The Sounders went through a spirited training session at FC Dallas' training complex this morning, the final work before the clubs open their Western Conference semifinal series at 6 p.m. Sunday at Toyota Stadium.
Here's some of what coach Sigi Schmid had to say after the session:
On his team's mentality: The mentality of the group is good. They know what we have to do. We want to try and make this a special season. We’re two-thirds of the way there. Now this is a whole new season: It’s a cup, it’s not a championship, it’s a cup. And so we now have to be prepared for the cup. Our history – people always want to talk about the history – our in the cup is when we’ve played the second game at home we’ve always won, and we just have to make sure that we’re in it after the first game.
On the 3-1 loss to Dallas here in September: It was a 12-day trip, it was the day of the trip. And when you look at the game, we had more shots than they did. We had more shots on goal than they did, or that was close to even. I thought their first goal was a little bit fortunate. The second goal for them in that game was Texera’s goal, which was decdent. The third goal was when the game was over. So we don’t look at it as a 3-1 loss, per se. We look at it as the end of a long trip – we were going through a little bit of a thing there against New York and so forth, we had worked really hard, we were fatigued, and they caught us at a good time. But we’ll be ready. And they’re a good team. Their outside presents problem for everybody.
On the one-game suspension for Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz: When Diaz plays, they definitely play a 4-2-3-1. When Diaz doesn’t play, sometimes they play that way and sometimes they play more of a 4-4-2.
We just have to be prepared for a 4-4-2 as well.
On away goals as the tie-breaker: I think it’s a good thing. We wanted to have consistency to what went on in the Champions League and CONCACAF as well. I think it’s a good thing because it does reward a team if they attack on the road and they score goals on the road.
On trying for another Supporters Shield/MLS Cup double after doing that at Los Angeles and Columbus: In the playoffs you need your special players to be special. I know for us in 2002, that was Carlos Ruiz – I think he had eight goals in the playoffs or something like that. … It was Sholotto who came through when we were in Columbus together. But it’s also you’ve got to be hot at the right time, you’ve got to get a break along the way, you’ve got to have a goalkeeper who is in form, because that helps you as well. But I think this team has those ingredients. I think we have those special guys who can make that special difference and carry a guy in the playoffs, and I think we have a goalkeeper in good form. I think defensively we’ve been really solid the last two games…. We’re pleased where we’re at right now defensively. We’ve got to continue to do that, because that’s important in the playoffs as well.
On falling behind in road playoff openers: What happened to us in those years on the road is we were maybe naive or maybe too aggressive at times, when we went down we wanted to get the goal back and get the goal back, and then we dug ourselves a hole too big to come out of. Even when we went down to LA 3-0, we came back: We were up 2-0 at our place and then the handball on Johansson – the fingertip ball on Johansson, which Keane was really cleaver on. So we’ve always been able to fight back, but we’ve got to make sure that we’re smart enough that we realize, hey, if we’re down a goal, we go back 1-0 we’re OK with that.
On Dallas playing three nights ago: Hopefully there’s going to be a benefit to us in the second half. There’s supposed to be a drawback to playing in the play-in game, so hopefully that comes to benefit us because its’ their third game in eight days I think. We’ve just got to make sure we keep playing at the tempo that we want to play at, and we can take advantage of that if they do get fatigued in the second half.