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Schmid praises "dangerous" Sounders against San Jose

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The Sounders coach singled out midfielder Erik Friberg's passing ability as key to team's victory

Between travel for this weekend's match against FC Dallas and an event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday, the Seattle Sounders had a light day at Starfire on Tuesday mostly composed of small games of soccer tennis, shooting practice, and other casual training activities. Head coach Sigi Schmid said that "normally Monday is a regen day for us and Tuesday is off, so today we sort of left it up the players, except the guys who didn't play that much this weekend had to do a little bit more." The team spent a chunk of the morning viewing film of Saturday's 2-0 win over San Jose, and some players even did yoga in the afternoon; Schmid said that he wanted the team "to enjoy ourselves" before Wednesday's normal session, the last before the team travels to Dallas.

Schmid said that he and the team were pleased with what they saw in the film session, and praised his players especially for Clint Dempsey's opening goal, which he called "a really good team goal." Both Jordan Morris and Erik Friberg were credited with an assist for the goal, but Schmid stressed that he was pleased with the whole team leading up to that goal. "The play, before it even got wide to [Aaron] Kovar it was already a good buildup and sequence, and the ball pops out and Kovar does a really good job of holding off a guy that's probably twice his size and connects the pass, and we connect the next two, and then Friberg has the vision that finds Dempsey and it's a good first time finish."

Rather than focus on the "what ifs" of the match--like Chris Wondolowski's fluffed chance on goal and later penalty miss--Schmid stressed that he was very pleased with his team and that he "thought that we had some really, really good moments." The Sounders had a number of aesthetically pleasing passing sequences, something fans haven't seen from the team much at all this season. Schmid noted this too: "I thought our ball movement was pretty good, as good as it's been all season at times, we're playing to the lines much better than we have been, and a result we were more dangerous." The more the team finds themselves in those positions to be dangerous, the more quality chances on goal they'll get. And with two strikers starting to find chemistry and rhythm, fans have plenty to be optimistic about as the season rolls on.

Erik Friberg is a name on everybody's lips following his sensational performance against San Jose, and Sigi Schmid admitted that the team was not nearly as good creatively without him. "One of the qualities that [Friberg] has is the ability to see those passes, and certainly the time he was injured we obviously missed that. Everybody has different strengths and different qualities, and that's certainly one of his qualities." It's interesting, because many have lamented the team's lack of creativity on the pitch when Andreas Ivanschitz is out, but Friberg looked far better and more versatile in that role than Ivanschitz has for most of the season. Schmid mentioned that the team did well to transition from defending to counterattacking very well, especially in a chance in the second half "where Friberg slipped the ball through to Morris and Morris hit the shot at the goalkeeper." After closing down the attacker, Schmid praised Friberg and Aaron Kovar for their quick counterattacking that led to the shot. "Good defending leads to good attacking. It's a team game, if the defense doesn't do their part and we don't win the ball back, we don't have a chance to pass it. When we win it, we gotta pass it."

Even Clint Dempsey's performance, likely his best all season, was buoyed by a healthy and in-form Friberg, according to Schmid. "[Dempsey] had a very good game against San Jose, because they play more of a 4-4-2 he was able to play a bit higher. He found the space in front of their back line, and some of that credit goes to Friberg." Fans had been pleased with Cristian Roldan's performance in Friberg's absence, but the inclusion of Dempsey as a midfielder meant Roldan was the odd man out against San Jose. Schmid said that this isn't a permanent change, that if he has to choose between the two players, "we'll see, we'll go week by week and look at it a little bit, depends on us. Some of it depends on the opponent and what creates the best matchups for us."

A curious note from Schmid regarding the inclusion of Nelson Haedo Valdez on the bench instead of the starting XI against San Jose: "it was just a decision where we felt that this was the lineup we wanted to go with." Schmid said that Valdez was and is completely healthy, so the decision was based solely on how the coaching staff wanted the team to line up. It should be noted that in seven appearances this season (three as a substitute), Valdez has zero goals, zero assists, and has created just one chance for Seattle.