It’s a funny thing, preseason.
For defender Patrick Ianni, training camps of the last few seasons have meant time to continue rehabbing injuries or working toward the Olympics. For the first time in his professional career, Ianni is gearing toward the regular season with a full head of steam.
No injuries. No other camps to attend. It’s Sounders FC all the way.
“The last few preseasons, I haven’t been able to come in fully fit. That means a lot to me. In the past I haven’t had time to take care of myself or rebuild my body,” Ianni said. “From that standpoint, this was a great offseason for me. I feel more like I’m ready to endure what we go through during a season.”
That can only mean good things for the Sounders FC. After coming to Seattle in a trade one week into 2009 training camp, Ianni watched from the bench behind the solid starting defensive core of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Tyrone Marshall. Through injuries and suspensions, he found himself in the starting lineup for 10 regular season games and he came off the bench for appearances in seven others, playing an integral role in the Sounders 12-7-11 season.
He even provided one of the great offensive highlights of the season twisting a bicycle kick goal past Houston’s Pat Onstad to give Seattle a 2-1 lead in their home win over the Dynamo July 17.
Through all that, Ianni became the only non-starter who the Sounders protected from the 2009 expansion draft.
Not only that, but Ianni also finished the season healthy, which meant more time with his family and more time to relax and prepare for the 2010 season. He split time between Seattle and his home in Lodi, Calif. In his words, “getting ready for Dave (Tenney, fitness coach for the Sounders FC) to kill us.”
“I came in ready to work on my game as opposed to starting from building fitness and strength,” he said. “I’ve been able to use the preseason for what it is ideally about. Being able to just work out and not have to worry about maintenance has been really good.”
Ianni will continue to fight for playing time while providing needed depth at all defensive positions or even as a midfielder in a pinch for a Sounders FC schedule that promises to get quite congested with the MLS schedule, friendlies, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League.
MLS First Kick will begin the bedlam for the entire league, March 25 at Qwest Field when the Sounders face the expansion Philadelphia Union in the first of 10 nationally televised regular season games Seattle will play this season. Limited season tickets remain, but are available by clicking here.