SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders began their first full week of training with a session and Lumen Field Tuesday, where they’ll train for the rest of this week. No, this isn’t a permanent move from Starfire (that will be coming). As it happens, the fields at the Sounders’ normal training site haven’t yet fully recovered from the beating they took after the Christmas snowstorm. So the team has taken advantage of the lack of winter activity at the downtown stadium (apologies, Seahawks fans) to train.
The change in training accommodations allows some of the newer Sounders to get accustomed to their new home. Recent signings, including homegrown additions Obed Vargas and Tacoma Defiance standout Sam Adeniran were full in training as they look to make their mark on a talent-rich and veteran Sounders squad.
Vargas — he is one of only two current MLS players from Alaska — found his way to the Sounders after trying out for the academy team.
“There’s 4-5 (development) clubs in the state, and we don’t really have a lot of competition. We play the same teams every weekend,” Vargas said. “Once I turned 14, I knew there was no more [developmental] future in Alaska, so they said I had to make the jump and Seattle gave me the opportunity.”
Adineran made an impression on fans after a 13-goal season with the Defiance and a well-received hardship appearance against Austin FC where he was a bit unlucky not to score. Adineran’s path to the Sounders is no less interesting than Vargas’, having toiled in the lower divisions in Europe before signing with the Defiance. Though he was born in Houston, he left for Europe at 16 and said he was essentially on his own from the age of 17 until he returned to the states to sign with the Sounders.
“I had a lot of experiences in Europe, a lot of ups and a lot of downs,” Adineran, now 23, said. “I think the downs helped me more than the ups to be honest, just being able to be persistent to keep working even when the opportunities weren’t there.”
Adineran said there was a significant adjustment period when he returned.
“Living in Europe for that long changed my mentality and when I finally came back here it took some time to adjust,” Adineran said. “But I think it really helped me being out there, playing in those lower levels to be a little bit more gritty and hardworking.”
His struggles in Europe did have some benefits, as Adineran said he learned Spanish and Portugese, and greatly improved his culinary skills.
“I’m the best chef on the team,” Adineran said. “I can make anything.”
Confidence aside, it might be tough for the new signings to break into the first-team squad on a regular basis, given the Sounders return nearly everyone from last season’s side which unexpectedly bowed out in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs after securing 60 points during the regular season. Though they have yet to all be announced as officially returning, Will Bruin, Fredy Montero, and Kelyn Rowe (official Tuesday) were all participants in training, and their new deals are expected to be announced in the coming days and weeks. Alex Roldan wasn’t present at training, but his deal is also expected to be announced soon.
With a handful of Sounders away on international duty, the team likely won’t be together in full until they leave for warmer climates next week. However, the most pressing piece of business appears to have been resolved, as Raúl Ruidíaz was also present and fully involved in training Tuesday. A new contract extension for the Sounders’ attacking talisman is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
- Once the initial phase of training in Seattle concludes, the team will head to Tucson for a week of training and games. After retuning to Seattle for week, it’s off again for sunny skies and training in Palm Springs.
- The Sounders likely won’t release a preseason training roster until the team leaves for Tucson. Given international absences, potential Covid unavailability and the finalization of the Tacoma Defiance’s move to MLS Next Pro, players will likely be shuttling in and out.
- With Rowe’s contract announcement, the Sounders official roster is at 24 players.
CURRENT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (2): Stefan Frei, Andrew Thomas
DEFENDERS (6): Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Xavier Arreaga, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Jimmy Medranda, Nouhou, Brad Smith
MIDFIELDERS (12): Josh Atencio, Reed Baker-Whiting, Léo Chú, Ethan Dobbelaere, João Paulo, Danny Leyva, Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe, Albert Rusnák, Obed Vargas, Dylan Teves
FORWARDS (4): Samuel Adeniran, Jordan Morris, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Raúl Ruidíaz