February 19, 2020
7:02 p.m. CT – Settled into our hotel in Honduras, today was last full day before we begin the season tomorrow evening. The hotel has been fantastic with solid food and rooms, and the players were able to do a pool activation in the afternoon. In the evening, we made our way to the stadium for our final training session. It was humid with looming dark clouds, but it never rained. Brian Schmetzer and Cristian Roldan both participated in a pre-practice press conference, and the group spent a little over an hour under the lights.
February 18, 2020
6:39 p.m. CT – Travel day! This morning, we left campus and drove about 90 minutes to Toluca for our flight to Honduras. We were in the air for two hours before arriving in San Pedro Sula, home of Thursday's Concacaf Champions League match. There is a defined focus around the group and it's evident that we've turned the page from preseason. We'll be training at the stadium tomorrow evening.
February 17, 2020
3:39 p.m. CT – That's a wrap on preseason! After a stint in Long Beach and another 10 days in Mexico, the Sounders have finished the preparation stage ahead of the 2020 campaign. Tomorrow, we'll take a flight to San Pedro Sula, train there on Wednesday, and then face CD Olimpia on Thursday evening. The last couple of days have featured more 11-v-11 sessions and short-sided, possession-minded drills to focus on tactics and positioning. I admittedly couldn't see everything that went down, but a goal from Nouhou and combination play between João Paulo and Raúl Ruidíaz were two of the recent highlights. Alex Roldan has been playing at right back all camp and sparked today's best play by winning a corner, which led to Danny Leyva's assist on a goal from Justin Dhillon.
February 14, 2020
4:28 p.m. CT – At the end of the day, soccer has to be fun, right? This especially rings true at this point of camp, since we've been at this facility for a full week. Soon the team will transition into focusing on CD Olimpia, who the club faces next Thursday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, but today was about conditioning, camaraderie and competition. This morning's training session was highlighted by a variety of six-v-six relay races that featured cones, dribbling, slips and laughs. After that, there were a variety of games, ranging from soccer tennis to crossbar challenges to a modified version of horseshoes. Oh yeah, Nouhou took over Sounders FC & MLS Snapchat accounts all day. Tonight we're going to another off-site dinner -- we've learned to trust Coach Pineda's recommendations.
February 13, 2020
5:45 p.m. CT – Well that was fun! Today the team took a trip to Teotihuacán, an archeological site with two impressive pyramids, for a 90-minute bus drive to an area northeast of Mexico City. First, we climbed the Pyramid of the Sun, which is the third-largest pyramid in the world. The steps were steep, but the views were amazing. After that, we ventured over to the Pyramid of the Moon, which was surrounded by other ancient structures. Nearly an hour of exploring later, we went to an awesome restaurant called La Gruta, which was located in a cave full of candles. All in all, it was a splendid off-day. Back to soccer things tomorrow.
February 12, 2020
7:45 p.m. CT – After nearly a full week on site, we had our first real soccer matches as a pair preseason friendlies took place earlier in the day. First, the Sounders faced Club Atlético Zacatepec. First-half goals were scored by Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz, but the Rave Green allowed two second-half goals for the 2-2 result. Next, a younger group comprising First Team, Tacoma Defiance and Sounders Academy players beat Pumas UNAM U-20's 2-1 on goals from Handwalla Bwana and Danny Robles. A more in-depth recap can be found here.
February 11, 2020
4:04 p.m. CT – Good afternoon! I opted to combine the past two days because, well, not much has happened. There is definitely a "Groundhog Day" effect settling in, with a daily routine of meals, training, treatment and chill time. This altitude is no joke, considering our facility nears 8,000 feet of elevation (I ran a mile this morning and the whole "gasping for air" concept rang true). There are two scrimmages tomorrow morning at camp -- I'm sure the guys are ready to play actual matches.
February 9, 2020
10:22 a.m. CT – Back on the training field today, where the guys focused on tactical and positioning drills for the first time this week. Tom Dutra and his goalkeepers continued to do their own work on another field. With two full grass fields, the technical staff has taken full advantage of spreading out. Fully settled at camp, the players I’ve talked to have enjoyed the facility — the accommodations are nice and the food has been solid. Tonight, we’re going off-site for the first time as Gonzalo Pineda is taking the group to a nearby restaurant.
8:58 p.m. CT – Gonzalo Pineda for MVP! The restaurant he took us to, Cantina La No. 20, was very, very good, and served as enjoyable break from camp. He promised us a traditional Mexican meal, and there were definitely some confused looks as the first two plates were worms and grasshoppers. Over the course of the evening, though, we had steak, shredded chicken, shrimp tacos and more. Towards the end of the meal, a mariachi band came through for some entertainment, which led to some epic singing from Xavier Arreaga.
February 8, 2020
10:41 a.m. CT – While yesterday’s training was more of a laid-back regen session, today was the opposite. The boys were pushed through a variety of drills, which were undoubtedly strenuous in the 7,300+ feet of elevation. A Nicolás Lodeiro ball somehow bounced its way through a small gate, in which one brave soul (me) tracked it down the ravine.
One particularly entertaining moment was Gustav Svensson constantly barraging Will Bruin with a water bottle, but in this heat I’m sure The Bear didn’t mind too much. Also of note, the Sounders are currently sharing the facility with one of the Mexico’s women national teams, but there’s plenty of space on the campus.
February 7, 2020
10:33 a.m. CT – Two fresh faces joined us at breakfast this morning -- a familiar one and a new one.
Team captain Nicolás Lodeiro met up with the club after a stint in Uruguay, where he received medical attention for tendonitis. He returned to training this afternoon. He was joined by defender Yeimar Gómez Andrade, who signed with the Sounders on Monday.
2:40 p.m. CT – A day after international travel and two days removed from a 120-minute friendly against Sacramento Republic FC at CenturyLink Field, the squad enjoyed a relaxing, fun-filled training session this afternoon. Gómez Andrade was introduced to the team, while Raúl Ruidíaz was applauded for winning Seattle Sports Star Male Athlete of the Year award.
Today's highlight was a rousing game of "Head Catch," which is a longstanding Sounders tradition that features two teams, two soccer balls, and is essentially a combination of rugby and ultimate Frisbee. Jordy Delem scored the game-winning point on an assist from Joevin Jones. This was followed by a smattering of different games, where some guys did crossbar challenges from distance, while others played soccer tennis. My favorite duo had to be Gonzalo Pineda and Stefan Frei, although Jorstian Mordan and Handwalla Bwana-João Paulo were top contenders.
February 6, 2020
10:37 p.m. CT – What. A. Day.
Today was our travel day, as the players, coaches and some staff had an early-morning departure at SeaTac. After an afternoon pit stop in Dallas, we landed in Mexico City as the sun was setting on the valley below.
After gathering an entire 2.5-weeks worth of luggage and equipment, we made the hour-long bus ride to our temporary home: Centro Alto Rendimiento (CAR). The training center for Mexico's national teams, this place is a soccer sanctuary. The team will eat, breathe and train together for the next 12 days as we prepare for a busy 2020 season.