On a team crowded with United States national team hopefuls, many of the Seattle Sounders will be watching the United States against Panama Tuesday night (7 PM, BeIN Sports, Telemundo). That includes the coaching staff, as assistant Djimi Traore explains “We watch all the games because our main guys are with the national teams. We assess them because we see if they are day-by-day, when they come back who is available or did they take a knock or get injured.”
For the players their focus varies. They get to watch soccer for enjoyment like Chad Marshall. “I was watching as a fan, but I think as a player you’re always watching the guys that play your position and what they’re doing,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “You try to see if you can pick up things that they are doing well.”
And to make certain the nation you hope to represent gets three points.
“With a game like US-Panama there’s something at stake,” Frei told the media. “You want the US to play well, but most importantly we need the results. It’s funny because a lot of the guys play in MLS and I play against them, and I know what they’re capable of and most of the time they’re my opponents, but now I want them to do well. Because the ultimate goal for the National Team is to make it to Russia. Games like these are very important.”
But players also watch soccer for other things. For Cristian Roldan that can be teasing his friends. “I watch it for a little bit of everything. I know a lot of those players so I’m able to play against them and have the luxury of knowing some of those guys. I watch it to learn, to see how they do and because we can joke about it if they have a bad game,” he told Sounder at Heart with a smile.
Roldan focuses his learning experiences on the American midfield.
“I don’t analyze much into players because I am a little bit different. I would say every player is different, they have their own qualities, and for me I just watch it a little bit to enjoy it and obviously to see who plays well,” Cristian says. “There’s a couple players that play my position - Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Lletget, Pulisic, who is a little more offense - those guys who obviously they’re good players, their touches are very good, they are clever. You can learn from it but I try to just enjoy it.”
He also watches some of the more defensive midfielders on the world’s best national teams.
“I think when I watch Argentina and Uruguay and Paraguay and Brazil, which I will do today,” Roldan said. “I will look at Paulinho, Fernandinho, and Mascherano, all these players that are in the big leagues. I will take a look at what they are doing because there’s a lot of different situations that they get put in but I like to critique and analyze them a bit more. I will definitely visualize certain players and try to put some of their qualities in my game.”
The Tuesday night match between the USMNT and Panama features two Sounders, both who have worn their armband representing their nation on the highest stage. Traore referred to Clint Dempsey as “the captain of the US, even if he’s not the captain any more, but he’s a main player for them.”
There will be many eyes of Sounders on that inevitable matchup, and on Dempsey himself. “It’s really great to see Clint in the last game,” Frei said, “for him to score some goals is very important for him to gain some confidence. He must be very confident going into the Panama game. Obviously it’s going to take a strong effort from everybody else as well. I think the last result probably did a world of confidence for the whole squad and we’re going to need it.”