Sounders Insider

Schmetzer: Sounders showed championship grit

Seattle Sounders players cheer for their fans after beating Toronto FC 2-1.
Seattle Sounders players cheer for their fans after beating Toronto FC 2-1. The Associated Press

Here’s some of what the Sounders had to say after leaping to third place in the MLS West with a 2-1 win over Toronto, the goals coming from Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey:

ASSISTANT COACH BRIAN SCHMETZER

Opening statement:

“It was pretty clear to everybody that watched the game, and even in the Portland game, the guys really put the effort in from Stefan Frei to Oba [Martins] and [Clint Dempsey], the guys that came on with Nelson, Pineda and Leo, they all worked extremely hard. Was the game the prettiest game? No. But the fact of the matter is what wins championships is grit and determination and a little bit of good defending and timely goals. We have a combination of all those things and I was really pleased with the effort the group showed tonight. For the record, that group is a tight-knit group and they are doing it for themselves. They all work hard from day one in preseason up to the last game of the season. They are a very committed group to each other, and the influx of players has raised the level. It is a good group and I can’t say enough of how proud I am of their effort tonight.”

On containing Michael Bradley:

“Michael Bradley is a tremendous player and you used the right word: we contained him in spells. They had a decent tactical formation tonight. They gave us some problems with their possession and Bradley was kind of doing his thing wherever he saw fit to fling balls, so it was a little unorthodox. We hadn’t seen that so for good portions Toronto played well and certainly Michael had a lot to do with that.”

On defensive performance:

“I’m very happy with the back four. Zach Scott is a tremendous competitor. He has been around here for a long time and I can’t say enough good things about Zach. Torres certainly is an imposing man and a big part of our group, but Zach filled those shoes very admirably tonight. [Oniel] Fisher was okay, Tyrone [Mears] was good and Chad [Marshall] was good. The problem we seem to have is we have been giving up too many set piece goals and we are going to plan on working on that next week. It’s not always the initial ball that comes in, but when it gets cleared out how do we adjust and step up, who’s marking whom. I was not happy one of their guys was wide open on the six, that wasn’t my intention or their intention either. We are going to work really hard to correct that.”

On emotions going into game as Head Coach:

“I wouldn’t say nerves. I would probably say more determination because I didn’t want the game and effort those guys put in to go to waste. I was determined to think of everything we could as a staff to figure out a way to win the game. At the end of the day, it’s just Oba and Deuce doing what they do.”

FORWARD CLINT DEMPSEY

On returning to the team and making an impact:

“It feels good to help the team out. It’s been frustrating for me to be out for as many weeks as I was, especially after missing the games I missed for the Gold Cup. So I’m happy to get back and contribute to this team. We want to do great things, so we’ve got to keep fighting and make sure we’re in a good position at the end of the year.”

On the chemistry with Martins:

“We’ve always had that pick-up style with each other, and understanding of our movements and where we want the ball. We were able to play give-and-go passes and just make stuff happen. It’s something that you can’t really teach. We just have that understanding.”

On the team’s mindset heading down the stretch:

“We’ve just got to keep fighting as a team and keep getting sharp. We didn’t get a clean sheet, but it was good that we were able to make it difficult for them. Stefan made some big saves. And for us to score goals, that’s what we need to do. If we can keep it tight in the back, keep creating chances in the attacking third and keep getting good looks in front of goal, I think we’ll always have a chance to do well.”

On how he feels physically:

“I felt OK. I still don’t feel 100 percent that I can go out there and sprint, but I wanted to be out there and be able to make an impact how I could. I felt that I could go in and make an impact, and I felt like I did tonight.”

CAPTAIN BRAD EVANS

On having Dempsey and Martins back together on the field:

“They’re high-quality players. Any time they’re on the field, you strike fear in the opponent’s eye. It also gives the guys around them confidence. That’s why they’re two of the best players in the league. We’re very fortunate to have them on our team, and we hope we can keep them healthy. Hopefully we’ll get a few more results and some momentum, and find ourselves in the playoffs.”

On playing right midfield:

“Any time you go into a new position, one thing you can control is how hard you work. Maybe things aren’t as clean as you’d like, or positioning isn’t as good as you’d like, but you can control what you do with your legs and how much you put in effort-wise. I thought I did that tonight. Some things could have been better – more service, linking up with the guys and creating a few more chances – but other than that it was fine.”

On having three straight MLS road matches coming up:

“It’s a tough task. We’ve got to know that we’re still fighting for our lives here. Any result could send us skyrocketing or we could find ourselves below the red line, so that’s the reality of being in a tight conference. Knowing the situations of other teams, we’ve still got to pick up our points.”

MIDFIELDER OSVALDO ALONSO

On returning to the starting XI:

“I’m happy. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the starting lineup, so I’m very happy to be back and that we got the three points. I look forward to getting three more points in San Jose.”

On responding to Toronto’s goal:

“We talked about it before the game: ‘We have to get three points, and it doesn’t matter how. At the end of the day, we have to walk away with the three points.’ And we did it. I’m happy for the team and for the players who gave everything they had.”

On his yellow card:

“It is what it is. The ref made the decision, and I have to keep quiet and keep going. It’s part of soccer. I have to look forward now.”

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