Friday, March 20, 2009
Schmid, Sounders record first win for franchise
Seattle Sounders FC got their inaugural campaign off to a smashing start with a thorough 3-0 thrashing of the New York Red Bulls at a sold-out Qwest Field in First Kick 2009.
32,523 fans packed Qwest Field to capacity to watch Fredy Montero pace the Seattle attack with two goals to lead Seattle's attack. The 21-year-old Montero, who was signed on loan from Colombian club Deportivo Cali, showed why he has led the Colombian first division in scoring for two consecutive seasons by controlling the game from his striker position.
Montero scored his first goal in the 12th minute, and after Brad Evans got played in by Montero in the 25th, Seattle was off and running.
"After that it was a mountain to climb," said New York coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. "We couldn't really get any good efforts on shots on goal."
Meanwhile, New York's offense failed to gain any traction. With the exception of two free kicks from just outside the area, Seattle's defense did well to limit New York's chances in the first half.
In the 75th minute, Montero sealed the outcome with a superb piece of individual skill. After picking Mike Petke's pocket 40 yards from goal, he headed towards New York goalkeeper Danny Cepero, and coolly finished the breakaway with a high shot to the 'keeper's near post.
It was a great opening match for Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid, who was full of praise for his Columbian sniper.
"Fredy was a marked man going into this game. Certainly Juan Carlos Osorio knew who he was and I'm sure he primed his defenders and primed his defenders," Schmid said. "At the end of the day, a good player's qualities are going to show through."
Good coaches find ways to exploit their opposition, and it certainly appeared that New York played right into what Schmid and Seattle wanted to do.
"We wanted to play the ball and get the ball in behind them and try to stretch them early," said Schmid. "I thought they probably had more possession than we did at times and were able to move the ball a little bit better. But I thought we were dangerous off the counter. And we were dangerous off turnovers. As our cohesion and continuity and passing ... gets better we'll be able to maintain more possession. I thought Sanna Nyassi caused a lot of problems for them in first half. Got behind them, that was definitely a thing that bothered them. Sebastian on the other side couldn't get forward quite as much cause he was helping quite a lot with Richards. But he also found opportunities to go forwards. But I thought we were dangerous, definitely."
Momentum changes quite frequently during the course of a match, and Schmid had a good gauge about what to expect - both from his team, and in regards to what it takes to be a successful team in general.
"Any time we can score three goals and not give the other ones any, I'm very happy with that," said Schmid. "As I said, I've been coaching too long to say this was an artistically beautiful performance or we dominated the game. At the same token, it's something that's going to get better. I always say the game of soccer is real simple in my mind. It's a turnover sport. It's how quickly do you react to turnovers. Teams that react to turnovers and adjust the quickest, offense to defense, defense to offense, are the best teams. The other thing that happens in soccer is every team has a period where they dominate the game. And you got to make sure you don't give up goals when they dominate, which we did when New York was dominating those 20 minutes in the second half we did a good job of not giving goals and we have to score goals when we dominate and we were able to score goals in the first 20 minutes of the game, first 25 when we dominated. That's what game of soccer is all about. We'll play better and better soccer.
Schmid was also quick to praise the supporters for the environment they created, but was pretty grounded about the result.
"It was everything you dreamed of. We talked about it before the game with the team," Schmid said. "We said what an incredible feeling it's going to be when you walk in this locker room at the end of the game with your first win in Sounders history. And they all had that feeling."
"Was it the best game? No, I think we'll play better. We'll get our understanding down even better. I thought we did some things very well and some things we still (have) to work on."
The atmosphere created at Qwest Field is what every coach asks for, offering a genuine home field advantage.
"We want to make this a fortress and today was the first step in that direction," said Schmid. "This is going to be a place in MLS where teams are going to have to think twice about coming in here to play. It has atmosphere, it's loud, I told Brad Evans after game we have to start working on hand signals because 'I can't hear a thing you're saying, coach.' I've never had a player say that to me in any MLS stadium. From that standpoint, it certainly shows crowd was definite factor. Uniqueness of soccer is there's a connectivity and interaction between crowd and players, and I think you felt that today."
It's always nice to get your season opener out of the way, and after shaking off the butterflies, Schmid sees his team settling in and getting used to the expectations placed on them.
"I have a sigh or relief every time I win a game," said Schmid. "Certainly nerves went into it. As we warmed up today, some 5-v-5, I told the guys butterflies are normal. If you don't feel them, you're not alive. Getting it behind us, getting first game, everything that was surrounding, everyone can now settle in and it becomes part of the regular work ethic we have to do. Certainly sigh of relief, but also a huge smile in terms of what happened tonight."
Schmid has been a class act wherever he has been, from the collegiate level with UCLA, to the professional level with Los Angeles, Columbus and now in Seattle. He has won championships at each of those stops, and after last night, all signs point to a similar direction for Sigi in Seattle.
Posted by Mike Jacobs at 9:06 AM