Sounders Insider

Sigi gives briefing on training, personnel

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid just completed a 20-minute conference call from Tucson.

Among the highlights, he said:

* Midfielder Mario Martinez is expected in Tucson tonight after taking some time off to tend to personal issues in Honduras.

* Christian Tiffert remains in Seattle and is expected to be away from the club for at least another week.

* Forward and center back remain positions where he hasn't yet made a decision regarding his starting 11 for the MLS-opener vs. Montreal.

* The club has discovery rights to Mikael Silvestre, who trained previously with Portland.

* Top SuperDraft picks Eriq Zavaleta and Dylan Remick will make the team. Zavaleta hasn't played in either friendly yet because he is dealing with a minor knock, and as a GA player, his roster spot is secure.

* It is unlikely the club will sign fourth keeper. They like Doug Herrick, who is in camp, but if he has a future with the club it is more likely for future seasons.

* Schmid said he'll use a mix or starters and reserves in the second Desert Diamond Cup match Saturday, then use mostly reserves in the two Cup games next week while going with something like a first 11 in the Veracruz friendly on the 22nd.

Here's some of the transcript:

SCHMIDOn the chippy friendly with New England: Sometimes games go that way. I’ve said to guys before, games take on their own personality. There was an early tackle in the game from A.J. Soares where he kind of came through Mauro Rosales at midfield there, and that was a little bit of a harsh tackle. Mauro was on the ground for a little bit of time -- luckily Mauro wasn’t hurt – and I think the game carried on from there. It’s just one of those games, that’s the way it went. That’s certainly not something we want to have happen that way. We took Ozzie off the field at the point after his tackle. And obviously the last hard tackle of the game was Nyassi’s.

On the Silvestre with Sounders after time with Portland: That’s something that we worked out. We have the discovery on him, but they had brought him in, so we felt that since he was here let’s make sure that we get a look at him as well. They really didn’t talk to us before they had decided to bring him in, and in deference to the player we didn’t want to cause an issue with his trail with them. But we wanted to have a look at him, so we saw him in that game with them and were able to have him in to train with us as well and to play in the game with us.

Personnel options for Saturday DDC match with RSL and beyond: It’s probably going to be a little bit of a mix for us Saturday. We tried to push our starters for 60 minutes of so in the game on Wednesday. We’ll try to get them probably another 45 on Saturday and then hold them until we play the Veracruz game on Friday (22nd). So the reserves will play the second half. The reserves will play the majority of the minutes the following Wednesday and then the following Saturday as well.

On Mario Martinez: Martinez should be here today. He had some things that he had to take care of in Honduras before he came up. He’s been able to take care of those, and he’s on a plane: He’ll be in tonight.

On Christian Tiffert: Tiffert stayed behind. He’s working out of Starfire and making progress. … Right now our expectation is it’s not going to happen this week. Maybe something might be possible for next week. At this stage, I really couldn’t predict that.

On second-division Veracruz as preparation for Tigres: There’s obviously a difference between Tigres and Veracruz, and there’s a difference in quality between Tigres and some other teams in the Mexican first division. What was most important for us was to play a team that plays in the style of a Mexican team. Obviously with their schedule and their games it was not going to be feasible or possible to bring up one of the first-division teams. We were fortunate last year when we got to the game against (Jaguares de) Chiapas. That wasn’t something that was going to work out for this year, so we wanted to take the best alternative that was available to us. We felt playing Veracruz was a better option than playing a team maybe from another Central American country. We felt that was a good option.

On preparing for start of MLS and CCL The MLS game comes first for us, ahead of the Champions League game, because that’s the first game we play. We’ve got to prepare for that game first, and within that preparation we’re also preparing for the Champions League. It’s a little bit delicate in terms of are we fit enough that early in the season to have guys play 90 minutes and 90 minutes within four days of each other and be at a really high level? That’s something that we’re going to determine over the next 10 days or so. Maybe the opening game of MLS will be a little more of a mixed team that it would maybe normally have been. But we’re really preparing for both at the same time.

On David Estrada at forward opposite Johnson: David brings energy, and that energy causes problems for an opponent’s defense. It unbalances them because there’s this guy who’s very active and he’s all over the place, so it’s hard sometimes for the opponents to pick up and to mark, and sometimes he chases down even lost causes. But the other thing is he’s always in a position if we get stuck he’s somebody that we can always target a ball to who we know is going to put some pressure on an opponent and gives us a chance to get the ball out of our end of the field if we get stuck with it. I thought David did a good job. I thought he made some good runs. I thought he was active and created some space for Eddie, as well, with the work that he did.

On Estrada's defensive contributions as a forward: That’s part of what he brings. They went into a 4-4-3, so because they went into a 4-4-3, David is the forward (who) drops in a little bit and deals with their defensive midfielder who goes deep for them. David, because of his fitness level and his activity, chases more of those things down than most forwards to. He doesn’t play a different role than we ask any other forward to do in that some position, it’s just his fitness level allows him to execute it probably a little bit better.

Draft pick Kevin Durr in from Air Force: He’s on a break right now where he’s allowed to train with us now for two weeks without impacting his schooling up at the Air Force Academy. We just wanted to take a look at him. It’s a difficult situation for him – we were probably a little unfair for him because we’ve already been going for two or three weeks, and for him to catch up with the speed of play – especially coming from a team like Air Force is difficult. But he’s going out, he’s working hard every day. We haven’t really pursued the next step at this point. It’s something we’ll talk about toward the end of next week.

On trialist Djimi Traore: Obviously he’s a player that we’re looking at. He’s done well in the two games that he’s played. We’ll continue to look. I know there are talks that are in the process, but what the results of that will be I’m not sure.

On Equi Zavaleta and other draft picks: We know Eriq’s going to be on our team – he’s a Generation Adidas guy. He got a little bit of a tweak in training so we have been a little bit cautious with him; but also we wanted to take a look at other players in certain positions, and we know he’s going to be with us. I think Dylan Remick has done well also, and he’s another guy that we definitely want to keep, so again we’re looking at some other people that we want to make decisions on. So sometimes the lineups that we put out there aren’t a reflection of the current depth ranking on the team, it’s more a situation of OK we need to take a look at these guys to make a decision here because we’ve already made some decisions here. Sometimes you can’t read too much into it.

On projections of Eddie Johnson production: I don’t like to make predictions to guys. If they want to put themselves under pressure I think that’s better than me putting them under pressure. I think for Eddie, obviously last year playing with Montero, Montero draw a lot of attention as well, and Eddie helped draw some attention away from Montero. It’s still a reflection of who’s going to be his partner up there, how is that going to work at the end of the day? Does Eddie have potential at the end of the day to score 20 goals? Yes, he does. Is it going to happen? I’m not quite sure. What’s most important for us is that we score goals to win. If it’s a situation where Eddie ends up with 20 assists instead of 20 goals, I probably wouldn’t argue with that. He needs to be involved with our goal-scoring opportunities, and that’s what he did yesterday. The free kick that led to the penalty kick was a foul that was committed on him. And then he scores the other goals. So both of our goals, he had a hand in that, and that’s what I expect from Eddie every game, that he allows us to be goal dangerous and puts us into situations where we can score goals. Whether he scores, whether he sets them up, whether he’s fouled in the box, whatever the case may be really doesn’t matter.