The Sounders FC has made it to Charleston, South Carolina for its second preseason trip of 2014 and on Thursday it got to work.
Head coach Sigi Schmid put the squad through a full training session at Patriot’s Point Athletic Complex with more emphasis on fitness to start the 90-minute spell.
To give you a glimpse of what went down on a very sunny day in Charleston, here are some observations I gathered from the first practice.
Charleston Is Beautiful
Yep, pretty obvious one there. The city is a very nice place to explore and despite only having Wednesday evening and part of Thursday morning to nosey around, it seems like an excellent place for the club’s second trip. It has also been lovely out so far, which the players definitely enjoyed.
First year rookies Jimmy Ockford and Damion Lowe both looked strong in today’s session. Whether it was in the 11v11 played during the second part of the afternoon or the possession drills, both were quite composed on the ball and moved it around nicely.
Another rookie, Sean Okoli, had a fantastic finish when the club switched to a short-field match. Turning off his defender down the right, Okoli blasted the ball near post and in for one of the highlight goals of the day.
Pappa Looks Comfortable
With each passing day, the Sounders new No.10 seems to fitting nicely into the squad. The 26-year-old midfielder was joking around with his teammates at times and directing them fiercely at others. Playing both sides of the pitch, he looked like he had been on the team for longer than a few weeks. He also commands the respect of his fellow players and was able to dance around a number of them with his quick feet. A great addition so far.
Ozzie In Midseason Form
When isn’t Ozzie running his heart out? The Designed Player has looked full of life so far this preseason and that was clearly evident on day one in Charleston. Catching the opposition in possession and chasing down every loose ball, Alonso was doing what Alonso does.
First Team Plays 'Soccer Curling'
Following their hard work in the 11v11 and 8v8 sessions, the first team guys were allowed to work on their own for a while…and they decided to make a game of it. Two teams of six played a variant of curling (or at least that’s what it looked like to me) that tested their accuracy and touch on long, chipped balls.
One member from the team would loft a flighted ball with backspin towards a cone with his teammate by the cone attempting to touch it down softly to said plastic marker. The opposing side would then try to clear the ball away. Fun to watch. They were really getting into it as well.
Pineda Looks Sharp
You don’t start three matches in a World Cup for nothing. Trialist Gonzalo Pineda looked relaxed in the middle of the park for the Sounders second group, despite the massive test of facing off against Ozzie. The coaching staff is taking a good hard look at the midfielder.
Oba Plays Goalie
To close out the session, Sounders Designated Player Obafemi Martins had some fun in goal as he attempted to save some of the team’s shooting drills. Without gloves. Diving and slapping the ball out of the air, the Nigerian gave the squad quite a laugh. I think he saved about two total.