Sounders Insider

Sounders coach reacts to Open Cup win

Here's some of what Sigi Schmid had to say tonight after Seattle's 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over the Chicago Fire before a competition-record crowd of 35,615 at CenturyLink Field:

“Obviously we’re very pleased to win three [U.S. Open Cup championships] in a row. It was a hard fought game. I thought Chicago played very well. Their players were giving everything they had and committed themselves totally to the game. We were a little unlucky with a couple off the post – Fredy Montero’s in the first half, [Mike] Fucito’s in the second. I thought we were more dangerous on chances. I think we pretty much for the most part limited them on chances, although they had some good possession in midfield. I just can’t say enough about the guys over there. To win three in a row is something very special and very unique. It hasn’t been done in a long time. Like we said, every time we enter a competition we want to win it, so we’ll enter it next year and we’ll want to win it next year as well.”

On how hard it is to win the tournament three years in a row…) “It’s tough, it’s tough. You need a little bit of luck, you need some breaks to go your way along the way. We had some games when you look at the string of games and the series of games and you look at the penalty kicks in Portland the one year and you look at the overtime goal that we got the one year up here at Starfire [Sports Stadium]. So you need a break or two along the way, but that’s what you’re looking for and then a good team can take that break and be able to use it.”

On if the prize to winning the U.S. Open Cup is entry into the Champions League play-in next year…) “Yeah, it’s entry into the play-in, but we’d like to do a little more than just play-in. So that means we’ll have to do a little more in the MLS playoffs this year.”

On if he changed anything at halftime that resulted in Sounders FC generating more shots on goal…) “No. All we talked about at halftime is that we felt that they were holding a high line, so that we felt we could get in behind their defense. We could look to play a little more direct at times. At times I thought we were a little too direct, but we felt that we wanted [Mike] Fucito, and even Lamar [Neagle] – because they both have good pace – to check and go a little bit more and to try and get them play in behind the defense, so that was important to us. The other thing we talked about was simply not to get countered on because they’re a team when we had a corner or a free kick they tried to come out very quickly and tried to counter on us. But tactically we had to bring on Erik Friberg for Alvaro Fernandez because he had a slight concussion – that’s what the doctor told us, so we had to pull him off at halftime. That changes us a little bit too because then we wanted [Brad] Evans and Friberg to interchange a little bit more. Erik plays it more as a midfielder than a winger, so that allowed Lamar to push on a little bit more as well.”

On defending Chicago’s attack…) “Well, I think we did a lot of little things. We talked about making sure that their defenders, and primarily Pavel Pardo didn’t have a chance to lift his head and hit those long balls in behind. I thought [Brad] Evans did a really good job. Sometimes we were stretched in midfield, but I thought he [Evans] did a really good job of stepping up to Pavel. I think when you look at the 90 minutes it was a rare occasion that he was able to hit a ball behind our defense, he was able to go back and square. With Fredy [Montero] and [Mike] Fucito we wanted the same from them and I thought they did a great job of that. And then we said if there’s no pressure let’s make sure we drop off and I thought [Jeff] Parke and [Jhon Kennedy] Hurtado of getting that head start as they defended. They didn’t wait for the ball to get hit, they saw that, ‘Hey, there’s no pressure’, so they started running and advancing the pass. So I thought we limited the space behind us. I think maybe only three occasions in the whole 90 minutes where they were looking like they were dangerous getting behind us.”

On how they have been so successful playing in multiple competitions with lots of travel…) “Well, it’s tremendous. Our depth has been good all year and different guys have stepped up and contributed at different times. That’s just a reflection of our team. We have a lot of stars on this team, but the start of the team is the team. They know that, ‘OK, today it’s Fredy’s turn to score’ and the next day it’s going to be Flaco’s [Alvaro Fernandez] turn to score, and the next day it’s going to be Lamar Neagle’s turn to score, and different people…and Kasey [Keller] chips in a save here and there and everything works out. But I think our depth and being able to balance so many competitions is a tribute to what the club has been able to build up over three years and the improvement of players in that three year period of time.”

On if there is a psychology involved that is different than a normal week in preparing for a Cup final…) “I mean the players, the players bring that in their makeup and in their constitution. So you talk about it and you realize the importance of the game and as we’ve gone through these series of games we’ve tried to talk about games in three or four game blocks and say, ‘This is an important game. This is what this game does.’ Maybe New England [Revolution] are not so important in our minds at that point because we have an important game here, so we’ve tried to balance all that. But at the end of the day, I can stand on my head in the locker room and spin around on a top. What’s going to motivate them is themselves inside. They get out and they motivate themselves and they get it done. There’s a lot of special people that they know who support them and I think the biggest motivation of all for me at the end of that game, as all the players are gathered on the field, is just looking up at the stands and seeing everybody still there waiting for us to get presented the trophy. Everybody else waited, except for that one little Chicago corner. But I think that’s a reflection of what we play for every day and what gets us motivated every day. The fans are superb.”