the first unit) “It’s not a concern. There were a lot of guys who were pretty thrashed in terms of physically being thrashed. It used to be when I first came into the league they always had a preseason down in Florida and you had all the teams down there and whoever won that preseason tournament always got thrashed in the league. When you look at spring training in baseball you look at the teams who have the best spring training record and a lot of times they do terrible and the guys who are at the bottom in spring training end up winning the pennant. It’s the same thing in soccer. It doesn’t matter what we do right now. The results that matter begin on March 15.”
On breakout players in 2011) “I think we’ve got a few guys in that category. I think obviously Alvaro [Fernandez] being here is a candidate for that. I think Erik Friberg is another guy who is going to surprise some people. I think people are going to see the value Brad Evans brings to this team. He along with Jhon Kennedy [Hurtado] maybe have a chance at comeback player of the year when you look at the time they’ve missed. I think we’ve got a few candidates in that realm of players that can surprise some people.”
On Sounders FC health) “Everybody is making good progress. Our training staff, Dave Tenney has done a good job in terms of the fitness work we have given the guys and also in terms of injury prevention. [Pat] Noonan is back out there full out. Taylor Graham is out there full out. [Nate] Jaqua we are hoping gets cleared this afternoon. He’s just got to go through a series of tests which the doctor wants him to do which we think he’ll pass easily and then he’ll get cleared to be a neutral player, to do all those things as well. So everybody is making good progress.”