Younger players look to veterans for leadership, support during preseason

16x9 preseason 1.23

The Seattle Sounders organization is accustomed to success year after year.

A main contributor of that is the leadership and veteran support that fuels the squad’s undeniable chemistry, creating a competitive advantage against other clubs around the league.

“It is a huge part of the vets’ job,” said midfielder João Paulo. “It’s not about just coming here, training, playing and going home. We need to try to teach [the younger players] what we learned from these long years of pro soccer.”

The veterans’ role in preparing their younger counterparts begins as early as the first day of preseason training.

“It's about setting the standards and creating a good culture and good environment to thrive as a team,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan.

Whether it be newcomers to the Seattle squad or players still trying to get their footing after a season or two, the vets’ advice, support and overall leadership for those adjusting to the professional soccer environment is vital in creating an atmosphere that allows the team to grow collectively and individually.

“I'm here to be a resource as much as compete against these guys and I want what's best for them and I want what's best for the team,” added Roldan. “So, whatever that takes, I'll take on that challenge.”

Defenders Jonathan Bell and Nathan are among the fresh faces on the team who are looking toward the established players for a sense of direction as they undergo their transition to the Sounders.

“They’ve helped me a lot, João Paulo\] and [Léo \[Chú\], and the other guys as well,” said Nathan. “It’s not an easy move to another club, but they are making the transition smooth.”

This also applies to the hand-selected Tacoma Defiance and Academy players who are challenged with the opportunity to train with the First Team during the preseason.

“We've got some 15- and 16-year-old kids out there [at training], and we'll keep them here for the entire Seattle camp,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. It's always been one of our ambitions at the club to get youth players up into the First Team, and it all starts with giving them the experiences earlier on.”

While it is beneficial for the younger group to be mentored by the likes of João Paulo, Jordan Morris, Stefan Frei and more, these long-time professionals are also looking toward the newcomers to make a significant impact in the upcoming 2024 MLS season.

“With the experience that we lost, we need to replace that,” said Roldan. “So, we expect a lot from guys that come in.”



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