The Sounders have completed a late-afternoon practice today at PGE Park in Portland. The main message from coach Sigi Schmid was that the Sounders are serious about defending their U.S. Open Cup title and that he actually thinks a run in Open Cup competition could help his team's efforts to climb back into playoff position in the MLS regular season.
Some highlights from Schmid:
On why it's important) It’s important because of the Open Cup. We got off to a good start here last year. But it’s also important for us because our season hasn’t gone nearly as well as we would have hoped for and we have to get some W’s.
On trying to repeat) It’s something a lot of teams take pride in. We did it last year. Every time we stepped out in an Open Cup game we were stepping out to win. We weren’t throwing games away. I think some MLS teams in the past have stepped into the competition and said, well, we’ll see, we’ll play whomever. But our intention is to play the team that’s going to give us the best shot at winning the game tomorrow, and to make sure that we’re ready because we want to defend our championship.
On if this helps or hurts MLS season efforts) I don’t think it hurts us. More games give more opportunities for players to play and right now we’ve got to find the 11 players that are going to lead this team to victory in MLS games, and it might not be the 11 that are on the field right now. So we’ve got to find the right mix, and the right mix is a mixture of ability and skill and creativity and communication and hard work and battle and fight and all of those things. We have to make sure we have all those ingredients on the field, and these games give people the opportunity say, 'Hey I can bring these qualities to the game.'