Seattle Sounders test out new CenturyLink Field turf, prepare for match against Vancouver Whitecaps

Alex Roldan CLink training

Ahead of the team’s first MLS home match since May 15 on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM; TICKETS), the Seattle Sounders trained at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, testing out the recently replaced field turf.

The initial reviews of the new surface that rolled in after practice from players and coaches were overwhelmingly positive.

“The blades stick up a little bit more, [the ball] rolls truer,” said Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “It’ll be better for the athletes because it’s not hard, so they’re not running on a hard surface.”

Seattle Sounders test out new CenturyLink Field turf, prepare for match against Vancouver Whitecaps -

The team enjoyed testing out CenturyLink Field's new turf  | Charis Wilson

Seattle Sounders left back Brad Smith, who, prior to his stint in Seattle, had not played on turf since his days in the Liverpool FC Academy, shared a similar sentiment.

“When I heard that it was changing, I was pretty excited to come and try it before the game because, obviously, you don’t want to step out into the unknown,” said Smith. “The ball runs well on it. I’m happy that it’s changed. It feels more spongey. I feel like the ball runs a little bit smoother.”

While the team is looking forward to playing on the revamped playing surface, the players are even more excited to return to MLS action on Saturday, when they’ll host their Cascadia rival.

The team’s form dipped during a four-game road stretch entering the international break. Cognizant of the club’s rich history of winning, the players and staff view the Week 17 matchup as an opportunity to reach the lofty standards they’ve set for themselves.

“We’re undefeated at home, we have great confidence at home and we’re very excited to be out here with a bigger crowd,” said Smith. “It should be a good game and we want to get a result for the fans.”

Having recovered from a knock he sustained during the team’s away match in Kansas City, center back Kim Kee-hee will be available for selection this weekend. With Román Torres still competing in the Gold Cup, defender Saad Abdul-Salaam could have his number called for the rivalry game.

According to Schmetzer, Abdul-Salaam’s conversion from right back to center back this season has added a new dimension to the team’s already talented back line.

“There are little nuances at [center back] that are tremendously important,” Schmetzer said. “[Abdul-Salaam has] picked some of those up. I can always say that I have great coaches, and Djimi [Traore] has worked long and hard with him to get the nuances of that position. So, it’s all credit to Djimi and the kid.”

Between the new turf and a reinforced roster — Jordy Delem and Joevin Jones have also returned from the Concacaf Gold Cup — the Sounders are poised for a strong performance on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to celebrate Chad Marshall’s career and take advantage of all the Pride Match activities.



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