First Kick 2013 fast approaching as preseason begins

Believe it or not, the Sounders are back and the 2013 MLS regular season isn't too far behind...

The Sounders FC had lofty goals for the 2012 season.  And while they are pleased that they were able to advance to the Western Conference Final, the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and a fourth consecutive US Open Cup final, they felt they have unfinished business.

This morning at 10 a.m., the Sounders return to the training field at Starfire for the first time in the 2013 season with an eye on even greater goals.

They have experience in the Champions League quarterfinals now, and will use that to their advantage against Tigres when the quarterfinal round starts on March 6 in Monterrey, Mexico.

They have also advanced to the brink of the MLS Cup final, only to be thwarted by a bad result on the road against the LA Galaxy.

With a large portion of their core remaining intact, training camp kicks off at Starfire before a brief stop at the Seahawks training facility at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center late in the week and a trip to their now customary preseason home in Casa Grande, Arizona.  After eight days there, they will play their first preseason match against the Portland Timbers in Tucson, Arizona, before returning to Seattle.  On February 11, they will head back to the Grand Canyon State to resume training camp in Tucson, centered around matches in the Desert Diamond Cup against the New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls.

All leading up to March 2 when the Sounders will host the Montreal Impact at CenturyLink Field in the team’s 2013 MLS regular season opener.

Training camp will feature the familiar faces of goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who finished the 2012 season with the best goals against average in MLS; Mauro Rosales, who matched his club record of 13 assists; Christian Tiffert, who came from Germany to bring balance to the midfield; Steve Zakuani, who returned to his superstar form as the season closed in Seattle last year; and Osvaldo Alonso, who is back after a short training stint with West Ham United coming off of an MLS Best XI season in 2012.

Several Sounders serving national team duty will return throughout training camp, including Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans (United States), Adam Johansson (Sweden), and Mario Martinez (Honduras).

Although two key players from the Sounders over the last four years--Fredy Montero and Jeff Parke--will not be there, there will be opportunities for rookies DeAndre Yedlin – the club’s first ever Homegrown Player – and the 10th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft Eriq Zavaleta to prove they belong at the MLS level.

Time will tell what the future holds for Sounders FC in 2013. The journey begins on this morning at Starfire.