While I didn’t get to see much practice today, I did see some of Zach Loyd at right back in the very final stages. I also got to talk to the gaffer after the session was over and here’s what the Soccer Sinsei had to say.
I would imagine getting two red cards in 2011 after having three all of last year is something you aren't happy about?
“No. In fact, I told the players last year we had 34 games and only had one red card. I said we’ve only had three games and we already have two. So, I’m already telling them this is not the direction we want to go.
Also, it’s disjointed. The team is disjointed right now. You’ve got guys playing positions that are either new to us or they forgot the rules. This week, we’re spending a lot more time on positional play and structure. We’ve had two days of training this week. Last week, we didn’t have one because we had the travel, we were in Mexico and coming back from that one. I feel like this has been our best training. We’ll continue to get better and continue to identify the players to get it done for us.”
Did you think Ugo Ihemelu was rusty at right back against Columbus last Friday?
“Yeah and that’s natural. You look at FC Dallas and you say OK, they don’t look like the same team they were last year and I would agree. But I also think that our key players don’t look the same. You can’t expect an Ugo, who gets a sports hernia during preseason to be 100 percent once the season starts.
And you can’t expect George John, who had ankle surgery and missed the first three weeks of preseason [to be back to his old self]. He said it best to me, Coach, these games are my preseason. So, those are two key players for us.
Then you’ve got Jair that was out the first game and you’ve got now Jackson out this game. So you’ve got things that are not consistent and that’s just the defense. But I feel like there is a good level of players here. We’ll get this right.”
Do you feel more comfortable with Zach Loyd at right back than you did in preseason?
“Yeah, he’s a hard defender. He’s one of our best defenders. Where he runs into a little but of a problem is when he tries to do too much and these are things that we keep talking about.”
How has Marvin Chavez performed this season?
“Well, I think Marvin has been one of our bright spots this year. He came into preseason so sharp and of course, coming off the Honduras national team and training with them, he was so far ahead of everyone. As we continue to move on, he’s got to continue to improve each game. That can’t be his best. He’s got to continue to get better and continue to be a threat in the attack with the quality services. If you remember when we were playing our best soccer at the end of the year, he was on the field. That’s the type of performance we want from him again.”
How did you think Ruben Luna fared in his first career start vs. the Crew?
“Difficult game to play. Very cold weather and the ball was a little funny. He was playing against two pretty athletic center backs with Chad Marshall being one of them. You’re on the road and then, we’re down a man. So it’s pretty tough. I thought he did a very good job in the second half.
I thought the first half, the game with Julius James and Chad Marshall, they were just kind of marking him tight, playing him aggressively and I don’t think he got away from them. I think he tried to sit there and battle with him. I talked to him a little bit in the second half about movement, getting open and being ahead of them so they can’t just wrap onto him. They have to foul him. I thought he had a good second half.”
Have you thought much about moving Brek Shea back to left mid?
“It does cross your mind. The thing we don’t want to do is turn Brek into a versatile player-left midfield, striker, left back, center back. Without Brek being the type of person that he is where he steps in and plays where you want him to play, who would we have played at center back? Both Ugo and George were out. They were injured. Brek did a fantastic job for us just stepping in. I think he’s improving every training session but it’s needs and demands. If we need him more to get forward and be part of our strike force, then we’ll come to that when we need to come to that.”
Will Kyle Davies become an option at center back once he returns from injury?
“Yeah, I would hope so. The thing you have to realize with Kyle is he only played three games last year. It was a bust of a season for him. It’s one thing to come back with the surgery and another thing to get your form back. It’s one thing to come out and train. It’s another thing to be in game shape.”