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First Preseason Game Starts To Settle Lineup Questions

Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders FC took the pitch in anger for the first time. While it may only be preseason anger, the number of cards (10 yellow, 1 red) and the puncture wound on Mike Fucito indicate that emotions were high and form was off. While the game ended with both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Sounders netting just one goal apiece, the point of these matches is not to win, but to prepare to win meaningful games. There were a lucky hundred or so Sounders fans in attendance and readerJason Riptide shared his thoughts on what he saw live.

Schmid in postgame comments released by the club noted that Seattle has yet to do formal finishing work. Their work so far is on the tweaks to possession along the backline, playing out from the keeper and discovering who will work together best for those two games against Santos Laguna. The opening lineup looks very likely to be one played on March 7.

Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Fredy Montero, Mike Fucito (Roger Levesque 29')

It is notable that when Fucito left due to the injury he was not replaced by Sammy Ochoa. Instead, ForMidFender played extra minutes, showing again that utility men have a distinct place on the squad. As for Fucito's injury Schmid described the event in the release:

[H]e got tackled pretty badly so we got to hope that it's not a more serious injury because he's got stud marks on his knee and up his thigh. So it was a little bit of a high challenge. He's also got a puncture wound there so you've got to make sure there's no infection and stuff like that because that could lead to a staph infection. We've got to be careful. It just kept tightening up on him because the blood was flowing in there so we needed to get him off the field.

The second group is a bit different from what would be a second team as the following players were held out for precautionary reasons - Christian Sivebaek, Patrick Ianni and Steve Zakuani. This gave Mike Seamon a role out wide and paired Andrew Duran and Zach Scott at Centerback. From the highlights you can see how well this second team did with ball movement.

Also notable in the highlight package was a run well forward by Parke. What most observers could see as unsound tactics will be by design. If CBs are crossing balls from wide positions things could get very exciting as Seattle will need to adjust how it defends the counter.

The final two groups of Seattle players had seven under contract players on the pitch in Group Two and only four in Group Three to start the bonus period.

Group Two: Andrew Weber, Wes Fieghner, Zach Scott, Andrew Duran, Marc Burch, Michael Seamon, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Lamar Neagle, David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa

Group Three: Bryan Meredith, Amadou Sanyang, Tim Pontius, Harlinton Gutierres, Ever Alvarado, Cordell Cato, Andrew Vanzie, Alex Caskey, Jason Banton (Servando Carrasco 115'), Roger Levesque, Babayele Sodade

One preseason game does not lend itself well to lineup and usage analysis, but there are some snapshots of who is in the competition for various spaces within the XI, 18 and 30. As matches accumulate the same battles will need to be tracked - keeper #2, starting left back, starting non-Montero forward and what young draftees and trialists should be kept to develop for 2013.

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Rest of the quote sheet

Sounders FC Quotes - Head Coach Sigi Schmid
(On the training game...) "It's good. It's always better when you play somebody else besides yourself. I thought it was a little chippy at times with some of the tackles on both sides. I think we went into some bad tackles. I think they went into some bad tackles. But that's the nature of the beast and I think it took us the first five to ten minutes to get into the tempo of the game and realize that it was going to be like that. After that I thought the first team did well in the first 45 minutes and they didn't produce a goal. I was pleased with the way the second group started off. They got the equalizer and then they sort of faded a little bit. Overall I was pleased with what we got out of it and we got a lot of good work, the effort was good from the guys."

(On Mike Fucito...) "Well, he got tackled pretty badly so we got to hope that it's not a more serious injury because he's got stud marks on his knee and up his thigh. So it was a little bit of a high challenge. He's also got a puncture wound there so you've got to make sure there's no infection and stuff like that because that could lead to a staph infection. We've got to be careful. It just kept tightening up on him because the blood was flowing in there so we needed to get him off the field."

(On the first group...) "It was good. I thought after the first ten minutes they still maybe had a couple of opportunities there when Michael [Gspurning] mis-kicked the ball out of the back. But I thought after the first ten minutes I thought we created more of the opportunities in the rest of that 45 minutes. I thought we were around the goal. We were pretty close at times. We've got to work on our crossing and our running. But we really haven't done anything so far that looks like finishing or things on goal. We haven't played a lot of games with goals in tight, things like that. That will all come as we move to Florida. So I was pretty happy with what they did."

(On the second group...) "Depth is always nice and their mentality right when they came on was good. I thought [David] Estrada was active and caused a lot of problems. I thought that part of it was good. There were some other guys who I didn't think showed as well. As I always say, players make decisions. They always think coaches make decisions. Players make decisions by how they play so some guys obviously pushed themselves up and some other guys pushed themselves down a little bit. Overall I was pleased. I thought Zach Scott and Andrew Duran did well in the back and held that together for us. I thought [Marc] Burch did well. I saw a lot of good things in that second group."

(On the Arizona training camp...) "Good. I think it's time to get on to the next phase. I think guys are ready to leave. I think we need a couple days rest for everybody to regenerate a little bit and then we are going to go at it again in Florida. Now it's a matter of fine-tuning the game or tactics, getting our finishing down, the movement of the ball, the runs off the ball, our defensive shape and tenacity. So we will start working on all those things."

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