Loyal readers likely know this, but one of the highlights for the match was when Mike Fucito took the pitch as a substitute for Steve Zakuani. The Sounders #2 played both up top and wide left in his limited play. He had a shot on goal blocked (possibly a hand ball) and a point where he chose to pass to Montero rather than shoot.
We talked on the phone as he recovered from playing 110 or so minutes within 24 hours. First as a sub in the Union match, and later up top in the Sounders reserve game win over Oregon State. Mike and I talked on the phone Saturday.
I started off with asking him about the amount of minutes he put on those legs over the past few days.
Mike Fucito: I'd say that I'm a little bit sore right now, but looking back its a good thing. I'm happy to have the opportunities.
Dave Clark: It was your first time in a competitive match at Qwest Field with a mere 36,000 people in the stands [Fucito was a sub in both friendlies last year] how did that feel when you got subbed on for Steve that night?
Fucito: It was awesome. I think last year for the Chelsea game when I got subbed on that was so cool, but that this game meant something. That it was the first league game, the home opener, that was something special. I just tried to take it all in and it was a really good feeling.
DC: I don't know if you know this, but Freddie Ljungberg has a blog and he mentioned you specifically in his match recap simply it was good to see Mike out there and proves that if you work hard good things will come. I'm paraphrasing there. Now I know that he and Peter Vagenas are two guys that you have gone to for advice and who have helped you learn over this preseason. Talk a little about that.
Fucito: I would just say that those two guys have been great, the two of them have so many years of experience at such a high level. Its just nice to have that on the team, and who are so willing to share their knowledge and wisdom. Especially for some one like me its huge. I can just learn so much from them. They make it so easy to approach them, and they'll even pull me aside too at times. Its so helpful, and a huge difference for me.
DC: This past off-season you went from being waived to competing for a roster spot to in the 18 and substituted in the first match. You went from 1 of 40, to 1 of 24, to 1 of 18 to 1 of 13, is there any one thing that happened over the off-season that helped you on that journey?
Fucito: I don't think its any one thing. I think that last year that it was important for me to go through that. Last year I was kind of playing catch-up in a couple of different ways. It took me a couple months to get comfortable, and I thought that I was doing well at the end of the season. And then being waived it made me have to fight and show that nothing was certain.
I kind of knew that if I worked and was able to improve on certain things that there would be an opportunity for me here. I just tried to do my best and put myself in the position to grab that opportunity.
DC: You talked about working hard there and I think about Thursday night when you played up top and out wide as Sounders offensive players switch it up quite a bit, but I saw that a lot of times you had a big towering centerback [Califf] right up on you. How did that effect your ability to receive the ball in those tight spaces and your own ball presence?
Fucito: That's something that I've been trying to work on, holding up the ball. I definitely could have done a better job of that during the game. You know its hard for someone of my size, when you have a huge centerback right on your back, its tough. That's actually a lot of the stuff that Pete and Freddie have helped me out with, not necessarily to put yourself in positions where defenders, especially big defenders, can use their size. I have a low center of gravity, anda little bit of build on me. I just need to find ways I can use those to my advantage. That's something that I'm trying to look at and get better at.
DC: ... Have you entered the season with any specific goals for yourself?
Fucito: One goal for me was coming back and making the team. I wasn't satisfied with just being on the team last year. I want to be on the 18. I want to make an impact in games and score goals. That's what I'm used to doing. I'd like to do all those things. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't score the other night. I think that was a pretty good chance. I should score that and I can score that. I want to score goals, and help the team win games.
DC: Is there an advantage to have played in that Reserve match against [Oregon State] with James Riley and David Estrada?
Fucito: You can always work on things. You can always improve on your fitness. They were actually a pretty big team and I was playing up front. One of the things I was trying to do was hold up the ball. Little things like that, every day you try to work on some thing and if worst comes to worst you work on your fitness because you can always improve on that.
DC: You have another home game coming up on Saturday against a very different New York team with something like less than a third of their players back. Its almost like facing a 2nd expansion side. Have you started thinking about that one yet?
Fucito: A little bit. I think that we are probably going to start thinking about it more on Monday. Right now I have been focused on recovering over the last couple of days and resting. Making sure that I'm fresh going into this week. We are definitely looking ahead to the next game. We want to start off the season two and oh. We were happy to get the first win under our belt but there are a lot games left and a lot of points to get. I'm excited for sure.
DC: Is there anything else that you feel bears mentioning to the fans?
Fucito: To the fans, just keep doing what you are doing. We love it. I have a lot of friends around the league that are just jealous about what we have here in Seattle with the support. Its just awesome. The fans are unbelievable.
When Mike talks about appreciating the fan, he follows up with action. I don't know if he or Roger Levesque were the last one through the tunnel but both stayed and signed autographs for quite some time.