Just over two months after lifting MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Sounders kicked off the 2020 MLS preseason on Tuesday.
The reigning champs returned to training at Starfire Sports for the first official practice ahead of the new season. Even thought it was a light session amid the snowfall in Tukwila, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer noted it was important for the coaching staff to set the tone early.
“We’re just getting them back on their feet,” he said. “It’s messaging, getting them all together. I brought the two [MLS Cup] trophies today to the locker room, just to make sure I reminded them they’ve done some pretty special things.”
Even though there have been a few offseason departures, nearly the entire starting XI that stormed through the playoffs is returning. Seattle’s potent attack of Joevin Jones, Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz, who combined for nine goals and 11 assists from four postseason matches last year, will all be back for the 2020 season.
“The core guys who are here are still really good,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “If you put a starting lineup out tomorrow with just the guys that are here, you would still win a ton of games.”
With another MLS Cup in the club’s jam-packed trophy cabinet, the staff and players have set their sights on Concacaf Champions League.
No MLS side has ever won the continental competition. But with so many key contributors from the Sounders’ championship-winning team coming back for another campaign, the players are confident that the Rave Green can make waves against the top clubs from Mexico and Central America.
“When I come here to Seattle, I always said I want to win every trophy,” said Lodeiro. “This year we have a good opportunity to play Concacaf Champions League, an international trophy. This is our goal for the year.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who has helped the Sounders win two MLS Cups, a Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup, echoed that sentiment.
“Concacaf is difficult, but it’s a huge opportunity,” added Frei.” It’s one that no MLS team has been able to conquer. It’s a chance. There’s a massive chance there. So, we’re excited for that opportunity as well.
The Sounders will train at Starfire Sports for the rest of the week before jetting off to Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday for a 10-day training camp.