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Sounders Practice Notes: Rest and Reflection

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Sounders look ahead to the biggest week in franchise history.

TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders returned to Starfire to start their MLS Cup preparations on Saturday, reaping the benefits of some well-deserved downtime ahead of the chaos in front of them. Having played last Tuesday, and with the final not until Sunday, the Sounders took full advantage of something not afforded to them in this condensed playoff schedule: Rest.

“We have 10 days to prepare, we had a few days off,” midfielder Cristain Roldan said. “We were able to rest our bodies and forget about soccer for a few days. It’s been great so far but [with] hosting it becomes busier. It’s what you want.”

The time away also allowed the team to reflect on what many consider their best performance of the season in defeating Los Angles FC on the road to advance to MLS Cup. In additional to the three goals scored by the Sounders, the team was arguably more happy with their defensive performance, allowing one goal on a well-taken free kick.

“What I was most proud about was our defensive performance,” midfielder Jordan Morris said. “Obviously the goals are great, but our collective defensive performance, everyone tracking back, double-teaming their wingers when they get the ball. To shut them down and to have the mentality to come back from 1-0 down as well was really important.”

With Toronto FC doing the team a huge favor by upsetting Atlanta in the Eastern Conference final, the Sounders will be able to experience the advantages of hosting the MLS Cup final at home.

“We needed some help [from Toronto] but to have that on the horizon is exciting,” Morris said. “This one is going to be extra special and having it be sold out is going to be amazing.”

Six players are left from the 2016 title-winning team and 13 remain from the 2017 finalists in addition to many of the coaches and staff, so it’s not as though the experience will new to the Sounders. But staying home for the entire week will be a huge help according to goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

“I can cook my own meal,” Frei said. “When you can surround yourself with moments that you’ve done a million times, you kind of convince yourself that you’ve been there, done that, and that puts things at ease.”

The schedule for the week has yet to be released by MLS, but it typically involves a media day, practices at the stadium and countless interviews for national outlets. With the game at home this year, Roldan doesn’t believe it will have any material impact on preparations.

“Hosting is a little different,” Roldan said. “Having a lot of friends and family in town, getting hit up for tickets. That’s all part of it and you as a professional play in front of big crowds so I don’t think that’s anybody’s biggest stress. All of the off-field stuff I think everybody is pretty chill about because we’re hosting.”

Notes

On the field, training was by-the-numbers, though center back Roman Torres was not present at practice. He is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury, though he did come off the bench to help close out the Sounders’ victory over LAFC. ... The United States national team crashed out of the U-17 World Cup in dubious fashion after a 4-0 pasting at the hands of the Netherlands. They scored only one goal and gained a singular point in a 0-0 draw with Japan. ... The early exit means that Sounders Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez should be able to join the team to prepare for MLS Cup.