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Sounders Training Opens with 9 v 9 Games and Local Return

Steve Zakuani and team return to training today. The goal is simple - score more, win more, lift a trophy.
Steve Zakuani and team return to training today. The goal is simple - score more, win more, lift a trophy.

Today there were nearly 40 players in Seattle Sounders first day of full camp. All outfield players present participated in the warm-ups and stretching while Pat Noonan, Taylor Graham and Nate Jaqua missed the 9 v 9 and other mini-games. Terry Boss had recent surgery and only lightly participated in some of the keeping drills proir to the mini-games.

Lamar Neagle, former Sounder, former USSF D3 MVP with Charleston Battery and current Mariehamn of Finland forward is back for a while and the once future right back was up top in the games.

Julien Baudet was not present as his contract negotiations are still on-going.

As we start to read tea leaves to figure out who will be the First Kick starters we can take a look at a few of the most competitive roles. Since it was 9 v 9 each of the 3 sides played a 3-3-2.

Left Back featured Leo Gonzalez, Danny Earls, Tyson Wahl and a trialist.
Center Mid had Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (full action today), Michael Seamon and Eric Friberg
Center Back had Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke and Juan Cruz

Alvaro Fernandez was on the right, while Mike Fucito was up top. Michael Tetteh played as a left midfielder.

Keeping track of two games of short field 9 v 9 can be difficult. Neagle scored, as did O'Brian White and Tetteh.

It was impressive seeing that both of the young keepers, Bryan Meredith and Josh Ford, give interviews and while the rest of the team went to the locker room they worked together to get better and share their knowledge. If the Sounders carry only 3 keepers one will not make the final roster. They have to know this, and yet they worked together.

Links to Interviews:

Juan Cruz with Sounder at Heart
Danny Earls with Prost Amerika
Kasey Keller and Steve Zakuani as covered by Joshua Mayers of Seattle Times

I'm certain more will appear from other outlets over time. A story on Brad Evans return will be upcoming here, as well as an interview with Josh Ford. Jeremiah will have stories on Akron (featuring Zakuani) and the lower divisions of US soccer with Adrian Hanauer.

Sigi Schmid as transcribed by Brian Floyd below the break

Sigi Schmid

Opening comments.
Everyone's gonna come out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. The guys who have done work will feel pretty good tomorrow. The guys who haven't done a lot of work are gonna wake up tomorrow morning and say what did I do yesterday. I thought the spirit was good, I thought the intensity was good. Everybody showed up to play.

On making the roster.
It's gonna be difficult. We talked about that and said how much different is this than two years ago. As you're building a team that's what it's gonna take. Now you're looking for somebody who has something a little special. Somebody who adds something that maybe you're missing or don't have. I think some guys have shown that. We've gotta add some guys anyway because our roster expands so I feel pretty good about the quality of the players that we're looking at to fill those spots

On what the team is looking for.
You never know what the something special is. Maybe it's a guy who finishes well. Maybe it's a guy who's able to take somebody off the dribble and get a cross in. Maybe it's a guy who just makes really good defensive plays. Maybe a guy who's really good at heading. It could be somebody who just has good vision and connects his passes. It's not like you're only looking for a special trait. You're looking for someone who adds something, but that might be a different quality depending on the player.

Obviously Nate Jaqua is still recovering right now and Noonan is still recovering. We want to see how Blaise feels tomorrow. O'Brian White is somebody that we're trying to bring him along fitness wise. Today's the first day he went through a whole training even though he came in earlier. I think he looked sharp, as did Blaise, and I think we just gotta build up their fitness at the right time. Injury wise it's only Jaqua and Taylor Graham has a bit of an issue.

On if this team is in a better place on the injury front
Well we got some injuries early last season after we started play. I think going in we're about the same, with the exception of Jaqua who had an injury we're not making any real good forward progress. This year, he's had the surgery and we know exactly what it is, he's exactly where he should be at this point. We can continue to build on it. Overall, I think we're healthy.

On Hurtado
It's the same sort of thing with him coming off the length of time he was injured -- today's his first practice. When we get down to Arizona and start doing double-days, he'll probably do one training with us and then the other training he'll do something else. Same thing with Brad Evans. All the guys who are sorted easing their way back into it. It's a mistake when you've been out for that amount of time to say you're gonna do what everyone else has done and then all of a sudden they break down with something else. We'll ease them back into it and give them the appropriate work.

On players that stood out
Yeah, but that's for me to keep. Like I said, there's some guys that can certainly play midfield, there's some guys that have shown can finish. There's a couple guys that have shown they can defense, so it's good.

On motivation and the state of the team.
This is the year now you've gotta step forward. We're one of four teams that have made the playoffs the last two years. But in four playoff games we scored one goal. So, we need to score more goals in the playoffs. To score more goals in the playoffs we've gotta score more goals in the regular season. To score more goals in the regular season you've gotta score more goals in practice. This is the year that if we don't accomplish some of the things that we feel we can accomplish you've gotta start looking at breaking up that core, so this is an important year.

On expectations
The higher expectation only comes from I think the pain in the gut is hopefully a little deeper from losing last year in the playoffs. We need to push ourselves just that little bit more. So we have to draw, not necessarily a higher expectation of ourselves, but what we need to do is demand more of ourselves, demand more of each other, demand more of our friends on the team and that's gotta be a theme that runs through the team all season.

Does year three compare to year three in Columbus?
I hope so. If it ends up that way I wouldn't complain at all. I think the first two years, we're much further along than my first two years in Columbus. But at the end of year two in Columbus, I felt we were starting to catch a good rhythm and at the end of year two here we obviously caught a good rhythm as well. I think we're comparable in a lot of ways. To win a championship you need a little bit of luck, a little bit of good fortune staying away from injuries and you need good soccer. You need all those things.

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