A Busy Road Ahead

Insider Matt Gaschk has a look at several upcoming events taking place as the MLS offseason winds down over the next couple of months, starting with the MLS Combine set to begin Friday, January 11 in Lauderhill, Florida.

It’s the calm before the storm.

Friday begins the whirlwind conclusion to the MLS offseason as clubs convene on Lauderhill, Florida, for the MLS Combine ahead of next Thursday’s SuperDraft in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Here is a summary of the upcoming dates to mark on your calendar.

Friday, January 11-Tuesday, January 15 - MLS Combine (Lauderhill, Florida)

The top college talent from around the country will participate in the five-day event as coaches, technical directors and general managers from around the league take one last look at the players who will be on the board for the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.  Games will be played on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday, with live streaming on MLSsoccer.com.

Thursday, January 17 - MLS SuperDraft (Indianapolis)

The Sounders hold the 16th and 35th picks in the two-round draft, kicking off with Toronto FC making the first overall pick at 9 am Pacific Time from the Indiana Convention Center.

Friday, January 18 – Copa Centroamerican: Honduras vs. El Salvador (San Jose, Costa Rica)

Sounders midfielder Mario Martinez and Honduras square off with El Salvador in their first match of the Central American championship tournament, which also acts as a qualifier for the 2013 Gold Cup.

Monday, January 21 - Preseason Training Begins (Starfire, Tukwila, Wash.)

Tuesday, January 22 - MLS Supplemental Draft (New York)

Last year, the Sounders selected midfielder Andy Rose in the supplemental draft.  The four rounds of the draft will be conducted over a conference call.  Will the Sounders find another diamond in the rough like they did last year?  Seattle holds picks 5, 16, 35, 54 and 73.

Tuesday, January 22 – Copa Centroamericana: Honduras vs. Panama (San Jose, Costa Rica)

In the second and final match of the group stage for Honduras, they will meet Panama, with seeding for the final rounds on the line.  Finishing in the top two in the group will ensure Honduras a spot in the Gold Cup, while finishing third will force them into the fifth-place game on January 25.

Wednesday, January 23 and Saturday, January 26 – King’s Cup: Sweden vs. TBD (Thailand)

The decades-old international tournament in Thailand is unclear about who Sweden will meet in their two matches, but Sounders defender Adam Johansson has been called in for the two matches, keeping him in the picture for a friendly against Argentina on February 6 and the UEFA qualifying rounds for the FIFA World Cup in March.

Tuesday, January 29 - International Friendly: USA vs. Canada (Houston, Texas)

Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans got called in to January camp for the US and could both see time for Jurgen Klinsmann in the friendly against Canada ahead of a critical World Cup qualifying match against Honduras the following week.

Tuesday, January 29-Tuesday, February 5 - Preseason Training Camp (Casa Grande, Arizona)

For the fourth straight year, the Sounders will head to the remote training facility in Casa Grande, this year training for just a week before returning to Seattle, but not without getting in a training game against their top rivals.

Tuesday, February 5 - Training Game: Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers (Tucson, Arizona)

The Sounders are preparing for the season opener on March 2 and two pivotal CONCACAF Champions League matches, so the first training game of pre-season against Portland has much more meaning than an early season friendly would have under normal circumstances.  However, it is just that –a preseason training game to get their legs back under them to get ready for a grueling schedule.

Wednesday, February 6-Sunday, February 10 - Preseason Training (Starfire, Tukwila, Wash.)

The Sounders will make a brief return to Seattle in the next phase of camp before embarking on the match-heavy final portion.

Wednesday, February 6 - 2014 World Cup Qualifying: USA at Honduras (San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

In their first full day back in Seattle, the Sounders will have a chance to support teammates in an extremely important match in the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying as the US takes on Honduras, who will likely feature Martinez in the midfield.

Monday, February 11-Saturday, February 23 - Preseason Training Camp (Tucson, Arizona)

This is the match-heavy portion of the preseason, as the Sounders will play the Desert Diamond Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

Wednesday, February 13 - Desert Diamond Cup: Sounders FC vs. New England Revolution

Saturday, February 16 - Desert Diamond Cup: Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake

Wednesday, February 20 - Desert Diamond Cup: Sounders FC vs. New York Red Bulls

Saturday, February 23 - Desert Diamond Cup Final/3rd Place Game: Sounders FC vs. TBD

Each match of the Desert Diamond Cup will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com, but the final match will get some special treatment, with television coverage on NBC Sports.

Sunday, February 24 - Return to Seattle

Saturday, March 2 - MLS First Kick: Sounders FC vs. Montreal Impact, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Wednesday, March 6 - CONCACAF Champions League: Sounders FC at Tigres UANL, Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico (leg one)

Tuesday, March 12 - CONCACAF Champions League: Sounders FC vs. Tigres UANL, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle (leg two)

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