The Seattle Sounders held their first day of preseason training in Tucson, Ariz., on Monday, and the main focus was on integrating newcomers into a side coming off its first MLS Cup title.


“It’s nice to get to know the new guys on the team,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan. [Harry Shipp, Will Bruin and new acquisition Gustav Svensson for instance] are good players and experienced. That’s what we need on this team. As of late, we are pretty young, and those guys will add depth.”


Svensson, who the Sounders signed on Monday, will be a great fit in the midfield for head coach Brian Schmetzer, who likes Svensson’s vision and how composed he is on the ball. At 6-feet tall, he also brings more height and versatility to a rather small defensive midfield group.


“The joke when we introduced [Svensson] was that we’re trading in one Swede for another,” Schmetzer said, referencing the departure of midfielder Erik Friberg for his native Sweden during the offseason. “[Svensson] has big shoes to fill because Erik was great for us. [Svensson] is integrating into the team well. We have high expectations for him.”



Svensson will try and help the 2017 Sounders repeat as MLS champions, but it will be no easy task given the amount of turnover and the parity-filled nature of the league. Schmetzer only mentioned last year’s title win to his current team to remind the players that the 2015 MLS Cup Final participants, the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew SC, each did not make the playoffs the following season.


The team’s mentality is solely focused on the year ahead and the challenges that await.


“It’s the same goal, but at the end of the day, we understand that we won last year and that that’s behind us,” said Roldan. “We have to look forward to this year and be hungry for more trophies.”

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