Happy 2019! After two days of training at Starfire Sports, the Seattle Sounders jetted down to Southern California for 10 days of soccer, sun and camaraderie. See below for a running timeline of the trip:
Friday, February 1
10:41 a.m. - At long last, the sessions at Soka University came to an end today. By week's end, it's evident that the guys are ready to play some competitive soccer and head home for a couple days. Today featured one of my favorite drills in which the guys all line up and have to sprint to the cones based on which direction is yelled out ("LEFT" or "RIGHT"). It gets especially humorous when they have to run in the direction opposite of what is being said. The rest of the session featured conditioning-based drills and some 11-v-11. Tomorrow morning, the Sounders scrimmage Atlanta United. There will be no stream or attendance, but we'll tweet updates from our Sounders Matchday account.
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - Uh oh... I think he's already packed 😑
Thursday, January 31
11:01 a.m. - Brr! A storm moved into Orange County this morning, darkening the skies and dropping the temperature by 20 degrees. The guys went through more conditioning drills and mobility-based exercises, then capped it off with a light jog just as the rain began to come down. We only have one day left of training at Soka University.
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - Double-Double, Animal Style
Wednesday, January 30
10:55 a.m. - Yesterday, the coaches said that today would be the hardest session of the week and it didn't disappoint. There was a big focus on one-on-one drills, with wide players attacking fullbacks and finding strikers in the center of the area for the finish. They wrapped up with an 11-v-11 session, which featured a nice goal from Handwalla Bwana. Of note, back home the club announced the rebrand for the USL side, Tacoma Defiance. The contingent of S2 players in camp watched the announcement together (below).
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - Still hasn't gotten taller, but it could be a delayed growth spurt.
Tuesday, January 29
10:44 a.m. - After the off day, we returned to Soka University for another day of training. It was a little cooler today with a breeze and our first bit of cloud coverage. Follow the club’s High Performance Director Damian Roden on Twitter for more updates on daily drills. Today he wrote:
OC Day 5: short duration technical (re-introduction) training session ... activation, hip mobility warm up, extensive passing exercise, possession games to help players get moving again yet maintain freshness in preparation for intense conditioning training on Day 6
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - Keeping it local.
Monday, January 28
OFF DAY! The guys were rewarded with a well-deserved day of lots of relaxation and no organized soccer drills. Some of the staff went paddle boarding in the water (I opted for Disneyland), while other guys relaxed at the hotel and went off-site to find food. Throughout the day, Jordan McCrary took over our Instagram Stories to show us what he was up to.
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - Werk Werk Werk Werk Werk.
Sunday, January 27
10:53 a.m. - For the third consecutive day, we arrived at Soka University for training. The most notable part of the session came at the end, in which intensely competitive rounds of 5-vs-5 played out on two fields. Although it was admittedly difficult to watch both matches simultaneously, it was good to see Henry Wingo make a pair of nice goals and Raúl Ruidíaz notch a banger from distance.
12:20 p.m. - The squad had a recovery session in the pool on campus following training. It seemed like a relaxing time until the staff brought out six massive inflatables, which resulted in a euphoric, chaotic scene of splashes and smiles.
Afternoon - Between the training session and the epic scene in the pool, it was a competitive couple of hours. After another lunch outside in the beautiful sun, the hotel staff set up some yard games for the team to play, such as a Jenga and corn hole. The guys were on their own for the rest of the day and were encouraged to watch Cristian Roldan play in the U.S. friendly against Panama.
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - A quick dip.
Saturday, January 26
10:55 a.m. - Back to the grind at Soka University today, and we were greeted with a nice breeze. A few fans gathered on the far side of the field to watch training, which featured the week’s first 11-v-11 drills. Víctor Rodríguez, Will Bruin and Raúl Ruidíaz all found the back of the net, with another highlight coming from Jordan Morris’ burst of speed down the right flank.
Afternoon - It was another relaxing day back at home base. After lunch, the guys had down time and were able to rest, in addition to a gym session before dinner. Of note, it was Gustav Svensson’s first full day with the group after arriving yesterday afternoon, to Chad's delight.
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - Sleep tight.
Friday, January 25
10:09 a.m. - After a team breakfast, the squad piled into shuttles and made the drive to Soka University for training. At the campus, which is located in the hills of Aliso Viejo, a soccer field basked in the sun and overlooked the valley below. The guys partook in the first session of the trip, using the entire field for separate conditioning-based drills to work on their fitness. Afterwards the team cooled down in the pool for another competitive round of their favorite game.
Who's gonna get it first?! 😂 pic.twitter.com/oSr87kv8kO— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) January 25, 2019
2:15 p.m. - Back at the hotel, the squad returned for team lunch. One of the best anecdotes of the trip has been the way the veterans have bonded with the teenagers. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer has paired each young S2 player with one of the older guys. Ruidíaz continues to post about hanging out with the prospects.
BobbleSchmetz Photo of the Day - What a view!
Thursday, January 24
10:15 a.m. - A big group of Sounders boarded the plane for California, including a large contingent of Sounders Academy players. From the onset, it's evident the influence of having big-name players mingle with the young guys will be monumental. Raúl Ruidíaz in particular was having fun hanging out with 16-year-old Ray Serrano. Also, shoutout to Henry Wingo for being an overall pleasant person to share a row with and for taking an awesome photo of Mt. Saint Helens.
12:50 p.m. - Sunshine! We arrived in California and made our way to the hotel. Without checking the weather back home, the guys were definitely stoked to be eating lunch outside with a view of the ocean.
Mid-Late Afternoon - After lunch, the guys had a few hours to rest before an early-evening pool workout. This was followed by another team meal for dinner, and just like that Day 1 of preseason is in the books. We'll head to Soka University tomorrow morning for our first soccer workout of the trip.