This was not a particularly newsy day for Sounders FC, but here's some of what coach Sigi Schmid has to say as the Saturday match at Vancouver draws nearer:
On the impacts of having a team at close to full health) "When you see all your teammates out there and everybody's out there competing, it raises the level of competition in training. Players definitely realize, 'Wait a second, I worked a little harder, I want to either be in the 11 or in the 18.' But it's also good to have all our possibilities at our disposal. To be able to have Eddie Johnson up front with his speed, which presents a different dynamic, although Sammy [Ochoa] has played very well. To have Mauro [Rosales'] creativity on the flank takes a little bit of the burden off of [Christian] Tiffert, as well. That just makes us, I think, overall a more well-rounded team and a more dangerous team." On Vancouver's play the second half of the season) "They made some changes at the time of the transfer window, just like we did. Their changes haven't turned out as well for them as I'm sure they would have liked. It's a team that's in a position to make the playoffs and they want to maintain that. They've come a long way from last year. Martin Rennie's had to rebuild that group and he's done a good job rebuilding it and they continue to tinker with it and build it and try and make it into more what they want and what they see. It's a long season. You go through streaks in a season, and they're in a streak right now that they probably want to get out of as soon as possible. They're definitely a much improved team over last year and a dangerous team because they're fighting for their playoff lives right now." On their defense against Vancouver in the second matchup this season) "I think we did a better job of cutting off service to their speed guys up front. We contained Darren Mattocks' speed. It doesn't matter how fast he is if he can't get service, then his speed becomes less of an issue...[Dane] Richards isn't going to play against us because of yellow cards, but you have Mattocks, you have Camilo up front, Kenny Miller has decent speed, so you have guys up front with decent speed, so you have to make sure you cut the service. You also need to make sure that if you don't cut the service that you're honest back there defensively. We tried a little bit to play a little bit of offside in Vancouver, and that gave us some issues, as well." On Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks) "His speed presents problems to you because he's probably, if not the fastest guy in the league, one of the fastest guys in the league. His willingness to make runs in behind the defense is always there. The timing is sometimes off, but the timing is sometimes very good...If he makes a run, a couple things happen: If the ball is there on time maybe he gets called offside. If the ball is there on time and he's offside, but the referee doesn't call it, then he's in. And if the ball is there on time and his run is on time, then he's there, as well. Two of those three things are very dangerous. You can't rely on the referee and you have to make sure that you have an awareness of when he's going and his timing and how much space behind. It takes awareness from your goalkeeper-he's got to read it and be off the line-and it puts pressure on your defense because a lot of times guys are checking back, looking to hold the ball and bring others into play. It changes your offense because it becomes a little more hit and miss. It becomes either we're in or the other team has the ball. That's the way they feel comfortable playing right now, and he's a player that definitely presents a threat." On Vancouver's added incentive of playing for a playoff spot) "Well, we've got the Cascadia Cup. We know these next two games are for the Cup. We want that to stay with our fans. That's where it belongs, so we want it to stay there. For us, as well, we still have the goal of finishing in second place, and that's still our goal and that's still where we want to finish."