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Sounders hoping to work on fitness, tactics during Arizona preseason

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Osvaldo Alonso is one player the Sounders will keep a particularly watchful eye upon.

Mike Russell/Sounder at Heart

On the eve of Seattle Sounders FC's preseason trip to Arizona, Sigi Schmid said he's happy to have most of his players available and healthy, but worries that the team's truncated preseason could add unwanted injury risk to some of the players.

"Our preseason is too short [due to] the Champions' League games," Schmid said. "We start [preseason] the same time as the other MLS teams, but they don't have to play their first game until 10 days later. It makes it a little more difficult and I think it puts players into a little more jeopardy of injury because they're not entirely fit."

Schmid said this also disrupts the tactics for the CCL and early MLS season matches, because the coaches go into the game knowing that certain players can't play 90 minutes yet. "It puts a strain on everything. But those are the rules and regulations we have to live by."

Osvaldo Alonso will be on player the team plans to deal with particularly carefully, as he was out for much of last season with injury. At the moment, it seems that Alonso will be rotated in and out of the starting XI and won't usually play 90 minutes when he does start. "His commitment so far has been very good, in doing the work that he needs to do off the field." His role in preseason matches will likely be limited to shorter appearances.

As for the rest of the squad, Schmid is happy to have Clint Dempsey available for a full preseason, as he was left off the national team roster by Jurgen Klinsmann in order to give younger players a shot in impressing US Soccer staff. "It's good for him to get in and have a preseason with us, which he's never really had a strong preseason with us." As with Alonso, Schmid hopes a carefully monitored preseason could help prevent Dempsey from getting injured prior to the start of the MLS season. "It just made sense to have him on the same rhythm and regimented routine for preseason."

Another added preseason boost for the Sounders is having 2015's midseason signings Erik Friberg, Nelson Haedo Valdez, and Andreas Ivanschitz in for a full preseason to get fit and gel with the team leading into the season opener. In addition to those signings, Schmid said that the club is bringing a pretty big group to Arizona, and that only a few unnamed trialists wouldn't be making the trip. The trip, Schmid said, is about "continuing our fitness, but it's also now a chance to work on our tactics. I wanted the team to play and work hard and get some fitness here, we talked conceptually about a few ideas but it's really a great chance to work on our tactics and how we want to play."