Sounders FC has finished the first trip of training camp and is already in a better position than it was when it left for Arizona on January 29.
Riding a stingy defense and some opportunistic attacking chances, Seattle went 3-0-1 in the four matches played on the Tucson leg of preseason training. But beyond the results on the field, Sounders FC also came away with a much fitter group, added a new weapon in the midfield and saw some non-roster players who have a chance to make an impact for Seattle in 2014.
“We’re happy with it. We’ve managed a way to get through the games, get the wins and play to zero (against Portland),” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “One of the things we wanted to do was to be more consistent in our defensive efforts and I think we definitely achieved that. And I think our movement off the ball is getting better all the time and it will continue to get better.”
Seattle bested the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in both meetings by a score of 2-1, also beating the San Jose Earthquakes by the same score line and playing to a scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers.
While preseason results aren’t critical to regular season accomplishments, early victories can be important for a team loaded with new acquisitions like Seattle.
“Winning is huge. That’s something we want to put into our DNA is being a winning team and being upset when we don’t win,” midfielder Andy Rose said. “Getting three wins out of four is a great start for us, but there’s much more in terms of just getting to know each other and there seems to be a really good feeling around the camp.”
Seattle had eight different players register a goal or an assist in the five matches, highlighted by two goals each from Obafemi Martins and non-roster invitee Kevin Parsemain. Rose also had one goal and two assists while Chad Barrett and Dylan Remick also added two assists apiece.
Martins paired well with new teammate Kenny Cooper and Marco Pappa showed his deft ball skills in his one appearance after joining the team on Saturday, February 1. Additionally, Lamar Neagle and Tristan Bowen showed their speed on the wings and once Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin returned from U.S. National Team camp, Seattle’s wealth of talent was nearing full display.
Parsemain is among those looking to add to Seattle’s depth. The 25-year-old forward has spent time in the lower divisions in France and has been a star for the Martinique National Team, netting 23 goals in 32 appearances.
“He’s a little bit different than some of the other forwards we have,” Schmid said. “He wants the ball on the ground.”
Another experienced player looking to add his talented credentials to the Sounders FC roster is Gonzalo Pineda. The 31-year-old midfielder has starred for UNAM Pumas and Chivas de Guadalajara while also accumulating 44 caps for Mexico.
Pineda joined the Sounders late last week and played 45 minutes on Sunday in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC to close out the trip.
“You can tell he is an experienced player,” Schmid said. “You can see the skill and the thinking, the tactical awareness, is something that he’s very good at.”
Sounders FC returns to training on Wednesday and will make one more preseason trip, facing the Charleston Battery, Houston Dynamo and DC United in the Carolina Challenge Cup. The team will depart for South Carolina on February 19 and return to Seattle on March 2.