TUKWILA, Wash — The Seattle Sounders finished up the introductory phase of preseason training in front of a larger than normal crowd, as the Emerald City Supporters joined the team to observe the last training session at Starfire before they head to Southern California for the rest of the month. The supporters’ group greeted the team as they made their way to the training field with the usual accompaniment of chants and songs, and got an up close look at the session.
The Sounders took off for warmer pastures after training, heading to California for the next 10 days where they’ll continue to work on fitness, and get a closed-door friendly in as well (presumably against Uruguay’s Peñarol).
Midfielder Gustav Svensson joined the Sounders for his first practice with the team and is looking forward to traveling ahead of the season. “I think it’s going to be good for us, to be away,” Svensson said after practice. “Even though we like to be here, the snow is not really helping us to prepare. We’re looking forward to coming to warmer climates and good pitches.”
Svensson’s return to the team was a bit of a surprise, in that many people — including the Sounders’ front office — thought it was his intention to return to Sweden after the season. But Svensson said Seattle has kinda grown on his family.
“I like it here, my family likes it here,” Svensson said. “It’s a good place to be, both the Sounders and Seattle, so I’m very happy to be here.”
Like most observers, Svensson is acutely aware of the roster issues at centerback, and given that he has experience at the position, he is a natural — if less than ideal — solution for the issue. Still, he’s not exactly campaigning for a move to defense.
“I think it’s a little bit too early to answer that question,” Svensson said. “I’ve always said I can play anywhere [Brian] Schmetzer wants to me to play, It’s more important that the team wins than me being only in one position. So I’m happy to go around and help the team wherever I can.”
The California portion of the trip will allow the Sounders to continue to evaluate the younger players on the squad. With nearly a dozen open roster slots, assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda wants to see continued progression from the Tacoma Defiance and academy players.
“It’s just them being ready to go mentally next to Nico Lodeiro, to be next to Raul [Ruidiaz], to push the big names we have. ” Pineda said. “It’s a bit more how they interact with them and see [if] they’re mature enough to deal with them in a first team environment.”
- The Sounders will remain in California until Jan. 29, and after two off-days, will return to Starfire from Feb. 1-5.
- With the return of Svensson, left back Nouhou is the only unaccounted for Sounders player, still apparently in Cameroon. It’s unclear when he will join the team.
- An updated roster with players making to trip to California should be made available next week.
- Right back Kelvin Leerdam spent much of his offseason training with his national team Suriname, who in November qualified for the 2021 Gold Cup. It will be their first appearance in the tournament.