Obafemi Martins

Sounders head back to Seattle feeling prepared after Desert Diamond Cup play

Clint Dempsey vs SKC 150301

As the players and technical staff acknowledged afterward, Sounders FC was not at its best during the early portion of Saturday night’s match. It allowed a goal in the first 10 minutes and was admittedly outplayed by Sporting Kansas City until about the 25-minute mark.

The Rave Green would fight back, however, tying the game in the second half and coming close to scoring a winner on numerous occasions. In the end, Sounders FC settled for a 1-1 draw in its final match of the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup.

The team will depart Tucson “with a decent taste in our mouth,” as captain Brad Evans put it.

“We pressed, got our goal and kept pressing,” Evans said. “I feel no different now than I have with this team. I’m very confident. Moving forward, we’ll continue to get better.”

Seattle finished 2-3-2 for the preseason, scoring 17 goals and conceding nine in its seven official friendlies. The team is traveling back to the Emerald City on Sunday, a week before it will take on the New England Revolution to open its 2015 regular-season campaign.

Sounders FC’s starting XI for the New England match will likely be very similar to the one employed by Head Coach Sigi Schmid on Saturday. The lineup included All-Star forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, who combined to produce Seattle’s goal in the 60th minute and several other scoring chances late in the game.

The lineup also included Evans, who has adjusted nicely to his new role at centerback. 

“Today I was very comfortable. I didn’t feel out of place,” he said after the match. “And I think it’s a great time to be feeling that way, a week out from the home opener.” 

Evans was one of the nine starters that played all 90 minutes on Saturday. The club’s only substitutions came with just over 20 minutes remaining, when Andy Rose and Aaron Kovar replaced Lamar Neagle and Marco Pappa in the midfield.

“I think we’re where we need to be, fitness-wise,” Schmid said on Saturday. 

The next time Schmid’s side takes the field, it will be walking onto the Xbox Pitch in front of thousands of fans at CenturyLink Field. Heading into the 2015 MLS campaign, Sounders FC is aiming to repeat and even surpass the success it had last season.

“What we want to do is be a team that competes for the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup,” Schmid said. “We have never missed the playoffs in our existence, and we don’t intend to this year.”

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