The Seattle Sounders made an early trip to Century Link field Thursday, ahead of Saturday night’s matchup with Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. The field trip from Starfire was primarily to allow the Sounders to get acclimated with the new field turf, which was installed over the three-week break in the team’s regular season schedule.
Early reviews on the turf were positive, according to coach Brian Schmetzer. “I am pleased that new turf is down a little bit early,” he said. The turf was scheduled be replaced in winter 2020, but the Sounders and First and Goal were able to agree to an early installation. “The blades stick up a little bit more, it [the ball] rolls truer, and it’ll be better for the athletes.”
Sounders left back Brad Smith agreed with Schmetzer’s assessment, and was happy the team decided to practice at the stadium. “I’m glad we’re training on it,” he said. “Obviously you don’t want to just step onto something new. It feels good; the ball runs well on it.”
There were no updates on Smith’s contract status with the Sounders, as his loan agreement with AFC Bournemouth ends July 31, according to a Sounders source with knowledge of his contract status. “I’m sure everyone’s anxious, and me as well, because I’d like to stay out here,” Smith said. “As of now we’re just focusing on the game Saturday.”
The Sounders also welcomed back another international, as Joevin Jones made an appearance at training. He wasn’t an active participant, having played in Kansas City Wednesday. “[He’s] a little tired. He didn’t play a ton of minutes, but he had to get up early and fly in from K.C.,” Schmetzer said. “He’ll be involved in the game for sure.”
There was no official announcement on the potential signing of Tacoma Defiance forward Justin Dhillon, but Schmetzer all but confirmed that his signing is imminent. “I believe he’ll be signed,” he said. If signed, there is a strong possibility Dhillon will start Saturday. “I’ll make his task very specific and we’ll see what we get out of him,” Schmetzer said.
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez is also an option for the Sounders, and if called upon the 17-year-old will relish the opportunity to see his first minutes for the first team. “It’s a big chance for me and a big step in my career,” he said. “If don’t get to step on the field, that’s fine; I’m patient.”