Sounders finish first full day of training in Tucson

After an abbreviated session the day the club arrived in Arizona, everyone was out there working hard on the first full day away from Seattle.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Sounders FC was hoping to find sun and a competition level to match the heat when it traveled to Tucson, Ariz., for preseason training camp this week.

That is exactly what the team found when it went through the rigors of its first full training session on Thursday morning at Kino Sports Complex, with temperatures rising into the 70s with a likelihood of even higher temperatures for the afternoon session.

Playing on the well-groomed grass surface of its practice field – which was the main stadium field a year ago – Seattle played two short-sided games and already the mentality of the team is shining through.

“Warmer weather is an important part of it and it’s a nice training facility for them,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “It helps from a team-building standpoint and training was very good. There was some good intensity.”

Seattle has a good mix of returning players and new talent to make for some competitive training sessions.

Having spry rookies filled with energy like Homegrown signings Aaron Kovar and Sean Okoli and SuperDraft picks Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford has been valuable. But so have veterans who are new to the team like Chad Marshall, Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett, Tristan Bowen and Stefan Frei that have a hunger to impress in the early stages of training camp.

“They bring a renewed energy and life to the whole thing. There’s a lot of spirit that they bring, but you also have veteran guys that are renewed,” Schmid said.

Seattle has 38 days before opening the regular season on March 8 against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field, but starts preseason games next week. In that time, the players will look to gain a strong cohesiveness while the coaches will look to establish the best lineups to optimize the talent on the team.

For the players, some of that cohesiveness is already showing up in training because of a strong-willed mentality shared by both returning veterans and new additions alike.

“We have some new faces, so we definitely need to get on the same page and guys connecting a lot more,” Lamar Neagle said. “Just in the few practices that we’ve had, we all have similar mentalities and we all play the same, so we have similar mentalities.”

Sounders FC will play four matches in Arizona during this leg of training camp. The first will come on Wednesday against the San Jose Earthquakes at newly built stadium at Kino Sports Complex. Seattle will also play Vancouver Whitecaps FC on February 6 at Francisco Grande in Casa Grande, then the Portland Timbers on February 8 and Vancouver again on February 9 at Kino Sports Complex.

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