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Seattle Sounders Training Camp Emphasizes Roster Competition Between Young And Old

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Sigi Schmid is using the Sounders' huge roster of players to try some things, including throwing his roster of youngsters and invitees straight into the fire.
Sigi Schmid is using the Sounders' huge roster of players to try some things, including throwing his roster of youngsters and invitees straight into the fire.

Before I get started with a few observations from training camp, I should introduce, or re-introduce, myself. I'm Brian and I write for CougCenter, SB Nation's WSU site, as well as SB Nation Seattle and the main SB Nation site. Dave and Jeremiah were so kind as to let me tag along to practice this week, and I made it back again today as the Sounders worked at the VMAC. I'll be randomly popping in to practices -- when they're in town, of course -- and may hop over to share some thoughts here.

I wrote about the scrimmages today over at SB Nation Seattle and the teams the players were split-up into. One team was clearly the starters, filled with players you'd expect to see in the first XI when the season starts. With a few exceptions, those roles are more-or-less set, and are likely to stay fairly static as training camp and the season progresses.

What struck me, however, was how the other two teams were formed. On one team -- the grays -- youth was served. On the other -- oranges -- it was more of a veteran-laden squad of reserves. The starters and youth scrimmaged first, followed by the starters and veteran reserves, with the youth and reserve veterans capping the practice.

With any head coach, everything is done for a reason. In this case, the reason Dave and I both arrived at independently had to do with competition. In this training camp, with almost 40 players dressed, there's a lot on the line. Younger players are looking to make a name for themselves, players are working to make the team and, among those already on the team, many are fighting for a spot in the 18.

And that's where the separation of players comes in. The competition in camp isn't youth vs. youth for those final roster spots, it's young vs. old. Watching the scrimmage, Michael Tetteh and Leone Cruz were opposite veterans such as O'Brian White and Mike Fucito. Not only is it good from a competition standpoint, but also from an experience standpoint.

Many of these players will likely spend much of their time developing together; building a rapport as they work their way up the ranks. In that regard, it's better to throw them all on one team and let them work with, not against, each other.

Not only does it give the younger players some experience together, it also gives the coaching staff a better way to evaluate the new faces. How much can you learn from a bunch of invitees scrimmaging against each other? The level of competition isn't exactly high in that case. Instead, they were up against the starters and other veterans -- a much tougher task.

It would appear the youngsters are going head-up with the veterans for roster spots. It's not a battle amongst themselves, but instead a free-for-all among those not safely in the starting XI. It's early, but keep an eye on how the youngsters fare as they begin to develop a rapport throughout camp.

Quick notes I didn't add at SBN Seattle

I'm quickly growing to love O'Brian White. He's fast -- much faster than you'd think. White finished with the second fastest 30-yard-dash time behind Steve Zakuani. For a player his size, that's pretty impressive. The pairing of White at the target spot and Fucito at the WF spot was interesting and exciting. There's a lot of speed there.

The first round, between the starters and youngsters, was scoreless, but the action opened up over the next two scrimmages. In all, three goals were scored: Steve Zakuani drilled one off the left win inside the 18 and in past Terry Boss; Eduardo Kabamba had what was easily the goal of the day, winning a ball in the air on the right wing just outside the box before hitting a laser-volley; O'Brian White had a cleanup goal after Servando Carrasco hit the crossbar.

Kabamba had an outstanding day on the right wing, but tweaked his hamstring toward the end. He finished the scrimmages, but we don't know how much it'll have an effect on him. He's on trial with the Sounders, but his speed and assassin-like shot are intriguing.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has been a full-participant, but worked with the second-team on Friday. I spoke with Jeff Parke after practice and will have something later about center back pairings and what the Sounders may do with it this year. For the record, the first team was Parke and Patrick Ianni while the second-team was Hurtado and Tyson Wahl.

* * *

I've added a depth chart going three deep based on today's scrimmages - Dave

 

 

Nkufo

White !

 

 

 

Zakuani !

Montano

Levesque

 

Montero !

Fucito

Neagle (t) - Estrada

 

Fernandez

Kabamba ! (t)

Bah (t)

 

 

Evans

Friberg

Seamon

 

 

Gonzalez

Earls

Tetteh

 

Alonso

Carrasco

Caskey -Preito (t)

 

Riley

Scott
Attaway

 

Ianni

Hurtado

Cruz

 

Parke

Wahl

Peverley (t)

 

 

 

Keller

Boss

Ford - Meredith

 

 

Injured and did not scrimmage: Jaqua, Noonan, Graham.
Bold for First XI
! - for a goal scorer
(t) - for a trailist
Two names seperated by a - played on the same team, but partial time. Except for Neagle and Estrada as I could list either as a TF.