Three-time defending champion Seattle has outscored its first two Open Cup opponents 10-1 this season, following last week's 5-1 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks with a 5-0 win over Cal FC tonight.
Here's some of what coach Sigi Schmid had to say after the latest win:
Opening statement...) "The Open Cup the last two weeks has been good for us because we had a bit of a struggle and it's allowed us now to rest some people, get some people's legs back under them and give a chance for some other people to step out and play, and obviously the confidence of the team when you score goals always improves."
On scoring several goals in succession after the converted penalty kick...) "Yeah, we had to make some adjustments at halftime because they really played a 3-5-2 and they played with a sweeper. What happened in the first half is I thought our forwards were coming too deep and as a result of that - it's complicated talk - but everything is about angles, so in the second half we really talked about one center-forward staying high on their sweeper and the other forward staying in connection to him, but playing another 20 yards up the field and then that changes the angles when we play the balls out to the wide guys. So obviously the penalty helped us get back. I think, obviously, [Fredy] Montero's goal was an example of [Cordell] Cato getting in on the outside off a combination from [Sammy] Ochoa. We talked about our wide guys getting to the end-line more and not hitting so many early crosses. As we started to do that then it opened up for us."
On his attitude at halftime...) "It's just we felt that we needed to be calm a little bit and we felt we needed to change our tactics a little bit. We were trying to force things down the middle - [Cordell] Cato was coming inside too much, I thought, on the right and he was taking away his own space. [Alex] Caskey was doing the same a little bit on the left and as I said very rarely do we get into the last 15 yards of the field and hit crosses. We were hitting early crosses, coming from [Marc] Burch, or from Zach Scott and when they played three, four, five guys standing in the middle of the back it becomes easy for them. So once we changed that...there was no need to be angry - it's not like the effort wasn't there. The effort was there. We just needed to change our tactics a little bit."
On if Cal FC surprised him with their play style...) "It surprised me that they played with three in the back and with a sweeper. That was a little bit surprising because there's no MLS team that plays that way. That's the way I played in 2002 when I won the championship with the [Los Angeles] Galaxy. They're a good team technique-wise. If you give them time and space they move the ball around well. I thought Ozzie [Osvaldo Alonso] for me was our man of the match, not only because of his ability to score, but he also did a good job of shutting down Danny Barrera. He's the kind of player where if you give him some time on the ball he's going to cause you some problems. I think he [Alonso] negated that early on, so Barrera had to drop deeper and deeper to look for the ball and that made the game a little easier for us."
On if he heard the 'This ain't Portland' chants coming from the Sounders crowd tonight...) "Yeah, we heard that for sure. We were sitting on the bench with about 10 minutes to go and I said to Brian [Schmetzer], 'I should probably just sit down and enjoy the last 10 minutes.'"
On if he talked to Cal FC coach Eric Wynalda afterwards...) "Yeah, we talked. I think he's done a good job. There's two things that are very important to coaching I think. One is identifying players and obviously that's something that he's done. He's identified players who are non-MLS players, but have talent, and he's identified that. Then the second thing is as a coach you've got to then get those guys where you've got to give them confidence. So then you get those guys and you give them confidence and then they play better and you take a player, again, like Danny Barrera when he can play a free role like he plays on their team he's very dangerous. The problem for him as MLS goes is that's a role that a guy like [Fredy] Montero plays, you know, guys that DP's [designated players], so it's hard sometimes to break in to that position. But he's done a great job identifying players and he's given them confidence and as a result has played some good soccer."
On having a team like Cal FC in the tournament) "I think it's great for the tournament. But as we told our guys before the game, 'The TV's aren't here for you. They're here for them. So we need to show them that we have a team, too, and that we can play soccer as well.' I think in the second half that's what we showed. I think that's what this tournament is all about. This is what has made this such an incredible, phenomenal sensation in England. I think the more you can enhance it, the more you can showcase it the more it becomes something that people are excited about."