At today's practice the number one topic was Kasey Keller. Nearly every interview of every player mentioned him it's almost as if there's a game of bigger importance than a typical regular season match this Saturday. The club is going to give the fans a massive amount of schwag, including a pretty kick ass captain's armband which the assembled media got to see today. There are now about 58,000 tickets sold (including every one for our section, though you can still get seats in other parts of 328). Before we get onto Sigi talking about here's another reminder of the Date with SaH at 4PM. Now for Sigi on Keller;
It’s phenomenal. It’s an honor for me and a privilege to have had the opportunity to coach him on this team. I’ve had the chance to work with him on a couple US National teams, select teams when he was really young, and as he got older a little bit off and on. To be able to coach him day in and day out has been a great honor for me and I think the level that he has been able to maintain in his last years here in Seattle has been great. I think it’s a tribute to his determination, his own ego to do well—I think all great players are driven by ego, although sometimes they don’t like to maybe hear that word. His determination to do well is there. I was watching him today warming up and I said to one of the assistants, ‘Can you imagine doing that for 25 years?’ Falling over like that for 25 years and getting up again and doing it every day and saying, ‘This is fun.’ To me, that’s absolutely amazing and I think it’s been great what he’s done.
While the Reserve players did light stretching a selection of recently injured players were doing individual work based on their recovery program. Steve Zakuani worked with a ball. Jeff Parke jogged and still has to pass the concussion test. Mauro Rosales wore the neutral player's top in the small sided drill. Today's drill had two different short games. The first using wide play attacking tiny goals, the other a more conventional short sided version with keepers in the net. Both Parke and Rosales will have to see their progress before knowing if they are available.
After practice James Riley was one of the last players to leave (as typical) and we talked about his ability to adapt to who plays in front of him as it has been a position of change.
Riley: I think over the years if you count it I think it's up like 15-16+ right midfielders I've played with [A quick count of just Sounders at right mid puts it at 10, he's played with more than he can keep track in his 7 year career]. You kind of adjust. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, playing with a Mauro who's played in Europe and has tremendous quality is different from playing with the other right mids. All bring strengths and weaknesses all are fine. I can adjust and adapt no problem.
Obviously you want to make a seamless transition. I try to support my right mid as much as possible and give him confidence to go forward and I'll cover him any time if he gets pushed up too high. Then I'll be there for him. It's sort of a trust issue and you develop that trust from the beginning of the pre-season and throughout training just by your work ethic and communication on and off the field.
SaH: Different pairing have you play either in short interchanges or in overlapping runs for crosses and get into the attack. How does it feel to get more into the attack?
Riley: It's good. Even to see other outside backs get chance and overlaps, it just unbalances the opponent, so that's what I want to do. Even if I make an overlapping run and it's not played, that still unbalances them and makes them shift. You want to give as many options as you can to the guy on the ball on our team in the offensive third and overlapping runs are a great way in the attacking third to get service into the box. You aren't going to score without service in the box or getting the ball in to dangerous areas so that's what we try to do.