After a resounding victory over UCLA in its first friendly of the 2015 preseason, Sounders FC has multiple sources of motivation heading into the second one.
The obvious incentive for the Rave Green to pick up another win on Friday is their opponent, LA Galaxy, which ousted Seattle from the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs a little more than two months ago. For both sides, this will be the first test of the year against MLS competition.
According to forward Chad Barrett, however, what really motivates the players during February is the potential of going undefeated during the preseason. They did it last year, winning six preseason matches and drawing their other three. Both years Seattle has gone unbeaten in preseason friendlies – 2014 and 2012 – the club went on to reach the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final and Western Conference Championship.
“That really spoke volumes when we went into the league,” Barrett said of going undefeated in the 2014 preseason. “We felt like we couldn’t be beaten. That was a good thing going into the season.”
Last year, that momentum helped Sounders FC jump into first place early in the regular season. The club would eventually overcome the Galaxy late in October to clinch its first Supporters’ Shield.
“Pretty much all it’s about though is building chemistry and building relationships on and off the field,” Barrett added. “I think we’re doing a really good job of that.”
Friday’s matchup with the Galaxy is set to kick off at 11:30 a.m. in Carson, Calif. This week, both teams look a bit different than they will next fall in their only matchup of the season at CenturyLink Field. All-Star forward Clint Dempsey will not be in the Seattle lineup on Friday as he is still with the U.S. National Team, while Designated Player Steven Gerrard is to join LA over the summer.
That doesn’t mean the two rivals won’t be expending their energy to earn a victory.
“The Galaxy being a team we have history with, it will be a good game,” said Lamar Neagle, who has spent time at forward in Dempsey’s absence. “It’s just one more measuring stick for preseason.”
In the first preseason friendly, Head Coach Sigi Schmid used two different 11-man lineups, one for each half. He says it’s likely Seattle will do the same against LA, as the main objective is for the core group of players to gradually regain its fitness.
“We just want to get another good run of fitness against the Galaxy,” Schmid said. “We’ll play two groups again. It might be a little bit different than the two groups we played [against UCLA].”