Sounders train at CenturyLink Field for first time in 2014
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
The club got its first look at CenturyLink Field on Saturday ahead of its trip to Charleston on Wednesday.
Sounders FC is three weeks away from opening the MLS season on March 8 against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field.
Since the team will be spending most of that time in Charleston, SC, for training camp, Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid decided that Saturday would be a good day to introduce many of the new players on the team to the stadium they will call home. To do that, he had Sounders FC train at CenturyLink Field.
“We wanted to get the guys used to the field a little bit because there are a lot of new players who haven’t played a lot of games here,” Schmid said. “I think it’s important early in the season to get used to the confines, see what it sounds like. Every field plays a little bit different. So it’s just a matter of being a bit more comfortable in the surroundings you’re in.”
To the many new players in Rave Green for the 2014 season, it was the first chance to get a look at CenturyLink Field. For those who had come from other MLS clubs, it was a new perspective on the stadium that has housed the largest crowds in MLS for five years running.
“Playing against the Seattle Sounders over the years, you get a feel for how big the club is and how great the fans are – the passion and the numbers that come out are incredible,” said forward Kenny Cooper, who had previously played for FC Dallas, the Portland Timbers and the New York Red Bulls. “Over the last few weeks I’ve really gotten a better understanding of just how massive this club is and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. We got a little taste of that today.”
New players weren’t the only ones growing accustomed to their surroundings though. The training session also served as a bit of a housewarming party for new season ticket holders and hundreds of fans converged on the east side of the stadium before dispersing to the seats that they will call home for Seattle’s 17 regular season home matches and the July 19 friendly against Tottenham Hotspur.
Having an audience raised the level on the field, too.
“It’s nice to get the feel of the stadium and the size of the field here. To play in front of the new season tickets holders is always a good time, so we got to put on a little show for them,” said defender Chad Marshall, who played 10 seasons with the Columbus Crew before an offseason trade landed him in Seattle.
It was a sentiment held by his teammates, too.
“I really enjoyed getting out there and being able to play a little bit and be in the stadium in front of some fans,” Cooper said. “It was a great experience.”
On the field, Seattle continued to build its rhythm for the start of the 2014 season. With Sounders FC’s first nine matches coming on consecutive Saturday’s, Schmid is already looking to get the team in the habit of training for matches on a consistent schedule. That meant abbreviated scrimmages at CenturyLink Field with everyone on the roster playing 60 minutes.
“We wanted to play everybody 60 today,” Schmid said. “It was a good training session. We got out of it what we wanted to get out of it.”
Seattle will return to training at Starfire on Monday and Tuesday before departing for Charleston, SC, on Wednesday, where Sounders FC will face the Charleston Battery, Houston Dynamo and D.C. United to close out the preseason schedule.