The Sounders were back to work on the training field on Thursday after Wednesday night's 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Seven matches into this year's preseason, the club remains undefeated and will face D.C. United in the final round on Saturday at 2 p.m. PT.
To prepare for the match, the club had a very light-hearted session on Thursday. Here's some of the best bits from the day.
Friends From Seattle
Don Ruiz from the News Tribune made the long trek down to South Carolina and was on hand at training and Wednesday night's match. Sitting a few rows behind me in the bleacher, he seemed pleasantly surprised with the extremely loose mood on the pitch.
Joining Don in Charleston were two members of the SoundersFC.com team as host Jackie Montgomery and video intern Emily Dassel came down to help me out. If the sun wasn't out, I'd nearly think I was at Starfire.
Group Work Early
The guys formed teams of six which for the first half of the session was how they stayed. To start out, they did keepy-uppy drills focusing on two-touch work. Working on their headers, the guys had to keep the ball up between two opposing lines of three using two well-placed head balls. Zach Scott had a particular nice go of this as one his headers was a skilled backwards flick after the first one made him reverse.
From there, the groups of six all joined hands and had a race of sorts as they had to head the ball back and forth among them while move towards the center line. Got a number of laughs and shouts as it got pretty competitive. Naturally, the losing squad had to do a set of push-ups. There were lots of push-ups.
If nothing else, it was hilarious to watch six groups of six guys holding hands trying to keep a soccer ball in the air only with their heads.
Breaking It Up
The guys who played yesterday then went on to regen with the fitness staff while the remainder of the squad worked on their finishing, including Djimi Traore, who was an absolute legend in this session. With two goals facing the same way, the opposing groups of seven or eight were tasked with finishing around cones or on the volley. Rookie Fabio Pereira hit the post with three consecutive efforts.
Djimi Puts In Work
With the teams battling to six goals apiece, Djimi did his part with a lovely right-footed finish to the far post that raised the noise level at training. From there, he celebrated by doing his best Oba impresion...which ended up being a pretty tidy cartwheel. No flips though. It's been clearly evident through this trip and the rest of preseason that Traore has become a vocal leader on this team.
Marcus Gets In On The Fun
Known for the odd acrobatic performance in training, Marcus Hahnemann decided he wanted to join one of the teams who were taking volleys from the corner. On his second attempt, he took the ball with a full scissors motion and blasted it towards the goal...CLANG...off the crossbar. And of course, the on-looking crowd went crazy.
Weaver Has A Hammer
During the finishing drills, no one struck the ball as hard or with as much accuracy as trialist Cam Weaver. They were blistering efforts coming in from every direction and most were on target. I believe I won two of the games for his side as well. Definitely giving the coaching staff something to think about.
Great Vibe Going Into 2014
I've only been with the Sounders for about a year and a half, but I have seen my fair share of training sessions. This was by far the most relaxed and happy I've seen the team. Everyone was having a good time, but really working hard at the same time. Seems to be one of the goals moving forward. Really great to see.
More Tidbits coming your way tomorrow after the last training session of the Charleston trip.