In what was primarily a closed practice with availability late in the last of drills the topics concerned Brian Mullan's 10-match suspension, O'Brian White's blood clot surgery and the likely start of Nate Jaqua with other lineup changes. Those lineup changes will continue to be the theme heading into the game against Toronto FC for while the Seattle Sounders have the injuries and centerback shuffle, the Reds had a game just Wednesday night with 7 regulars (though Tony Tchani is out for the match Saturday).
Sigi Schmid was asked about the likelihood of Nate Jaqua returning to the Forward pairing that served the Sounders well in 2009 with he and Fredy Montero.
Nate's been working hard. I don't know if his fitness is there for 90. He can certainly come in for certain games play some. He's the one that is the choice, but Fucito's healthy now and that gives us another option. Lamar Neagle is a guy we signed who can play up in that position as well. There's a couple different options.
Now that could be Sigi-speak. Coaches will always obfuscate a bit, but what we know is that the list of guys that could and should see time this weekend is starting to get long. With two starters out, and a few not 90 minutes fit (Jaqua, Mike Fucito and maybe Mauro Rosales) the coaching staff will be as challenged picking a lineup and substitution as ever before. Sigi spoke on Rosales as well;
He's doing better. You know, we're two days out of the game and he said that he felt very good in what we did today. We didn't want to push him too hard and too fast. We'll see how he comes back tomorrow and we'll move forward.
Nate Jaqua met with the media and discussed the loss of White saying "he's a good player and he's been a big part of our goals this year." Moving forward he looks at the opportunity to likely pair with Montero again and why that combination works well.
I think I hold the ball up and Fredy when he gets space he can create. He can be very, very dangerous. I think it has worked well and we haven't been able to do it too much in the last year and a half so hopefully we can come together and pick up where we left off.
Jaqua noted that the offense is certain to change without Steve Zakuani;
It definitely changes our style. I think we relied on him too much trying to have him create the game. At some point, this is where we have to come together and play more as a team and not just rely on him to really create down that side. We have to create more together. Hopefully this is something where we step up and everybody picks up the slack, come together and have a good game this weekend.
The one drill we watched was a finishing drill with crossers on either side, forward pairings and someone feeding long balls from the center. These weren't likely starting pairings as so many guys were getting practice finishing, but instead the staff continuing to try and develop repoire that was unable to be worked on in training camp as the injuries and Nkufo loss have shifted the pairings so much from that point.
Sigi's other comments after the jump, mainly on the suspension, White and Zakuani.
Sigi Schmid – Head Coach
(On O’Brian White…) "Obviously it’s good for O’Brian that they were able to identify it now before that can obviously develop into a serious life-threatening type of issue. It’s been a strange one for our team. You lose another player who has been very important. We are basically losing our top two scorers so far as we are into the season but we have to move on. We’ve got players who are professional players who are ready to play and take their spot."
(On Brian Mullan’s suspension…) "Obviously the league stated early on through Commissioner Garber that they wanted to be strong in these areas and allow players the opportunity to play. I know nobody feels worse than Brian Mullan about this incident because I know Brian as a person. It was an unfortunate situation in that regard but I think the suspension is probably appropriate based upon what the league stated as their commitment at the beginning of the season."
(On when White can return…) "That’s really open-ended. I think they’ve really got to make a determination and figure out what exactly caused the clot and until they can do that what usually happens is people are on blood-thinning medication and while you’re on blood-thinning medication you can’t be in a contact sport."
(On Saturday’s match against Toronto FC…) "It will be nice to play in front of our fans. We have missed our fans and it will be nice to have that chance for a little bit of time so we are looking forward to that. You want to move on so going out and playing a game helps you sort of move on. It was difficult. I don’t think people truly realize how difficult that game was [last Friday]. Everyone thought you’re a man up so you should’ve just steam rolled them but you’re trying to get over that emotional shock and playing a man up is not always the best thing. Now for us we have got to deal with O’Brian as well so getting into a game is something that we will look forward to because it allows us to put all those things behind you and move forward."
(On if Steve Zakuani will be in stadium on Saturday…) "I don’t know for sure. Right now it’s 50/50 and it’s maybe more towards him not being here because, again, we don’t want to do anything to slow down his healing process. As anybody knows, when you have an injury or something like this the first week to two weeks is most important. If you really do a good job in the first week to two weeks then you’ve laid a really good foundation for healing and you can move forward from there."