In this week's interview, Chicago Storm head coach Steve Morris discusses some changes to the team's roster and the weekend matches against Detroit and Milwaukee in the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Q. Talk about the recent signing of Gabriel Cigliano. How did this signing come about after drafting his older brother, Pablo, in the 2007 Supplemental Draft?
A. It wasn't until we started our process talking with Pablo that we found out more about Gabriel.
Gabriel was here prior to Christmas, for 12 days, for us to get a look at him and see if he would fit with the indoor game. The transition from futsal to indoor isn't always easy, though it's similar. There's physicality to our game that is not present in futsal. We wanted to make sure he was comfortable with that, the rigors of playing indoor soccer.
Q. What are some of Cigliano's biggest attributes?
A. He's got good skills on the ball. He's athletic, can get up and down the field and he has good speed.
The biggest thing for him is getting comfortable with this brand of soccer. We're not in a position right now where we want to throw him to the wolves and expect him to go out there and compete in a regular shift right now. We'll slowly work him in, and hopefully by the end of the year he will be a factor.
Q. What advantages does he have with playing for A.gentina's national futsal team that should show with the Storm?
A. He understands the intricacies of playing indoor soccer, the passing and the movement after you pass. He knows where the net is, as well. Even though he was playing in the back during his 12-day trial period, he scored a number of goals for us in training. He has the ability to come out of the back and score goals. He's a solid indoor player with a really good engine.
Q. What other roster changes do you have for this weekend?
A. Randy (Soderman) will be here this weekend (returning after the birth of a baby girl). But we've lost Will Kletzien for the season with an A.L tear, which is a big blow to us. We knew based on last season that he would be a big part of our success. It's a shame to lose a player who really loves to play soccer. Up to the injury, Will has been very solid for us and was developing more and more confidence every day. He will be missed, and we look forward to getting Will back for the preseason next year.
Q. Getting into the team's recent play against Philadelphia, were you pleased with the strong first half and the way the team dictated play early on in the match?
A. I think we were pleased with our start. Throughout the season we've been one of the better teams in the first quarter. But the last few weeks we had a little bit of a dry spell as far as scoring goals.
I was very pleased with the quality of play we had early on. I was extremely pleased with the type of goals we scored. I thought we scored some fantastic goals. I was pleased with the power-play goal, after struggling for a couple weeks with that. A.d then we scored a couple goals where we mixed it up in the box where we got rebounds and touches in there. Those are things we worked on all week in practice.
Q. Matthew Stewart has found a bit of a groove, scoring two goals and finding the back of the net in four straight games.
A. We were concerned about Matthew prior to the game. He had a slight groin strain and did not train all week. That put him in doubt as to how he was going to perform. But he got off to a good start.
When you score early goals, that usually sets the wheels in motion for the rest of the game. You like your goal scorers to get out early because when they score in the first quarter, those can lead to your two-, three- and four-goal performances.
I was happy for Matt, and we look for him to continue that offensive play over the next few weeks.
Q. Rookie Ian Bennett continues to improve with every game. Talk about the back story on finding him and the relationship this organization seems to have with finding talent through the Charleston Battery.
A. Well one, he's from my neighboring town in Canada. So obviously that piqued my interest when I first talked to Stephen A.mstrong about him. That's how a lot of things get done in this league. It's current players, it's past/former players, past teammates who are now coaching, they develop connections with and relationships with, and not only help you with players on their particular teams but also people in whatever leagues they're playing in.
We were fortunate enough to have a connection with Stephen and Ian through Indianapolis, mostly. Stephen was at Butler (and Ian is from Marian College). A.d obviously they spent some time together playing for the Charleston Battery.
I think Stephen thought he would be a guy who could play for us, and it's proven so far that he's a good judge in talent.
Q. You've talked about this team's creativeness and character. How do you coach those aspects of play?
A. I've seen a lot of coaches coach it out of players. A.d that's one thing I said in my interview process to become a new coach (with the Storm) is that I was going to let the creative players be creative, and not force them to play in a bubble. They have responsibilities that they have to play within a system, but they're here because of their creativity and skills. We want to make sure that we can harness that as much as possible, without it affecting the structure of the team.
Q. This weekend is a pretty tough one with Detroit and Milwaukee in a three-day stretch. A.ainst the Ignition last time out, how did you prepare as far as set pieces and remedying that shortfall from the last game?
A. I don't know if you prepare in any specific way. We realized that when they dropped behind the ball and make you play defensively, we know that we have to attack differently. We talked about that for a few weeks now.
We also realize that we did a lot of good things against them in both games that we've played so far this season.
They finished 95 percent of their chances against us. In conversations with Bob Lilley in Detroit, he'd be the first to admit that they've taken their chances against us very well, and obviously they have two victories.
That isn't always going to be the case. We hope that we get some of our chances and capitalize on them, and we hope they hit a bit of a dry spell and aren't as sharp around the goal as they have been.
Q. With Milwaukee two days later, will this be a big test in maintaining some stamina?
A. Yes, and it will be for those same two teams, as well. We both have two games this weekend. Milwaukee has to travel a way and then travel back and face us. We only have to travel an hour and a half up to Milwaukee. There's a lot of story lines to this, and what it comes down to is it's all about heart and desire, and a willingness to compete. I'm sure we'll show up with the proper intangibles. We'll be as ready as we can be.
This Interview was conducted by Chicago Storm media relations director Charlie Corr.