In its opening match of the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup, Sounders FC performed exactly how Head Coach Sigi Schmid was hoping his team would. Well, almost exactly.
Although the Rave Green kept FC Tucson off the board in their 6-0 victory on Wednesday, the host side had some quality scoring chances of its own during the first half. A couple of miscues by Seattle’s starters resulted in wide-open shots for Tucson from inside the penalty area.
“We gave up a few too many chances in the first half where I thought we were a little bit open,” Schmid said after the match. “…I think we’ve got to fine-tune that a little bit.”
Schmid’s club can’t afford to make those defensive mistakes in its next two games of the tournament, both of which are against MLS teams. Prior to facing the New England Revolution on Wednesday, Sounders FC clashes with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PST.
Considering his club has a couple of new starters on the backline, Schmid knows he can’t expect perfection during the preseason. In fact, he has been quite pleased with both of those new starters – Sounders veteran Brad Evans in the middle and first-year defender Tyrone Mears on the right. The two have started all three official preseason matches, and Seattle has given up just one goal.
Mears is also making an impact at the attacking end, constantly finding his way down the right wing and playing in crosses. The 32-year-old assisted on Clint Dempsey’s second goal versus FC Tucson by doing just that.
“What we felt with Tyrone is: It’s tough to replace a guy like DeAndre Yedlin, and you don’t find many guys with that kind of pace, but Tyrone has that ability to get forward,” Schmid said. “He’s an excellent crosser of the ball, and he showed that on that goal.
“He’s meshed in really well. The guys really like him. He’s a very accepted part of our team.”
Mears and the rest of the starters played about 70 minutes on Wednesday. Schmid says because the regular-season opener is just two weeks away, the projected starters will likely be on the field the majority of the time during these friendlies.
It’s not simply about fitness, though. The Sounders aim to earn a positive result every time they take the pitch, which allows them to build momentum heading into the season.
“We want to win every single game,” midfielder Gonzalo Pineda said Wednesday. “We need to win every single game to get that confidence up for the first game.”