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Camp Report: Testing Endurance, Mike Seamon's Role

David Estrada beat his group in today's beep test and is expected to do well in the sprint tomorrow.
David Estrada beat his group in today's beep test and is expected to do well in the sprint tomorrow.

The beep test is a progression of short runs where the testee is to pace themselves to turn on the beep, not faster, not slower. It tests not speed, but endurance, and today a few players showed quite well. Andy Rose and David Estrada each won their heats, while Mike Seamon and Cordell Cato came in second in their rounds. Seamon said later he was third overall. Like most work in Seattle Sounders FC's preseason camps, there is a competitive nature to things, but Dave Tenney made clear that part of this exercise is to establish a baseline for other fitness work over the next couple weeks.

A lot of guys, their starting points are a lot better than they were last year. I think that's a testament that those voluntary workouts that we were doing at the beginning of January that you could see them pay dividends from that.

Dave Tenney said those voluntary weeks of training are like Europe's first couple weeks of official training he mentioned last week. He said as well that they have to bring in players that have the right base of training so they can do the rest of the work with the team. The beep test is a solid judge of fitness for midfielders, but not the best way to judge forwards and centerbacks.

Coach Sigi Schmid said that the performance today will help guide the team's plan for a couple players over next few weeks.

Obviously we’re still going to have to work with some guys and still do some extra fitness training and bring their fitness up to the level where getting to the minimum was not such hard work. You want it to be something that they can achieve without having to kill themselves. I think we only had one or two guys that didn’t make the minimum.

Tenney will balance the need for fitness and freshness, and the next couple weeks are plenty of time to bring those players up to Seattle's standard.

We look at it as we have an offseason program to do and hopefully you do it in the offseason. If we have to put some of those bits in Arizona that's what we have to do as well. We're 95% of where we need to be right now.

Sigi said today that every year with a team he expects his team to be more fit and players start to learn that. It was his expectation with the Columbus Crew, with the LA Galaxy and even at UCLA. Every player needs to be more fit this year than last.

Some guys realized that when the other guys were playing, they were running last year in Arizona, and they didn’t really like to do that.

One of the players that clearly took that to heart was Mike Seamon. After spending last year trying to treat an odd injury that damaged nerves in one leg and which led to tendon damage later, his end of year meeting with the coaching staff made it clear that fitness was one of the ways he could demonstrate that he wanted to be a pro. His third overall finish today is an example. He's slimmed down, quicker with the ball and capable of being a more mobile box-to-box midfielder due to his new eating and fitness regime. Where in 2010 he was in a defensive mid role, in last year's Reserve League play he was a center mid. He talks about what he can do for the team now.

I think I'm going to settle into the center midfield role while I'm here. I don't see much movement going on, maybe outside mid, but I kind of roam the field while playing the center mid. I kind of get a taste of many positions while playing. I've heard the term box-to-box midfielder a lot and I think that's something that I try to do. At the fitness level I'm at now I'm capable of playing that position. Whereas in the last couple of years I could kind of do it, but not with the flexibility I can now. Now it's about the mental stuff and putting it all together.

Tomorrow the Sounders will do a few more measurables, testing sprinting, lifting and the vertical to further calibrate their non-soccer fitness regimes. And then the hard decisions come, as Sigi said at practice "Probably not everybody’s going to Arizona."

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