Rave Report: March to 2014 begins Friday

Rave Report: March to 2014 begins Friday

The MLS Combine starts Friday in Florida, the Rapids and Earthquakes exchange veterans, Champions League is around the corner and D.C. signs its seventh Homegrown player.

The 2014 season is fast-approaching, but there is still plenty to be done before Sounders FC begins the laborious battle of the MLS season.

Friday marks the start of a hectic preseason for Sounders FC as the coaching staff heads to Lauderhill, Florida, for the MLS Combine with the March to Soccer Opening Match just around the corner on March 8.

Sigi Schmid, Brian Schmetzer and the rest of the coaching staff, along with Sporting Director Chris Henderson and Owner/General Manager Adrian Hanauer, will get one last look at the players available in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft at the MLS Combine, a list that includes UW product Taylor Peay and Sounders FC U-23 midfielder Aodhan Quinn, among others.

After the series of matches in Florida, many of the players and staffs will reconvene in Philadelphia for the MLS SuperDraft on January 16 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. There, Sounders FC holds four picks, one in each round, starting with the 13th overall pick in the first round.

Upon returning to Seattle, many players will already be participating in informal training sessions until training camp officially starts on January 25 at Starfire.
This year’s preseason schedule includes a trip to Tucson, Arizona, from January 29-February 9 and Charleston, South Carolina, from February 19-March 2. On the first leg, Seattle will meet the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers in preseason matches at Kino Sports Complex, while it will face the Charleston Battery, Houston Dynamo and D.C. United in Charleston.

All that leads up to March to Soccer’s Opening Match on March 8 against defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field.

SAN JOSE AND COLORADO SWAP FORMER TEAMMATES

The Colorado Rapids added some speed to their flanks while the Earthquakes added more bite to their attack in a swap on Tuesday that sent Honduran midfielder Marvin Chavez to Colorado in exchange for Atiba Harris.

Chavez has 12 goals and 20 assists in 96 matches over five seasons for FC Dallas and San Jose, including a standout season of 13 assists in 2012, but was limited to just 15 matches last season. Harris, an eight-year MLS veteran, will be joining his sixth team and third in the last three seasons. He has 22 goals and 20 assists in 167 career matches with Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Colorado.

The two players played together with FC Dallas in 2009 and 2010.

San Jose also signed former AC Ajaccio captain Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, a 28-year-old French defensive midfielder, on Tuesday.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS SET

There will be a new champion in the CONCACAF region, as three-time defending Champions League winners Monterrey are not in the CCL quarterfinal round. That opens up the field for three MLS clubs to make a push to become the first MLS team to win a CONCACAF Champions League title under the format the tournament took in 2008. The LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City will all vie for that title when they open the quarterfinal round beginning on March 10.

The first matchup of the round features Alajuelense of Costa Rica hosting Arabe Unido from Panama on March 10, with the return leg coming on March 20 in Panama. San Jose opens at home against Toluca on March 11 and finishes in Mexico on March 19. On Wednesday, March 12, Kansas City will host Cruz Azul and LA hosts Tijuana. SKC goes to Mexico for the second leg on March 19, while LA will play its road leg on March 18.

The semifinal rounds run from April 1-10 with the finals from April 15-24.

D.C. SIGNS HOMEGROWN DEFENDER

D.C. United already has 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar and U.S. goalkeeper Bill Hamid to its credit when it comes to products of the club’s Academy system. On Monday, D.C. announced the signing of its seventh Homegrown Player, 19-year-old Wake Forest defender Jalen Robinson. A representative of the U.S. at the U-15, U-17, U-18 and U-20 level, Robinson helped the Demon Deacons reach the NCAA quarterfinals in his sophomore season.

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