September 11th, 2012 by Michael Orr
Note: This interview originally aired on the Tuesday September 11, 2012 Soccer Made in Portland podcast
NASN Portland – Maybe start with the kind of unfortunate yellow card in that last game. Did you expect to get carded as soon as you kicked that ball away?
Steven Smith – Do you know what? It was about frustration. Stupidly. I know I shouldn’t have done it, I realize that now. I’m experienced enough to know that I shouldn’t have done that. But, as I say, I didn’t really know the rulings on the bookings. I thought, after three consecutive games without a card, you get one taken off. So I thought it was back down to three. Gavin [Wilkinson] mentioned it to me the day before and I said don’t know the exact rules. As I say, it was stupid on my part. But these things happen.
NASN Portland – Let’s go a little bit more generally. You seem to have really settled in over the last month or so. What is that attributable to? What do you think is the biggest thing? Just time?
Steven Smith – Time’s the biggest thing. I think, always, when you move to a new club, especially one at the other side of the world, with a lot of different circumstances involved, it’s always going to take time. I said when I first came, I’m not the kind of player who’s going to go in and after one or two games, be at the level I expect myself to be at. I said after ten games, twelve games, that’s when you see the true reflection of a player. I know I’ve had bad games, I know I’ve had good games. That’s just part of the game. If I go into the next game and I’ve had a poor game, and people say, oh he’s back to the form he was at before the last month…that’s part of the game. You have a good game, you have a bad game. As I say, you don’t take too much from it, you just try to concentrate on your own levels and move on.
NASN Portland – Fitness-wise, are you where you want to be at this stretch run of the season?
Steven Smith – I would say so, I would say so. You can always get fitter. You can always better and you can always improve. I feel as if whenever I can go, go the full game for the 90 minutes. Hopefully that’s showing in the performances.
NASN Portland – You mentioned you’ve settled in a bit recently. How much of that is due to, not just getting time with your new teammates and getting used to them, but getting used to Portland and the surrounding environment?
Steven Smith – I think the home games for me have been – I don’t think I’ve really had a bad performance in the home games. I think it’s always been the away performances that I’ve kind of…obviously that goes part in parcel with the results maybe that we’ve had on the road. But, as I say, when you’ve got new environments and new climates and stuff like that, it’s always difficult. You’ve just got to get your head ‘round it and deal with it the best you can. I think this time I was a lot more prepared going into the game in Colorado than I was the first time. I knew what to expect and I think that was a truer reflection of that performance, rather than the first time I went there.
NASN Portland – You talk about playing better at home. Obviously there’s been a lot made of this team, as a whole, playing better at home versus on the road. Has some of that started to get figured out a little bit? I know Colorado is disappointing, but before that in Toronto and New York, those were improved road performances. On some level, is some of that stuff on the road getting sorted a bit?
Steven Smith – The results have probably still been the same, but I would say – everybody’s got opinions – but in my opinion the performances were a lot better in Toronto and New York. Colorado, compared to the first time we went there, I think was a lot better, as well. Same result, same outcome, but I don’t think the 3-0 was a true reflection of the game. I think we had a lot more possession with a lot more chances. Maybe at 2-0 if we maybe scored one of our chances there would’ve been a different outcome of the game. But it’s the same results in the end and all we care about now is getting three points.
NASN Portland – Let’s talk for just a second about Caleb Porter. Obviously a big announcement for the club, big for the future of the club. As a player, how does that impact you? Obviously he’s not going to be around for a little while, until December. How does that change things, or does it?
Steven Smith – I honestly don’t know. You would need to ask the staff here. But I’m happy being here, I’m happy playing. I’m enjoying playing. I’ve not met him and I don’t know too much about him. But when he does come I’ll be looking forward to working with him.
NASN Portland – Is there a difference knowing he’s kind of out there watching, but he’s not here every day at training? Does that add stress? Or is it sort of exciting to try to put on a performance that you know the new coach coming in is going to be watching?
Steven Smith – It’s something different for me. It’s something I’ve not experienced before, when there’s a new coach who doesn’t come in until the next part of the season. But it’s always a personal thing. You’ve always got to give 100% no matter who’s watching. If there’s one person standing on the side watching, for me, I’ve always been brought up to give everything I’ve got. I’m sure the majority of the players are the same.
NASN Portland – Does it feel like sort of an extended try-out during the end of the end of the season?
Steven Smith – For me personally, no. I just go. I play the way I play. If I play well, that’s good. If I don’t play well, I try to correct that for the next game. Everybody’s different. Every player’s got different mental things going on. For me, I just go out and do what I’ve got to do for myself. And if I’m impressing someone else, then so be it.
NASN Portland – What is the locker room like? There’s been some turmoil, obviously. Spencer was let go. The playoffs, that sort of thing, it’s sort of been a disappointing season results-wise. Now a new coach comes in, or at least gets named for next season. What is the atmosphere like, amongst the guys in the locker room, on a day-to-day basis?
Steven Smith – It’s a good locker room. There’s a lot of honest players here who want to do the best that they can. If they always do that, and you always give 100%, nobody can complain. You might not get the results at the end of the day, but if you’re out on the field and you’re giving everything you’ve got, I don’t think there can be too many complaints. Sometimes the results might not be there, sometimes the ability might not be there. But the feeling I get from the locker room is that everybody’s giving 100% every day and every match day. So, at one point we will get a result on the road and we’ve got a lot of ability in the changing room that might take a bit of confidence from it. Who knows where we can go?