Q13 Sports Director Aaron Levine hit Seattle Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam with a potentially awkward question in a televised interview Sunday, asking him (roughly): ‘Some fans think your coach or GM should be fired, what do you think?’
The level-headed Dutch defender was unfazed, immediately launching into a defense of Brian Schmetzer and his teammates.
“Me as a player, I’m always on the side of the coaches, the GM. Because I work every day with them. I work with my teammates. I know what effort the coach is putting in, he’s an honest guy, he’s always honest to me. Yesterday, he put me on the spot, like, ‘Kelvin, I need more [from] you’. That’s how he is, he’s going to confront you in front of everybody, and I like that he’s doing that, because he’s working his ass off like everybody else.”
Not that Leerdam is giving the Sounders a pass on their current form, but he's prepared to take the blame (he says his “personal error” led to Sebastian Saucedo’s 61st-minute strike Saturday), along with his teammates.
“The players, we should do better, we’ve lost a few games this month. And like [Schmetzer] said, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror, and be honest with ourselves. And I’m honest with myself. I know that I could do better than what I’ve shown the last couple of games, and I’m working hard to get everybody, and myself, in the right direction.”
Leerdam is relying on his similar experiences with Eredivisie clubs Feyenoord and Vitesse to find a way through this serious rough patch. He even spoke with a former coach about it recently.
“They keep reminding me, ‘try to do the same things you always do, go back to the basics, then everything will be fine.’ If we follow what Brian says, and what Gonzo [Pineda] says and what Djimi Traore says, everything will be fine. And I hope the fans will keep confidence in us, because we’ll fight ‘til the end. And we’ve only had one third of the season, so we still have time to turn it around, but we need to do it quickly.”
The Sounders right back says the key is creating more chances for whoever is positioned close to goal — “Clint, Magnus, Handwalla, it doesn’t matter who plays” — and that it starts from the back. Leerdam says he’s happy to contribute to the attack with runs and crosses as much as he can, as he was asked to do Saturday as the match wore on.
The team is more injury-depleted with every match, and frankly will need to rely on excellent performances from reserve-level players in order to keep them in striking distance of the postseason. Getting a result in the upcoming rematch with Real Salt Lake would certainly ease some nerves, but Leerdam says the time for easing nerves is this week before the game.
“I think we need to try to relieve some pressure on ourselves. I’m confident in myself, I’m confident in the rest of the team, I’m confident in the coaching staff, because they’re trying everything they can do to put us in the best position to win games. We need to gain confidence as quickly as possible.”