The Sounders FC will face the Colorado Rapids Thursday in their final prep for the season opener next week against the New York Red Bulls. The technical rehearsal will mimic the regular season opener with everything from pre-game preparation to the final whistle matching the game-time scenario. With the lone exception being the empty stands at Qwest Field.
Head coach Sigi Schmid has several goals for the game, including measuring fitness and competition level.
“We’re trying to push guys 90 minutes, so looking at where we are fitness-wise,” Schmid said. “We’ve played two MLS teams right now in preseason and I think we’ve compared favorably with both teams that we’ve played. Colorado has had a good run of games in the preseason and seems to have done fairly well. So for us, it will give us a good look and a chance to measure ourselves as to where we’re at.”
The Sounders FC are 7-2-1 in the preseason, with a 1-1 record against MLS teams after a win over the LA Galaxy and a loss to the San Jose Earthquakes while on their training tour in California.
Schmid will be looking to solidify some final roles and rotations for the start of the Sounders FC’s inaugural season while providing another opportunity for the club to get accustomed to the dimensions of the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
“What’s good about being able to train here consistently is getting used to the spacial surroundings,” Schmid said. “By knowing where the stands and the walls are in relation to the sidelines, it makes you more comfortable with those sight lines.”
As for the starting lineup, Schmid was coy about how closely the opening lineup will resemble the lineup tomorrow night.
“We have an idea where we’re going, but we’re an expansion team so we have to keep things mysterious,” he said with a grin.
Two players who likely will be available in the regular season opener who won’t be available tomorrow are Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg. Montero is in South America dealing with personal contractual issues with his agent and is slated to return to the club on Friday. Ljungberg, meanwhile is not quite set for game action after off-season hip surgery. He may be ready for the season opener, Schmid said, though only in a substitute role.
The rest of the team looks to be ready for the bright lights of the season opener, though Schmid won’t fully commit to that notion until he sees it on March 19.
“I think they’re ready,” he said. “But you never know for sure until you play the real game. Until all the nerves hit and all the pressure’s there you never know.”
The technical rehearsal against Colorado is closed to the public and the media.
NOTES – The Sounders FC will play a reserve game against the Seattle Wolves on Friday morning at Qwest Field, with players who do not play in Thursday night’s training game making up the reserve roster.