Sounders back to work at after bye week

The club is starting its preparations for a return trip to Real Salt Lake after the 2-1 defeat back in late March.

Some stayed home. Some got away.

No matter how the Sounders FC players spent their five-day break, they returned ready for training on Monday with a heated conference battle against Real Salt Lake on the horizon.

“It’s good for them to get a break to get away, spend some time with their family or do whatever they want to do,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid, also noting the importance of a good training session in their first day back. “It was good for them to sweat. You need that first day of sweating, then they’ll all feel a lot better tomorrow.”

The time off was a nice refresher for some, but as the days wore on, they all became anxious to return to the field. The five days off was the longest break the team had since training camp.

“The first few days, it was nice to be out. But then you’re waiting to get back and ready to get the second part started,” said defender Marc Burch, who went to Whistler with his wife and his dog. “I think that’s how everybody came to training today. It’s always good to get a little bit of rest before you get into the long haul.”

Training started off with the club’s normal warmup routine, but that portion of training finished with a variation of the famed “beep test” that the team does in preseason to measure fitness.

The team was told before the break that they would take the test when they returned, and the test was shortened as it was confirmed that the team came back ready to play.

“That was something to keep on your mind when we were on the break,” said forward Lamar Neagle, who stayed in the Seattle area and spent time with family over the break. “It keeps guys in shape and keeps guys honest.”

In training, the Sounders played bigger versions of their normal training games, keeping the field big and focusing more on getting out and running than on doing things in short bursts. The result was a solid first session back in the sunny late-morning weather.

“Passing is always going to be a little bit off at the beginning, but it got sharper toward the end,” Burch said.

Still without Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson and Mario Martinez, who will meet in a World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday, and DeAndre Yedlin (U-20 World Cup) and Eriq Zavaleta (on loan with San Antonio), the Sounders took to the field at Starfire with nearly a full force on Monday. Obafemi Martins was allowed an extra day off due to his arrival to the team fresh from the Spanish first division, which was in midseason when he joined the Sounders in March. Martins is expected to be with the team on Tuesday.

Osvaldo Alonso was also limited in training as he returns from a quad strain suffered in Seattle’s 2-0 win over Chivas USA on June 1. The team is still monitoring Alonso’s recovery and his availability for Saturday’s match with RSL is still up in the air.

“We’re trying to make sure we make the right decision going into this game. We don’t want to push him into the Salt Lake game and then lose him again,” Schmid said. “If he’s ready to play, we’ll play him because he’s an important member of our team.”

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