Despite a shortened preseason, the Seattle Sounders’ cohesion is undeniable leading up to the team’s first FIFA Club World Cup match in Morocco on Saturday (9:30 a.m. PT | FOX 13+, FS2, FOX Deportes) — and the players hope to use that to their advantage come game-time.
Given the number of veterans on the Rave Green roster, midfielder Cristian Roldan emphasized the immediate chemistry the team provides every time they step onto the pitch.
“It really helps us gel together and helps us compete in these types of tournaments,” said Roldan.
The Sounders motivation from the very first day of preseason has also played a part in its continuity leading up to this weekend.
“We've had four weeks to prepare, but each and every player put in the work in the offseason to stay fit and have a good foundation to be able to work hard in these four weeks,” added Roldan.
While the Sounders enter the tournament with only a month of preparation time versus its opponents coming into the tournament mid-season, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said the team has been receptive during training.
“My job has been pretty easy this year, preseason wise, because the players are really in tune and really listening to all of our instructions because they understand the importance of this opportunity,” said Schmetzer.
The Sounders’ strong mentality during training sessions has been a contributing factor in the team’s quick response to new tactics, and Schmetzer hopes the team’s performance can reflect that this weekend.
“We will have to rely on our grit, our determination, and we will have to play smart, because those teams have had a head start on us.” said Schmetzer. “We will have to conserve energy and put our foot on the gas when the opportunities present themselves.”
The core of the Sounders knows the feeling of emerging victorious on the biggest stages; through two MLS Cup titles, and most recently winning Concacaf Champions League, these veterans are looking to contribute to another historic moment on Saturday. And with the latest addition of former New York City FC forward Héber and the continued growth of the younger players on the squad, the team is confident its talent will benefit them in a big way.
“We’ve prepared for this moment,” said Roldan. “We're getting better each and every day with our tactics and the way we want to play, and I think that's the most important thing going into our first game at the Club World Cup.”