Things seem to be settling in around Seattle Sounders training, with little expected to change until the team leaves for Charleston, S.C. next Wednesday. That's when the next round of cuts is expected to take place, which gives the collection of trialists about five more training sessions to make their impressions.
In case you missed it yesterday, the Sounders sent home trialists Long Tan, Tarek Morad, Dzenan Catic and Jason Morrision as well as SuperDraft pick Stefano Rijsell. They also added former Columbus Crew defender Danny O'Rourke and Panamanian youngster Omar Browne. In total, there are 27 players effectively under contract (not including Shalrie Joseph) and 11 more who are still training with the club.
Thursday's training session mostly featured squads of 10 outfield players taking turns on offense and defense. Some of the notable pairings were Chad Marshall and Jalil Anibaba together on what appeared to be the first team. Kenny Cooper remains the clear favorite to win the starting forward spot alongside Obafemi Martins, as well. Filling out that squad were Lamar Neagle and Tristan Bowen as the wide midfielders; Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso in the middle; and Djimi Traore (I think) and DeAndre Yedlin as the fullbacks. What this suggests to me is that the Sounders still aren't ready to settle on a clear first team, as I really doubt the First Kick staring lineup will look exactly like that.
Among the trialists, Gonzalo Pineda probably looked the most comfortable. The Liga MX veteran was playing centrally with what would probably be considered the second team and didn't look remotely out of place. Damion Lowe had a few shaky passes that put his goalkeeper in bad positions but also was very strong in the air. Bowen probably had the highlight of the day, as he curled in a beautiful shot from about 20 yards out.
- Jimmy Ockford was held out of training. He's apparently dealing with a slight knee injury and the Sounders are giving him a precautionary MRI to make sure that there's nothing more serious going on there.
- Marco Pappa, as you may have heard, chose to wear No. 10. He has historically worn No. 16, but with David Estrada apparently inclined to keep it, Pappa went with a bold choice rather than pick something that carried less weight. Asked about it, Sigi Schmid seemed amused: "He's been around the league, he knows what he's doing. Maybe it brings a little responsibility, guys thrive under that as well. Ten is still considered almost sacred in some circles but for me right now things have gone more to a number is a number and you go out there and play with it."