Last week, we got a chance to ask Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid about his thoughts on the USA's 3 p.m. Sunday match against Portugal:
"Obviously they’re going to play a team that’s desperate," he said. "Portugal, they’ve got no points and they’ve got a bad goal differential. So for them three points is important. A tie might not be enough for them to put them in a position to get there easily. I think Portugal is really going to go after it. That makes the game, maybe not from the opening whistle, but it definitely will open up the game at some point, whether that’s 30 minutes in, 25 minutes in or second half – it’s going to end up being an open game at some point.
On Portugal injuries and red cards: They’re going to have to make some changes, but obviously when you have a national team you should have some quality players in reserve. It just means other people have to step up, it gives other people an opportunity to shine. The big thing for Portugal is the health of Ronaldo. How healthy is he, can he carry the team on his back. I think Moutinho's play is also very important to them because he’s a very important player to their team.
After Sounders training this morning, we asked him about German's 2-2 draw with Ghana on Saturday:
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"I thought the second half was hugely entertaining," he said. "It was a good game. It was good end-to-end stuff. I think the loss of Boateng for Germany hurt them. I think Musafi played a hand in that first goal they took and also kept the guy onside on the second goal. So it wasn’t a good game for him. Are they going to look maybe at Phillip Lahm going back to outside back if Boateng is out for a while? That will be interesting. But Ghana was back against the wall 1-0, they fought back, put themselves back in the game. But Germany is always known for their ability to fight back. I thought I thought Schweinsteiger came off the bench and played really well.
We also asked about the Sounders' U.S. Open Cup match against San Jose on Tuesday.
"I expect them to come out with pretty much a first-team lineup," Schmid said of the Quakes. "They’ve obviously been off. They played Sacramento earlier. He gave his team some time off, I’m sure. Now they’ve been back in training, so guys who had some little knocks and pains – like an Allan Gordon – they should all be healthy. So I expect pretty much a first-team effort for them because the league hasn’t gone as well as they would have liked so far – where they’re at and their position – so the Open Cup becomes a source of pride, I think, if a team’s not doing as well they put a little more stock into that."
On the benefit of the Sounders' opening Open Cup last Thursday with a 5-0 win over amateur PSA Elite: We had our break and then we had a game to get back into our rhythm. This is now our second game for some of the guys, first games for some of the guys that we’re going to play on Tuesday night. It’s good that we’re back into the rhythm of training. … I think always your first game back after a layoff is always a little bit rusty, a little missed timing and things like that. And for us it was good because we had the advantage of playing an opponent that maybe was not of the quality of some of the other opponents that we might have played in that round, so that was a plus for us.
On Osvaldo Alonso, who hadn't been at 100 percent before the break: He’s good. He feels really good. He’s been training really hard. His training numbers are where they were in preseason, so that gives us a good indication that he’s fully back in terms of being able to train hard and all that stuff. Now it’s just a matter of getting back into the game and hopefully he can avoid any aches and pains, but he feels really good right now.
On how much the return to MLS play Saturday will figure into his Tuesday lineup: We’ve got Wednesday, Thursday, Friday before we play Saturday. So there’s three full days. When guys have that amount of time usually they recover OK. Bigger concern for us sometimes is just the field. Starfire Stadium is a great place to watch a game – it’s intimate, it’s exciting and all that stuff – but the surface isn’t in the best of shapes, so it’s really hard on them physically. So there might be still a couple of guys that we’re going to hold off that field because we don’t want things to happen, or it’s really hard on your body. We’ve got to allow our guys to recover after that, so Wednesday will be pretty light, Thursday is a travel day. But hopefully by the time we step on the field Saturday they’ll be OK.