A lot has happened in Seattle since Sounders FC left for preseason training in Tucson, Ariz.
Although it was only 12 days, the city the Sounders called home was engulfed in Super Bowl fever. Now, upon the club’s return from the Arizona sun, the Sounders hoped to absorb some of that success when they trained at the Super Bowl champion Seahawks practice facility at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Wednesday.
“That’s why we’re here, so maybe some of that can rub off on us,” laughed Sigi Schmid after Seattle returned to training after two days off. “Seattle is a great sports town and obviously very supportive of teams that win and we want to be part of that as well. We want to be part of that winning tradition. If we can follow suit with them and help that reputation continue, that would be great for us.”
Training in Seattle was a different experience for different players on the Sounders FC roster. To Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin, it was the first full training session in Seattle since the end of the 2013 season as the two were off at training camp with the U.S. National Team. To newcomer Marco Pappa, it’s the first opportunity he has had to play in Seattle as a member of the Sounders after coming to the team midway through the Arizona leg of preseason. To others, it was a chance to return to their own beds and back to a more regular routine away from the hotel living of training camp.
“It’s definitely nice to get out of the humidity and warm weather and back to my known climate,” said Yedlin, who was in California and Brazil with the National Team before joining Sounders FC in Arizona. “It’s great to get back with the guys and it’s nice to see them again.”
Training at the indoor practice field at the Seahawks’ Renton facility, Sounders FC continued the fitness work that had been ubiquitous through the first two weeks of camp before a series of four matches in five days in Arizona that saw Seattle go 3-0-1.
The team will spend a week at home, splitting time among VMAC, the team’s training grounds at Starfire and at CenturyLink Field before heading to Charleston, SC, for the final leg of preseason camp from February 19-March 2. In that time, Schmid will continue to shift the focus from conditioning to getting the team tactically prepared to open the season on March 8 against Sporting Kansas City.
“We were able to get the fitness work in that we wanted to get in. We started to work on the team shape and cohesion and now we can really concentrate on that part of it,” Schmid said. “We just want to work on our team right now. Our understanding, our shape, our movement of the ball. We want to work on those things and make sure we can get the ball moving a little bit quicker. Then when we go into Charleston, it’s going to be more of a game phase.”
Schmid had nearly his full roster available at training. Eriq Zavaleta was limited after taking a knock late in the Tucson trip and Will Bates continued to rehab an off-season injury. Clint Dempsey remains on loan at Fulham in England, but otherwise the full roster was available, including nine non-roster players seeking the chance to make Seattle home. Among those were two new faces – MLS veteran Danny O’Rourke and Panamanian youngster Omar Browne.
It was business as usual during training as Seattle continues preparations for its sixth MLS season, but with another preseason trip just around the corner, the players find themselves taking in the sights and sounds.
“It feels so good, especially after two days off,” Evans said. “The focus turns now to March 8, but you enjoy it as much as you can.”