While almost every team across Major League Soccer prepares for the upcoming season with intra-squad scrimmages and fitness-focused friendlies against other domestic competition, the Seattle Sounders enter the 2023 campaign fresh off an appearance on the global stage.
Although the Sounders’ time at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco ended early, falling 1-0 to Egypt’s Al Ahly on a late goal, Seattle started the season with a competitive mindset. As the team prepares for its MLS opener on Sunday, Feb. 26, against the Colorado Rapids (5 p.m. PT; FS1, Apple TV | TICKETS), it’s hoping to hit the ground running.
“It definitely gives us a boost,” defender Alex Roldan said of the early litmus test. “We’re going into the season a little more confident, a little more fluid in terms of how our game is going to progress.
“We’re devastated with how it ended, in an unfortunate way,” he continued. “We put in so much for that first game, and to come home like that is tough. We’re shifting our mentality into MLS play now, and the boys are excited to get the season going and start off on the right foot.”
The Sounders enter the new season after an up-and-down 2022 that saw them make history by becoming the first MLS club to win the modern iteration of the Concacaf Champions League (and thus entrance into the FIFA Club World Cup) but also miss the postseason for the first time in their 14-year MLS history.
While the Sounders became the first MLS team to summit that elusive peak, they are eager to climb it yet again and are fully determined to earn their trip back there.
“Whenever you suffer defeat in that manner, you’re left wanting more,” said Roldan. “We believe that we’re the type of club that belongs in a situation like that, in a tournament so prestigious like that. In order to get back to that position, it all starts with MLS. Setting ourselves up for success in MLS is important and the best way for us to get back to competing in global tournaments.”
An added benefit of the early preseason was extra bonding time. The Sounders did not turn over much of its roster from its CCL-winning side and also get the added return of midfielders João Paulo and Obed Vargas, two key pieces of their tournament run that missed most of the remainder of last season due to injury.
Seattle is hoping this quality time spent together can propel the team forward after the Club World Cup disappointment and start the MLS season with something to prove.
“We’re a tight-knit group looking to play for one another,” said Roldan. “Everybody on this roster is bought in.”
Added midfielder Danny Leyva: “We didn’t get to where we wanted to be in the Club World Cup, but we learned from that and we’re ready for the season…We’re going to use that as fuel for the upcoming MLS season and the rest of the year.”