As training wrapped up at Starfire Sports on Saturday morning, head coach Sigi Schmid said his players spent the session getting back into the swing of things after having time off after their first meaningful match of the calendar year.
"Today was all about getting into the rhythm and playing a little bit," said Schmid. "We know beginning with today, there's going to be a stretch through the Kansas City game where there won't be a day off."
That stretch begins as the team hits the road on Monday, landing first in Los Angeles to train at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. before continuing the trip south to Mexico City for Wednesday evening's second leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Schmid said he and his staff made the decision to split the trip up with travel on both Monday and Tuesday as a way to get in a quality training session and avoid a long connection.
Aside from the difficulty of facing a team like Club America away from home, Schmid's team will be dealing with altitude, something he said is "part and parcel" of playing at Estadio Azteca. "When we go somewhere with altitude, we try to get in within 24 hours of kickoff," said Schmid, adding that some of his players have already had a competitive match as part of national team duties.
After drawing 2-2 at CenturyLink Field on Tuesday evening, a Seattle win or draw with at least three goals would secure a spot in the semifinals for a second time in SCCL play. Schmid is well-aware that keeping a clean sheet will be important as the Sounders go up against the defending CCL champions. "Winning 1-0 is easier than winning 2-1 or 3-2. It's important that we don't give up the goals we gave up in the last game," said Schmid. "Their crowd is going to demand that they attack us a bit. That'll open up opportunities for us to counterattack."
Chen out, Lowe's trial continues
Schmid also addressed roster updates, noting that Panamanian center back Roberto Chen was no longer training with the team. "Something might change, but for now we're moving forward," said Schmid. "We didn't want to hold him up, as well. It's a thing now of what are we going to do in terms of a couple of positions and we didn't want to take away opportunities for him."
Defender Damion Lowe's trial with Minnesota United FC also continued in Portland, where the team is currently participating in a preseason tournament. "They asked to see him on trial and we agreed and he agreed," said Schmid. "It continues through tonight [Saturday]."
The Sounders head south for the second leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 2 (5 p.m. PT; FS2/SoundersFC.com, El Rey 1360AM) before returning to Seattle for the team's MLS regular season home opener against Sporting Kansas City on March 6 (4 p.m. PT; FS1/KIRO 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM).