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Training Camp Opens: Fitness, Ball Work and Games Start 2012 Off

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Abdul Aman by Chris Coulter of <a href="http://www.soundersphotos.com" target="new">SoundersPhotos.com</a>
Abdul Aman by Chris Coulter of SoundersPhotos.com

Everyone loves to know the trialists, so let's start off with the fact that Jonathan Prieto and Alex Caskey make their return to Seattle Sounders FC. Joining them are Academy Alumni Darwin Jones and two keepers in Andrew Weber (formerly of the San Jose Earthquakes) and Tyrel Lacey. The first session consisted of the draftees (except for Banton and Feighner who aren't in town yet) and a handful of returning players. Cordell Cato would seem to fit in this group when he joins the club. The near generational ice storm that canceled practice yesterday delayed a few players as well.

Session two included Michael Tetteh (now listed as D/M) and everyone else you would assume are competing to be in the starting XI regularly. The sessions were designed along the same format. Stretching, a little ball work and some small sided games. They ended with a timed series of 40 yard runs.

In session one David Estrada (playing wide, but now listed as M/D) showed great accuracy on long crosses and switches when he sent the ball across the full field opening up new angles of attack for his side. Babayele Sodade had a stellar finish. Darwin Jones (whose physique is very Fucito) had a hard tackle on one of the unnamed trialists (yes, that continues). Servando Carrasco was in this group, at one point took a blow to the back of the head, but finished out the session. Invitee keeper, Lacey gave up many goals. Most were at such angles that he could not stop them, but at least one was a floating cross/shot that he felt would go over the bar.

The most notable part of session two was the return of Steve Zakuani to the pitch in a game environment. He was wide and up top in the 3-3-1 short games played and didn't get many touches, but his beaming smile was enough to know that today was a huge step (Jeremiah will have more on Zakuani soon as he was in the Zakuani interview). Alvaro Fernandez played both wide left and in the middle of the attack three. Roger Levesque was at a right back in the condensed game. At one point Mike Fucito chased him down, gave him a shoulder bump and knocked the ball loose, but Levesque's side maintained possession.

Since the weather doesn't conduct itself to quality outdoor soccer and the team wanted to play some games (20 or more started voluntary fitness training last week, more on that later as well) practice was at the Seattle Seahawks indoor facility. It being day one there were more media than typical and dozens of interviews (full transcriptions will appear in comments as they get done).

Coach Sigi Schmid has yet to talk to the team about goals on the year;

We haven’t really talked as a group about the hunger. I didn’t want to start out the first day with that as the emphasis. We just wanted to get back into it. You can tell, just by watching them today, the flow of the game was pretty good and I think guys know what they are capable of accomplishing this year. As long as we go about our business well, we’re trying to get what we didn’t pick up this year.

Fucito though noted a hunger to do more;

As a team every one's worked harder. We have a lot on the line coming into this season... we want to cause some havoc in the Champions League and I think we've done well in League but I think we want to get over that hump.

Drafted players, from first rounder Andrew Duran to supplemental pick Abudl Aman were thrilled with the opportunity they have to pursue a pro career in the sport they've played so long.

Andrew Duran's words are classic rookie in any sport on day one. "It was difficult. At this level it's going to be hard, but you try to push yourself and try to prove every day that you can make the team." He was grateful for the indoor facility and not to use the orange ball a Midwest staple.

Babayele Sodade can take the opportunity with Seattle to enter Canada's Olympic team. "I just got notified that I was in the 30-man preliminary roster for the Olympics. Qualification is in Nashville in April so hopefully if I make the Sounders and perform well and get the call up hopefully play in qualification against the United States."

Trade acquisition Andy Rose feels he is the type of player who helps Seattle. "I think I play the type of soccer they [the Sounders] want to play. Watching this team the past two or three years they try to pass the ball on the ground. Not every MLS team plays like that and that's the kind of thing I bring to the game. I like to keep it simple and play a passing game. I think they like that and saw that in me and I'm a hard worker and here to prove myself and take the next step."

Local product Abdul Aman gets the opportunity to play for his home town team. "To come to Seattle is a great opportunity for me. It's the home team and they have a great staff, a great stadium and good organization. I'm happy to be here." He especially credits PDL owner Alex Silva for finding him a couple years ago and bringing him to the Yakima Reds. That led to time with the North Sound SeaWolves (also owned by Silva, replacing the Reds) and then the chance to play with the University of Washington.

New keeper Michael Gspurning spoke of the differences between his first days with Xanthi and his first day in Seattle. "Everything here is very professional. They [in Greece] are not planning so much. They go into the day and say 'we will see what happens.' If you need something from the guys and you ask for it they say 'we will see tomorrow.' It is the Greek way of life. I love the country. I love the people there. But here it is more professional." He notes that the people of Greece were very friendly to him as well.

Jeremiah spoke with Christian Sivebaek in a one-on-one that should be in the next Nos Audietis. Similar to Gspurning and others he noted the quality of facilities and organization. He discusses that he's a right mid at his core, but can play on the left. Any right back time would be in an emergency. He also is impressed by the technical level of play.

In day one of a journey that will ideally last into December for the Club World Cup this is a team that started day one with limited fitness work, instead focusing on getting time on the ball as Sigi, Adrian and the rest of the coaching and technical staff figure out who will put on the Super Cyan to open the year against Santos Laguna.

We'll have photos from www.SoundersPhotos.com when possible.