TUKWILA — With just a few days remaining before the Seattle Sounders move preseason overseas, some decisions are probably going to be made soon.
On Tuesday, the Sounders released their first preseason training roster, which appears to already be somewhat out of date as the first team and Tacoma Defiance are now training separately. The only players not signed to a MLS contract currently training with the first team are draft picks Eythor Bjørgolfsson and Blake Bowen, Defiance goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley and former Real Salt Lake player Tate Schmitt.
Of those players, the two who seem to have the best chance of making the trip to Spain are Bjørgolfsson and Schmitt.
Bjørgolfsson has impressed coaches in preseason and has even gotten a fair amount of time with the reserves. The forward gives the Sounders a more physical presence than either Raúl Ruidíaz or Héber, and even scored a nice header in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage. The Norwegian would likely occupy an international roster spot, but the Sounders currently have three openings and probably can’t afford to sign more than one higher-profile international anyway. If he were to sign a first-team contract, he’d be the first draft pick the Sounders have signed directly since Alex Roldan in 2018.
Schmitt probably has an even better chance of making the roster, as he’s effectively one of only two left backs currently with the team, along with Nouhou. Schmitt, 25, enjoyed his most productive MLS season in 2022, making 14 appearances and starting 10 times for RSL.
Meanwhile at right back...
The competition to be Alex Roldan’s backup is a bit different. Kelyn Rowe effectively filled that role last year, and has even been deputized as a left back. Giving him some competition in camp this year are Ethan Dobbelaere and Reed Baker-Whiting. Dobbelaere began the move to right back last season, while Baker-Whiting just returned from a United States U19 training camp where he mostly played as a right back.
The Sounders will hold their last local training session on Thursday and are scheduled to depart for Marbella, Spain on Saturday. They will train there for about a week and are expected to play a couple of exhibition matches against European opponents currently training there while on winter break. They will then leave for Morocco on Jan. 29 ahead of their Club World Cup opener on Feb. 4.