Here's some of what Sounders coach Sigi Schmid had to say after training today, looking back on the Columbus-Monterrey-Chicago road trip, and ahead to this week's Champions League match Wednesday against Marathon and the return to league play Saturday against Toronto.
On the road trip: “I think we have to be pleased. Winning both of our league games on the road was extremely important to our playoff opportunity. It keeps the pressure on the teams behind us, for sure. And it keeps the pressure on the teams in front of us as well. I was very pleased with that. Disappointed with the Champions League because I felt we were good enough to win with Saprissa when we were 11 against 11 and we ended up having five bad minutes where we lost our way in Monterrey and ended up losing that game. We could have actually gotten more. At the end, when you draw a line under it all, I’m very pleased with our resiliency, with our ability to stay focused throughout the whole trip, with our depth, a lot of different people played, with the heart of the team. I’m very happy with that.” On the two league shutouts: “The defense is obviously playing well. When you talk defense, it’s everybody. It’s the additional defending that a Steve Zakuani does when he’s clearing headers out of your 18-yard box off corners, that’s a big plus for your team. It’s the defending that [Sanna] Nyassi does on the side as well. It’s the pressure that [Fredy] Montero gives onto defenders up front. All of those things help us defensively. [. . .] As I have said before, defending is about defending well to get the ball back and if you get the ball back then you can score goals. So it’s also not a coincidence that as we defend better we end up scoring more. So from that standpoint I have been very pleased.” On how players feel physically: “Yeah, we are OK. I mean, [Patrick] Ianni looks like Rocky Balboa a little bit. (See post below.) It was sort of funny at halftime because we wanted to make sure he got stitched up, so we were trying to make sure we got 11 players on the field for the first half. And [Jeff] Parke ran into, I think, he was pushed into Ossie’s [Osvaldo Alonso] shoulder or something. It’s the life of a center back. You end up doing that. Having broken a cheekbone, broken a nose, I understand. So it just comes with the day-to-day duty.” On scoring late goals: “We have had enough late ones scored against us early in the season with Dallas scoring late on the PK and Salt Lake scoring late up in Salt Lake when we were leading and two more away games that we possibly could have won. When you go through a whole season, it all sort of evens out. Now it’s our turn to get some late ones and not have late ones scored against us. Obviously that’s good. What I’m really proud of in the Chicago game was not only the late goal but I also think we managed the game well after that goal. We didn’t lose our heads. We took the ball to the corner. We killed some time. We said, ‘OK, we are going to walk out of here 1-0. We don’t have to walk out of here 2-0. We are going to walk out of here 1-0.’ That’s a little sign of our team maturing and recognizing more of what needs to get done at that moment.” On Seattle's faint heartbeat in CONCACAF Champions League: “Obviously for us in the Champions League the big thing is tomorrow night when Saprissa plays Monterrey. If Saprissa gets a point out of that game, then it’s over for us. But if Monterrey wins at Saprissa, then Monterrey has Marathón at home, then we can end up in a three-way tie with six points. So really a lot matters on that game.”