The Sounders returned to Starfire this morning after three days off. The main news of the day was Tyrone Mear’s green card. (See post below.) There also wwere health updates on Brad Evans and Erik Friberg.
Otherwise, the main topic of conversation was the USA’s loss to Guatemala on Friday, which sets the stage for a crucial rematch at 4 p.m. today in Columbus (ESPN2).
Here’s some of what coach Sigi Schmid and captain Brad Evans had to say:
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On team’s return after three days off: It was all right. Everybody was able to get away a little bit. Today was just training to get back in the rhythm… not overly hard, just to let everybody get their legs back under them. It was good. The spirit was good.
On Mears’ green card: It’s good. It opens up a foreign spot for us as we move forward with our decisions. Obviously as we’re looking at players that’s an easier possibility for us.
On Brad Evans’ return from shoulder dislocation: He did all right. I know he was a little frustrated today with his game moreso than anything. It’s been a while since he’s been back into training, but he was able to get through full training. … We’ll see (about readiness for Montreal on Saturday). Today was the first heavier day for him, so a lot depends on how he feels the next day. If he feels no more sore, feels all right, then we go from there.
On Erik Friberg: Getting better. He made some progress. We wanted to step back. Whenever you come off an injury like his and deals with the MCL, it’s always a step process. Step up and then you plateau and then you step up again. He’s on the plateau right now and we’ll see how he does the rest of the week.
On return of international players: They fly back in Wednesday. Obviously they won’t be at training Wednesday, then on Thursday we’ll play it by ear. We’ve got to see how everybody does today, make sure nobody picks up any injuries, see how many minutes they play, and that will determine how what we’re going to do for the weekend.
On how worried USA should be: Let’s not be Chicken Little: ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling.’ I think we’re very quick to do that. Things are going to happen. Streaks come to an end. And so this streak with Guatemala came to an end. I think everybody saw the game, so they can draw their own conclusions. We’re a team that should qualify for the World Cup. We should get out of this group and into the hex. I think the response tonight will be good.
On how he feels: Great. Thanks for the concern. Back in practice, full. Last week was a good week. Today was another good day. …
On USA-Guatemala: Tonight is obviously a massive one. Big one.
On this kind of World Cup qualifying drama: I think there were a couple of big performances by Eddie Johnson last cycle to push the U.S. into a good position, into the hex. CONCACAF is tough. It’s a very hard region. Going away from places isn’t the same as Germany going into Holland, and staying at really nice hotels, and getting really nice pitches, and the traveling fans come and fill half the stadium. It’s a little bit tougher, I think, from my experiences. Obviously I don’t know what it’s like to play overseas day in and day out, but I’ve had a couple of national-team experiences and it’s almost easier going to Europe than it is south of the border. In saying that, tonight is obviously a massive one. The guys will be up for it.
On who might be in that Eddie Johnson role tonight: Graham Zusi popped into my head last night, so I’m hoping tha Graham gets on the pitch and does his thing and gets back in the team, because I think he’s a high-quality player that can make special things happen on the field. Hopefully he gets back on the pitch and he mades a difference.
On what a failure to qualify for World Cup would represent for USA: A tremendous failure. But I think we could talk about this one after tonight. We’ve got to win tonight. … That won’t happen, but if it did we could talk about it then.