Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, the new Seattle Sounders FC central defender, arrived at the hotel during the team breakfast on Thursday. He smiled and circulated around the room for handshakes with his new coaches and teammates. Hurtado received a hug from his friend, Fredy Montero, who has known him for five years. The two played together at Deportivo Cali last year. Hurtado took an overnight flight from Bogota to Buenos Aires after departing Cali earlier Wednesday.
Hurtado was issued his gear and less than two hours later joined the rest of the team for a 90-minute training session, which began at 11 A.M. local time under clear skies and ended with temperatures pushing into the low 80s (Fahrenheit). The practice included extended drills with the attacking players working on crosses and finishing while defensive personnel focused on keeping possession and building out of the back.
Sounders FC will play its first training game on Friday morning (11 A.M. local, 5 A.M. PT) at Estudiantes de La Plata.
General manager Adrian Hanauer arrived at the hotel just as the team was served lunch.
Sigi Schmid and several members of his coaching and support staff will attend Thursday night’s Copa Libertadores group stage game between Estudiantes de La Plata and Bolivia’s Universitario. On Sunday, the entire team will go to the La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors, to see an Argentine first division game against Huracan. Schmid is also interested in attending training sessions held by the various Buenos Aires first division teams during the next week.
Quotes from head coach Sigi Schmid
(On how the team has responded to the travel)
“It’s gone alright. The second day is always the toughest day. The first day you’re sort of like a zombie and you just keep going, keep moving and you sort of don’t realize what you’re doing. The second day is where fatigue hits you a little bit and the time change will hit you. But the team’s done well.
“We play in a league where you go through three-hour time changes. It’s not six hours like this, but you have to adjust to it. There’s certainly a physiological adjustment, but also part of it is psychological, and in our league it’s important to deal with time changes and not let it slow you down psychologically.”
- (On how the points of emphasis while training and playing in Argentina)
“The emphasis is two-fold. One is on our collective defending because the Argentine teams are good at keeping possession. Defensively you have to be really good about keeping your shape and really good about your patience and really good about staying mentally focused because during their time of possession you can’t get exposed; you can’t get drawn apart. The second aspect is, because they hold on to the ball, you want to hold on to the ball when you get it. Otherwise you will feel like you played 75 percent of the game chasing the ball around. This will help our possession orientation because it makes you value your own possession. You realize if you don’t keep the ball, you’re going to be chasing it around for a long time. When you give it away, it will be a long time until you get it back. It works on both aspects of our game, but it’s important for us psychologically, defensively and possession-wise. That’s what we’re going to get out of these games.”
- (On attending games and training sessions)
“To watch other teams train is both fun and work. The way you learn is by always watching other teams train. You see if you can pick up something new, something different. You see how those coaches interact with their players. It’s a good learning experience, and gives you an idea how other players train, what kind of intensity, how they enjoy their training sessions.
“Watching games is a learning experience and it’s also fun. The learning experience comes from the fact that you always see more live than you do on TV. So much of the game is played without the ball and on TV all you really see is the ball. When you go to a game live, you see how high they push the line of defense, where they establish their line of defense, how the players move away from the ball, how they set-up space on the far side of the field. You see all those things by watching the game live. And I love soccer, so I love going to soccer games. You feel the atmosphere in the stadium. This will be my first Copa Libertadores game and my first game at Estudiantes. That’s the fan aspect of it: now I can say I’ve done that.”
Marshall on the keys to players recovering from extended travel
Central defender Tyrone Marshall was acquired from Toronto earlier in the month, and he is visiting his third continent in less than three weeks. Marshall played for the Jamaican National Team in London on February 11, then returned to Toronto before packing and leaving for Seattle. The flights from Seattle to Argentina totaled nearly 15 hours.
- “Basically, the keys are a lot of hydration and a lot of rest because you have to get acclimated so quickly. You definitely need to take care of those essential things, like eating well and taking advantage of the opportunities to rest and get fluids into you whenever possible.
- “Those flights are long and I’m not a good flier, first of all. At first I did some walking around on the flight and eventually I got some sleep. I’m still a little jet-lagged, but I’m getting better. I slept probably 10 hours last night so it’s nice to get out after you feel your body has rested. “
Players present for the second day of training in Argentina
- Goalkeepers (3): Evan Bush, Chris Eylander, Kasey Keller
- Defenders: Evan Brown, Taylor Graham, John Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Jared Karkas, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl
- Midfielders: Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Sebastien Le Toux, Stephen King, Sanna Nyassi, Michael Fucito, Ryan Caugherty
- Forwards: Jeff Clark, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani
- Graham (foot) remained on the sideline and Zakuani (ankle) was limited to fitness work.