Today the team took off for Buenos Aires, Argentina for a 10-day phase of training camp that will include as many as four training games before they return to Seattle March 6.
With a 5-1 preseason record, things are looking good for the high-scoring expansion club. Head coach Sigi Schmi hopes to see more of the same in South America.
“Continue to play well. Continue to get more minutes, and more fitness for each group. We want to get closer and closer to being 90 minute fit,” Schmid said after the Sounders FC beat the defending USL champion Vancouver Whitecaps Sunday.
The Sounders FC are taking 25 players with them to this leg of training camp, including three faces that hadn’t been in camp prior. Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was signed last week, but will join the team in Argentina from his native Colombia. Goalkeeper Evan Bush joins the team on trial after four years at University of Akron. And midfielder Michael Fucito, Seattle’s fourth-round SuperDraft pick, will play after missing the first four weeks of training camp. Third round pick Jared Karkas will increase his workload as well, after suffering a hamstring injury in his first days of training in Ventura, California.
For many players who played with the Sounders in the USL last year, this will be a return trip. The USL club went on a post-season trip to Argentina in October and impressed in their games there. With the opposition in Buenos Aires, the current club will have another chance to test themselves against high-end competition.
“The Argentinean teams are good possession orientated teams, but they can also spring people. It means our defense has to be alert, and we have to do a really good job of shifting,” said Schmid, who took the LA Galaxy to Argentina in 2000 for preseason training. “Argentinean center backs are as good as any center backs in the world, so it’s a good test for our forwards in terms of how to deal with those kind of players and still be successful. It’s just stepping up another level.”
While on the trip, the Sounders must meet MLS roster compliance, with 20 senior roster players and four developmental players. They must have this compliance by March 2. With 25 players in camp, the Sounders FC will also have three players who won’t travel because of injuries. Midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, Seattle’s designated player, is in his native Sweden rehabbing after hip surgery, midfielder Peter Vagenas is recovering from knee surgery in California, and forward Jarrod Smith will remain in Seattle with a hip injury. Ljungberg and Vagenas are expected to join the club in Seattle when they return to training the week of March 9.
When they return, they will face the Colorado Rapids in a closed-door game at Qwest Field on March 12 in final preparation for the season-opener March 19 against the New York Red Bulls.
Check back to SoundersFC.com for daily updates from Argentina.