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Sounders want to be even sharper in front of goal

Despite scoring six goals, the Sounders are well aware that they’ve left some chances on the field.

Kayla Mehring / Sounder at Heart

TUKWILA — Cristian Roldan had one simple request for assistant coach Andy Rose: Don’t go easy on us.

While the Seattle Sounders have outscored their opponents 6-0 in winning their first two MLS regular-season matches, they have not been flawless. That’s been especially true in front of goal, where the Sounders lead MLS with seven missed “big chances” (of course they also lead with six converted “big chances”).

Roldan was adamant about wanting to see some of that reflected in the weekly film study.

“I told Andy Rose specifically, you can’t just show good clips because then we’ll think too highly of ourselves,” Roldan said following Tuesday’s training session. “You have to show what we can do to get better, and that’s what we saw. We want to continue in that way. We played well but there were also chances we missed and things we need to clean up.”

Now going into their first road game — against an FC Cincinnati team that many expect to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield — the Sounders are aware that chances may not be quite as plentiful. They’re also not about to make any assumptions about what this portends for the rest of the season.

“We have to keep a good mentality and keep the training really high,” Roldan said. “MLS is a funny thing. You go through phases and you want to ride the momentum.

“We played two great games and that’s awesome, but they were at home. We felt like we scored an early goal and that helped us but we can’t be too high on those performances because there’s a lot of season left to play. You can’t become complacent.”

Mixing it up at training

Tuesday’s training session was heavy on a short-sided tournament that featured eight teams of four players plus the four goalkeepers. The games were also played on a field about a quarter of the size of a regulation pitch, prioritizing quick passing and heads-up defending.

“If you lose track of your guy for one second on a condensed field, the ball is going in the back of the net,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer explained. “You have to work collectively, but you as an individual are rooted in defending. That was the emphasis for today.”

Everyone available

For the first time since very early in preseason training, the Sounders had all 27 players signed to first-team contracts fully participating. Rounding out the group was Tacoma Defiance centerback Stuart Hawkins, whose been a regular at first-team training since returning from the U17 Concacaf Championships.

The most recent addition to the group was Obed Vargas, who was a full participant in first-team training for the first time since suffering a quadriceps injury early in preseason. He’s now been declared “available for selection” after appearing for the Defiance in a preseason game against the University of Portland on Saturday.

More training at Lumen Field

Although they won’t be going there this week as they’re playing a road game, the Sounders trained at Lumen Field the day before each of their two home games. That’s a practice they’d gotten away from in recent years and one that Schmetzer said he intends to bring back in an effort to reclaim the “fortress” feel.

During Schmetzer first five seasons, the Sounders were 55-9-17 at Lumen Field across all competitions (2.24 points per game). From 2021-22, the Sounders were just 22-10-8 (1.85 PPG) even after going 4-0-0 in Concacaf Champions League play.

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