On a warm, damp day in January the quest for three more major trophies started with a near-full-health Seattle Sounders FC squad taking to the practice fields for the first time in 2015. A large contingent of fans and supporters, a swath of media, and about 40 mostly healthy players were on hand for day one.
Clint Dempsey is with the United States National Team. Both Obafemi Martins and Aaron Kovar had excused absences for undisclosed reasons. The only player that did not participate in full with his training group was Osvaldo Alonso. Zach Scott is still recovering from offseason surgery but the likely starting XI only jogged today. Brad Evans said he had no pain today.
Update: Victor Mansaray played with the U18s today rather than practice with the club.
Preseason Day One
Preseason Day One
The players were split into three groups: starting XI, first teamers and trialists. First teamers were on the far field so most eyes were on the trialists and draftees. Cristian Roldan and Darwin Jones showed exactly why they are first round talents with several skill moves. Sounders Academy Alum -- and current Tacoma Stars player -- Duncan McCormick was one of the other trialists of note. Cam Weaver was also in camp, though not under contract. Draft picks Andy Bevin, Andy Craven, Oniel Fisher and Charlie Lyon all attended today.
Sigi Schmid's goals for 2015 are as big as you'd expect for a team that finished just shy of the treble.
"I know we want to take that one more jump. We got two out of three titles last year and now we want to get three our of three, we don't want to give up the two that we got. But, by the same token, MLS Cup is what people measure you by. Whether that's good or bad, that's something for somebody else to discuss, but getting a good game at the right time -- like the Seahawks with a good three minutes -- can change the entire outcome and how everyone looks at you. 'Oh my gosh, that was dismal' and then it becomes the greatest thing in the world. We need to have those three or four good minutes at the right time."
Sigi took time to talk to the gathered fans before the session started. He introduced the new assistant coach Ante Razov and Ezra Hendrickson was introduced to fans as the S2 Head Coach.
Sigi mentioning getting Jordan Morris here "sooner rather than later" is encouraging. But Ozzie still recovering? pic.twitter.com/bfUTPQh1p5— Mike Standish (@MikeStandish) January 24, 2015
Garth Lagerwey's first in-person media also noted the high goals for 2015.
"I'm really excited to join the Sounders. It's pretty cool that Adrian was willing to give me a chance at this job. It's something that I've aspired to for a while and I'm hopeful that we can combine the best of RSL and all the good things that the Sounders are already doing and hopefully make them just a little bit better and push us over the top and win the MLS Cup and hopefully compete for the Champions League."
Garth also noted that this was the first time he'd seen a Supporters' Group meet a team on day one of practice. He's still working on learning all of the players and staff, including the scouting department. He did not have that at Real Salt Lake.
"We're going to have a three-to-five year strategic plan with kids at the Academy level, the S2 level and pushing players into the first team actively over the next period of years, so that hopefully you get to a point where success is inevitable, as opposed to just a product of a lot of good coaching and good players."
More on that plan in story today
He also said that Tyler Miller has a contract offer from Sounders FC, and has not yet signed with SVN Zweibrücken, but they expect that final decision maybe by today. Whether he signs or not, Lagerwey considers Miller an asset. Sounders want at least four keepers in the pro organization.
Brad Evans continues to sound like a captain.
"Everyone came in with a great attitude today. We'll get back at on Monday."
"I think everybody went into the New Year feeling good. There were no major surgeries this year, nobody really laboring from major issues. We've come in as healthy as we have in years past. That's good. We have everybody from the start, except for Clint. He'll still be here for a large portion of the preseason which I think is massive. We'll actually have everybody here which I think is the first time in a long time. It will be cool and we're excited about that."
Evans thinks the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl 21-14, but would prefer his friend Hauschka to win it on a last second field goal.
Both Lagerwey and Schmid indicated they want some speed on the outside, whether wingers or fullbacks and there is a need for a centerback capable of starting MLS games (that could come from youth development or as a signing). Other needs will be assessed as players develop/regressed during the offseason. As usual trialists here for one phase of training may not be around for another.
Sounder at Heart staff will have the following stories from Day One over the weekend: a photo gallery, expanded scouting networks, building Sounders 2, and a look at CBA negotiations.