TUCSON, Ariz. – The Sounders spent a good portion of their match with Veracruz of the Mexican second division on the doorstep to a night of plenty of scoring on Friday. And while they came up with a 0-0 draw, there was still plenty to be taken from the match as the Sounders used the friendly as the final stepping stone toward the start of the regular season.
Repping the 206
DeAndre Yedlin signed as Seattle’s first Homegrown Player, but it looked like he might be in for a fight for playing time with both Adam Johansson and Zach Scott on the depth chart. But with Johansson taking a knock and Scott moved to center back duties, the window was open for Yedlin to show that he belongs in MLS and he has done nothing to prove otherwise yet. Friday night against Veracruz was no different, as the 19-year-old Seattlite played like he belonged in the starting lineup
“I thought DeAndre did well, and I think you can see he is a good player and he's going to become an even better player,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I was happy with him. He should be happy with what he did.”
For his part, Yedlin said he is ready to start on March 2 against the Montreal Impact if he is called upon.
“I’m definitely comfortable. Zach Scott and Mario (Martinez) definitely make it easy,” Yedlin said. “I feel like I’m ready. It will be an amazing experience to play in front of my hometown fans and my family.”
Playing to zero
For the third time in five preseason matches, the Sounders FC defense has come up with a clean sheet, this time with the starting defense playing the full 90 minutes, including goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
“The defense was great the whole preseason. There wasn’t a lot to do for me,” said Gspurning, who did make two important saves late in the match to preserve the shutout. “It was good for me to get two saves to make sure that I’m awake for the season.”
Gspurning hasn’t had a ton to do all preseason in large part because of the defenders – and MLS Best XI defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso – in front of him. When he is brought to task, though, he has shown a knack for making all the saves.
Rosales as second forward?
One of the top questions of 2013 preseason has been who would pair with Eddie Johnson as the second forward in the Sounders FC starting lineup. Will Mauro Rosales be the guy to fill that role?
Seattle’s captain has played as the second forward in each of his last two appearances – with David Estrada in a substitute stint in a 2-0 win over New York on Wednesday and with Johnson on Friday. The results have been far from disappointing.
“Right now with Martinez playing as well as he is, he needs to be on the field. Zakuani I thought did a good job, and fitness-wise he's way ahead of where he's ever been at this stage in preseason,” Schmid said. “Mauro can play that position underneath, he's someone that will get into the box, as well, and we think that's a good combination.”
Ready, but work to be done
Sometimes the best thing for a confident team is to find that they aren’t unbeatable. On Friday, the Sounders played very well, but without the finishing touch they were unable to walk away with the win. Schmid said he is confident that his team is ready to start the season, but was sure to point out that there are things – including, of course, finishing – for the team to work on if they want to get off to a strong start to the 2013 schedule.
“We’ve got to work on our set pieces. We didn’t take advantage of our corners. We’ve got to work on set pieces this week, for sure. We have to work on our finishing, as well,” Schmid said. “We just have to work on basically dotting the i's and crossing the t's when we put together good combinations so we finish them and make a tally on the scoreboard.”
The Sounders will play their final preseason match on Saturday at 5 pm PT against Real Salt Lake in the Desert Diamond Cup final, which will be televised live on NBC Sports.