Daily Journal from Seattle Sounders 2024 Preseason in Spain

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Similar to other long trips the team has done for preseason, I’ll be updating a daily journal to let you know what’s going down in Spain. Thanks for tagging along!

Friday, February 9 - 11:43 p.m.

Since the last preseason friendly was moved up a day yesterday, we received an unexpected off day today (aside from a morning gym session for the players). A big group of players and staff bussed to Malaga to check out the Picasso museum and walk around the historic town.

It’s time to pack up, though, we’re leaving for the airport at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow! Let’s get the season started.

Thursday, February 8 - 7:33 p.m.

We had a pair of friendlies today vs. Odense BK — a Danish team who is mid-season — and it was a bit of a wake-up call after our previous two results. The first match ended in a 3-0 defeat, while the second one was a 2-1 loss. The highlight of the day was a stunning chip from Rául Ruidíaz.

It was the first time the players have gone a full 90 minutes in 2024. And even though the results were a bummer, fitness was the key objective today.

Wednesday, February 7 - 11:10 p.m.

It was quite the showing for the birthday boy!

Pedro de la Vega’s training session started with getting slapped by his teammates through a tunnel and ended with a highly entertaining interview alongside Danny Leyva, but it’s all about what happened in between that was most impressive. During a 6v6 drill, I believe every goal from his team was either scored or assisted by Pedro. He just finds an extra gear with the ball and I can’t wait to see him get going when the season starts.

Our final friendly in Marbella has been bumped up a day to tomorrow, so today is actually our last training full day in Spain. Now I’m getting sad... this camp has been a blast.

Tuesday, February 6 - 8:13 p.m.

The squad returned to the training ground this morning for another session. It seemed to go a bit quicker than our trainings last week — maybe I was just enjoying sitting in the sunshine. it was capped off by a highly entertaining 6v6 drill, including a goal from newcomer Pedro de la Vega.

A bit of personal commentary here — I’ve been super impressed with the vibe around the team all camp long. I think the returners were all excited to be back in Marbella, and the newcomers have done well to fit in. From big laughs during meals to competitive training sessions to fun team events, it’s a good group who have enjoyed themselves. The MLS season is coming quick and I can’t wait to see what this team does.

Monday, February 5 - 11:21 p.m.

It’s off day! No required meals, no training, and no meetings — it’s the only day of the trip with nothing work-related on the agenda for anyone on the trip.

A couple groups went golfing at one of the fantastic courses nearby. I heard a few others made their way to Sevilla for a day trip, while others opted to walk around Old Town Marbella. I ended up in Gibraltar and saw monkeys. 10/10 experience, did not disappoint.

Sunday, February 4 - 6:57 p.m.

Happy Matchday! The squad earned a 3-0 victory (over 135 minutes) vs. Swedish side IFK Norrköping in Marbella. Albert Rusnák, Léo Chú and Dylan Teves scored the goals for Seattle for our second win of the preseason in as many matches.

After a quick break at the hotel, everyone freshened up and we’re about to head out the door for a team dinner! We’ve always enjoyed these meals off-site, especially in other countries, and I expect the food to be spectacular…. And probably some spontaneous musical performances along the way.

Saturday, February 3 - 9:28 p.m.

It’s once again “Matchday -1”, meaning the team had a shorter session ahead of tomorrow’s preseason scrimmage vs. IFK Norrköping at the Marbella Football Center (watch the scrimmage LIVE courtesy of the Marbella Football center:

Today’s conditions were - dare I say it - a bit chilly, with the wind picking up and the sun staying mostly behind clouds. The squad played some 6v6 matches with small goals, then moved over to the bigger goals for a fast-paced shooting drill. Obed Vargas, Jordan Morris, Snyder Brunell, and Georgi Minoungou each scored.

Afterwards, the team begrudgingly did a pool session at the hotel. As nice as it may look in photos with fence-lined palm trees, the pool isn’t heated… and with the temperature in the high 50s with wind, it felt more like a polar plunge than a relaxing dip. Either way, there ended up being lots of smiles and splashes by the end of the activation.

Friday, February 2 - 10:43 p.m.

We’re at the halfway point of our trip here in Spain, and, thankfully, the sun came out to join us.

Today’s training session featured some fast-paced, small-field goals where they continued to work on attacking movements and their upfield shape progression. It’s apparent that finding ways to score more goals has been an emphasis of camp. The session wrapped up with a finishing drill, with strikers and midfielders working on their one-time finishes on crosses from the wing.

After dinner, we had our second annual Spain trivia night (hosted by yours truly and a PR staffer!!!). The players all seemed to have enjoyed it - especially the Pictionary and charades rounds - and the team comprising Jordan Morris, Jacob Castro, Reed Baker-Whiting, Xavier Arreaga, Sota Kitahara, Jon Bell, and Danny Musovski claimed the victory.

Thursday, February 1 - 10:13 p.m.

After yesterday’s friendly, the squad had a recovery session in the morning, and then they were off the hook the rest of the day. I heard murmurs of a few veterans hitting the golf course in the afternoon, while some of the young guys jetted off to Old Town Marbella to check out the sights. Dinner was on our own, as well — I can’t speak for the players, but I joined a couple staff members for paella (pork ribs, chorizo, bell peppers), garlic bread, and a local red wine. It was just as delicious as you could imagine!

Wednesday, January 31 - 7:12 p.m.

At long last, we played soccer! Today featured a pair of 60-minute friendlies vs. Serbian side Bačka at Marbella Training Center.
You can find a longer recap HERE.

In short, we tied the first match 1-1, then won the second scrimmage 2-1. The day’s highlight occurred on the last play of match, when Léo Chú sent a cross into the area, Jordan Morris dummied and left the ball for a charging Albert Rusnák, who then knocked home the game-winning goal in the final minute.

One of my favorite parts of preseason soccer is how the rest of the team sits in the stands to watch the match and even occasionally cheer as fans. After an impressive through ball, it felt like most of the roster bursted out in “well done, Danny!” cheers and claps.

Tuesday, January 30 - 3:35 p.m.

We had our first special guest of the trip join us at camp today: Erik Friberg!

The former Sounder midfielder is now the Head of Scouting at BK Häcken, a Swedish club that also has a camp nearby. It was great to see him chop it up with the coaches and team staff who were around for his playing stints at the club - in 2011 and again from 2015-2016. The highlight came after training, when Friberg did on-camera interviews (and had off-camera conversations) with his former teammates: Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan, and Stefan Frei. It’s always fun to see familiar faces around the squad and watch how excited they are to see one another.

Also spotted after training today… a very intense ping-pong battle between Nathan and João Paulo in the player lounge. Léo Chú was there, of course, providing a one-man cheering section for both sides.

Monday, January 29 - 9:04 p.m.

The first overcast day of the trip gave big Seattle vibes. Clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees to the low 60s today, which I am sure was welcomed by the players after yesterday’s double session. Today’s drills including some 11 v. 11 work, followed by a special focus on scoring off set pieces.

This afternoon was all about film sessions and rest for the players, including visits to the hotel’s sauna and cold plunges at the pool. A couple of us on staff ventured into the Old Town neighborhood of Marbella, which was one of our favorite spots last year and it was great to visit again. I am sure we will be back soon!

Sunday, January 28 - 9:09 p.m.

The first two-a-days training session is in the books.

We started and ended the day at Marbella Training Center, as the guys did several short-sided drills with high intensity in the morning and focused on offensive movement and shooting in the evening. It can be tough to pinpoint a standout performer with so many fast-paced drills, but the leadership and composure from Cristian Roldan has been on full display.

We ended the day with a free-kick drill with the whole squad standing behind the shooters. The stars of the show were Albert Rusnák, Danny Leyva, and Raúl Ruidíaz, each of whom scored from distance.

Saturday, January 27 - 8:44 p.m. 

The vibes are vibing!

We started the day with a team walk down to the Marbella Football Center, where we will be training for the next two weeks. The grass is pristine, the weather is perfect, and the guys were in good spirits after a long travel day. In the afternoon, a few of us on staff did another walk to the nearby town of San Pedro, a beautiful community with sandy beaches on the Alboran Sea.

Due to the players' rest schedule, the staff opted for an evening training. It was all pretty light ahead of a double session tomorrow, although afterwards a lot of the players stayed around and participated (or heckled) in a heated game of soccer tennis. Team Ruidíaz/Vargas/Rothrock barely defeated Team Arreaga/Leyva/Kossa-Rienzi (MLS SuperDraft pick) for the victory, with Léo Chù leading the player cheering section.

Friday, January 26 - 5:45 p.m.

We have ARRIVED.

After a long travel day that went from Seattle to Frankfurt to Malaga, and then a bus ride to Marbella, the team arrived to the hotel to start our preseason camp. We’ll be here for the next 15 days to get the squad ready for the 2024 MLS campaign.



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