Can you give us an injury update on Eddie Johnson?A: "Yeah, it's nothing major. He would've been in a group that was just going to do regen training today anyway. He'll be traveling with us to Cancun. Don't know how much he'll play Wednesday; we'll have to evaluate it day by day, but it's nothing that we think is too serious."
How has Johnson handled coming off a couple difficult years?A: "I think a lot of times when you look at players in their careers, sometimes there's a phase where things haven't gone as well for them. You take for example a player I know very well, he's in New England right now: Benny Feilhaber. Benny had a number of years there where he didn't play a whole lot or didn't play at the highest level when he was at Derby after he left Hamburger. Then he went to Denmark and was playing the second division. He's still a very, very capable player -- so sometimes that happens to players. Our focus and what's important for us right now is how Eddie does right now, how he performs with our team, how he fits in with our team. I think he's highly motivated. I think he still has a lot of ambitions and goals in front of him, and he's still young so he can still attain all of those."
Has he surprised at all so far?A: "No, not really. I think he maybe some of his new teammates a little bit, because Eddie's known for having speed and being fast and going at people and dribbling. But I think a lot of people would be surprised: he's got a good first touch, that he holds the ball up very well when you play into his feet, that's he technically very clean, those are things that sometimes people don't associate with Eddie as much because they just see the speed, the explosion and the 1-on-1 stuff. His technique is clean and his first touch is very good."
How much did the emergence of Christian Sivebaek and David Estrada play into this?A: "We have a little bit of depth on the flank areas. David played for us toward the end of last season against New England and he played wide. Obviously with Christian Sivebaek we've used him both on the right and the left; he wanted to see if he was comfortable on both sides. We've been happy with what he's done. On the other hand when you look at the trade as well, it's a tremendous tribute to Lamar and to Mike Fucito. One was basically an undrafted player and the other one was a player that got picked fairly low, and both those guys have made themselves valuable commodities in this league. They've worked very hard, and they grew and developed in the system in Seattle, so that was good. So unfortunately when you get something you have to give something up and that means now that the door is open for some other people. Now a David Estrada has an opportunity to get a few more minutes. A guy like Sivebaek can obviously get some minutes out there wide, as well. Cordell Cato is somebody who's going to come along -- I'm very confident in his ability. Yeah, it's a different set of names, but there are still some people who can play there."
This is the most turnover you've had in a season. What kind of challenges does that create?A: "It's not as big a challenge because there's a core that's here. So when you're starting a team the first year everybody's sort of new and you're trying to establish a core. A lot of players were in there, certainly Kasey Keller played a very vital role in that. Even guys like Nate Jaqua, Pat Noonan when he joined our team, Peter Vagenas, veteran players helped to establish the core and helped to establish the culture that I wanted to create and they we wanted to create as a club with the Sounders in regards to our work ethic and our professionalism that we wanted to display and how we wanted to approach things. But obviously those players move on for various reasons and we have a new core. There's now the Alonsos and the Monteros and the Evans' and the Hurtados and Parke, there are guys here that know what it means to be a Sounder and that know what it means to go out and train every day and to be dedicated and to be professional. Even though there's turnover and there's new players coming in -- and again, when you add guys like Gspurning and Johansson, who are just good, experienced pros -- you still have a core that's basically something for the new guys to measure up to and they know what they need to do. I don't think it's as bad as maybe it looks when you look at numbers."