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Wildfire smoke doesn’t keep Sounders off training pitch

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Air quality in Seattle area rated as “unhealthy.”

Despite the air quality index being rated as “unhealthy”, the Seattle Sounders continued to train outdoors on Tuesday ahead of their rivalry match with the Portland Timbers. Just about everyone but Clint Dempsey — who continues to deal with a lower-back injury — was participating.

“Our guys are tough kids, they can play through fog or smog,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer joked with reporters. He then added more seriously, “We check with our medical staff and today’s training is pretty light. Tomorrow we’ll check the air quality to see if we can do a little bit more. But we’re in contact with our doctors to make sure we don’t put the players at any risk.”

The nearest air-quality monitor, located about two miles north of the training facility, reported an air-quality index reading of 229 (“very unhealthy”) at 11:00 am, and the air was thick with smoke just about everywhere around Seattle.

“I’m exhausted, you can definitely feel it,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “I thought I was being a bit dramatic when I walked my dog the last couple times, but I was feeling a bit light-headed. There’s definitely something to it.”