Hello from the bubble! Thanks for stopping by and checking out our daily journal from Orlando, which is presented by WaFd Bank—the Exclusive Bank of Sounders FC.
My name is Danny, and I am the Manager of Social Media for the Sounders. As the only staffer from our content team who will be in the bubble for the MLS is Back Tournament, I will do my best to update everyone on the behind-the-scenes action of what this journey has in store.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Go Sounders!
July 20, 2020
10:30 p.m. ET - We're staying in the bubble! Sunday was a really, really long day, but ultimately it was worth it as we defeated Vancouver 3-0 to secure advancement to the Knockout Round. With a 10:30 p.m. kickoff, it was well after midnight by the time the match wrapped up (and I didn't even eat "dinner" until after 2 a.m.). Jordan Morris, who recorded a goal, an assist and drew a foul that led to a converted penalty, was the star of the show. If we lost the match, we would have been back in Seattle by Monday evening. Instead, the squad spent the day relaxing and recovering from the match. I went to a pool-side restaurant at the hotel and ate my first cheeseburger in weeks. It was delightful.
Also, congratulations to Joshua Atencio for making his MLS debut vs. the Whitecaps! The 18-year-old midfielder has a bright future ahead after signing his Homegrown contract prior to the tournament.
July 18, 2020
11:41 p.m. ET - Happy Saturday! In the bubble, though, it's hard to tell what day it is. All that really matters is that tomorrow is matchday, and at this stage we can secure advancement to the next round with a win against our Cascadia rival. After another set of testing, the squad worked out in the gym, hit the pool for a little bit and watched some film. Our training wasn't until 9:30 p.m. PT, but the guys had plenty of positive vibes (thanks to Raúl Ruidíaz, who was bumping music during warmups). One highlight was Djimi Traore nutmegging Ethan Dobbelaere during a drill, while Handwalla Bwana and Shandon Hopeau showed brilliance with flashy goals.
July 17, 2020
11:11 p.m. ET - We're trying our best to prepare for Sunday's 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff, which meant a slow start to the day and ending with an evening training session. We've actually been pretty lucky in avoiding the rain during practice, but it finally caught up to us today. There were ominous dark clouds everywhere, and we started training with the expectation it would start pouring any minute. The squad had just started their beloved 5-v-2 drill when it began to pour, which sent the coaches and staff under cover, but the players continued. Once a lightning bolt flashed above us followed by a near immediate crack, we collectively sprinted to the busses, along with the other teams training at the time. After nearly an hour, we returned to the field to finish our training session. Oh yeah, Djmi Traore showed off a few tricks.
July 16, 2020
9:50 p.m. ET - Some really good energy from the guys today, including (almost) a duet from Justin Dhillon and Raúl Ruidíaz of The Backstreet Boys. After a lighter load yesterday, the squad was in the gym in the afternoon and then went into the lap pool. We had an evening training session, including some more soccer tennis, and then ended the night at the steakhouse on-site. After two weeks of the same chicken and fish, a 16 oz. New York was perfect. Also of note, another team brought this remote-controlled alligator boat. It’s incredible.
July 15, 2020
9:21 p.m. ET - A day after a loss can be a challenging time in the bubble, especially since it's difficult to find something to take your mind off the game a little bit. We didn't have training today, and we were granted more free time than any other day this trip. Free time in the bubble basically just means more time to relax in your air-conditioned room. Some guys went to the pool, but it rained most of the day and we had testing in the mid-afternoon. With a few days of training before Sunday's do-or-die match, it will be interesting to see if there will be a palpable sense of focus from the group. It's a proud, competitive squad who won't want to be eliminated by a rival.
July 14, 2020
8:30 p.m. ET - Yesterday feels like a bit of a blur, and there's no point diving too deep into it. To get our bodies ready for the early match the following morning, we had testing at 7 a.m. followed by a training session and then the guys laid low the rest of the day. For today, the squad had another early wake up call for this morning's match against the Chicago Fire. Unfortunately, some costly defensive miscues led to a 2-1 loss, with Handwalla Bwana scoring the lone goal for the Rave Green. Full attention turns to Sunday, where it's looking like a win-or-go-home situation against Vancouver. Of note, Assistant Coach Djimi Traore reminded fans who were watching the match together via Zoom, "We are the champions, and every team will treat matches against us like it's a final." It certainly felt like that today.
July 12, 2020
10:22 p.m. ET - Whew, another long day. As we transition to preparing for Tuesday's 9 a.m. ET kickoff against Chicago, the squad had a much earlier training session and featured some soccer tennis. This has perhaps been the hardest part of the entire trip: just a couple days ago we were eating team "dinner" well after midnight, and then it's a quick turnaround to breakfast and a morning session.
Notably, Stefan Cleveland's nickname of "Grover" - given by Will Bruin - seems to have stuck, as a nod to the 22nd U.S. President (and another goalkeeper already named Stefan). Grover appears to be the most accomplished swimmer on the team, as as handful guys (namely Xavier Arreaga, Handwalla Bwana and Shane O'Neill) have tried to swim the length of the pool entirely underwater, which Cleveland can do with ease. For dinner, we ventured to the seafood restaurant in the hotel, where we had shrimp, scallops and, by far, the best bread of the trip.