Just 79 days since Sounders FC’s 2013 season ended in the Western Conference Semifinals, Seattle opens training camp for its sixth MLS season on Saturday at Starfire.
As with the first day of school, players will be happy to see returning faces and revel in the glow of a fresh new season. They will look to make strong first impressions on new teammates and, for the newcomers, their new coaches.
More than most years, Head Coach Sigi Schmid will look around the field at the first day of camp and see new faces scattered all over the field.
Some of that is the nature of Major League Soccer, but there is also a sense of urgency to the changes that the team undertook over the nearly three months since the season ended.
Seattle has a new goalkeeper in former Toronto FC shot-stopper Stefan Frei. The back line has been revamped by the additions of two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba and first-round SuperDraft selection Damion Lowe. Homegrown products Sean Okoli and Aaron Kovar add depth to the attack along with Tristan Bowen, Chad Barrett and Kenny Cooper, with Barrett and Cooper adding 116 career MLS goals between them.
Despite some offseason changes, the new-look Sounders maintained a rock-solid core of players to build around in 2014. That includes the triumvirate of Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Clint Dempsey, who along with Obafemi Martins, DeAndre Yedlin, Lamar Neagle and Leo Gonzalez made up a strong contingent for Seattle in 2013.
However, Evans and Yedlin will join the team in Tucson, Ariz., after playing in a friendly with the U.S. National Team on February 1 against South Korea at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Dempsey won’t join the team until just before the regular season opener against Sporting Kansas City on March 8.
At that point, all of the work over the next six weeks turns tangible. But for now, just as with every other training camp around MLS, there is infinite hope for the coming season.
Sounders FC Roster
Goalkeepers – Josh Ford, Stefan Frei, Marcus Hahnemann.
Defenders – Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez, Damion Lowe, Chad Marshall, *Jimmy Ockford, Dylan Remick, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, DeAndre Yedlin.
Midfielders – Osvaldo Alonso, Alex Caskey, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph, Aaron Kovar, Lamar Neagle, *Fabio Pereira, *Stefano Rijssel, Andy Rose.
Forwards – Chad Barrett, Will Bates, Tristan Bowen, Kenny Cooper, David Estrada, Obafemi Martins, Sean Okoli, Eriq Zavaleta.
*Unsigned SuperDraft Picks