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Bidding a fond farewell to Starfire

Sounders close out the Starfire era with a spirited scrimmage while Schmetzer gives an update on Léo Chú transfer rumors.

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2 min read

TUKWILA, Wash. – The final day of Seattle Sounders training at Starfire Sports Complex could have hardly been more fitting. After enduring days of freezing and/or rainy conditions through the first week of preseason, the sun was out in full force, bathing the field in that perfect outdoor activity warmth that is the platonic ideal of a Pacific Northwest winter day.

A handful of fans watched from behind the fences, the team played another spirited 11v11 scrimmage, and players stopped to sign autographs as they made their way back to the locker rooms.

The Sounders have been training at the former Fort Dent during the entirety of their MLS existence, but will decamp for Spain later this week. When they return, they’ll be training across 405 at their new state-of-the-art facility, Sounders FC Center at Longacres.

There wasn’t anything particularly ceremonial about this end of an era, but Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer did make sure to ask his players about some of their favorite memories earlier in the day. Both veterans and younger players who came up through the Academy recalled how much they appreciated the connection that the facility’s accessibility provided, while also clearly being ready to move into the organization’s next phase.

“I got some feedback we’ll take back,” Schmetzer said. “Starfire has been a great home for us. [Starfire CEO] Chris Slatt has done a great job of making this the premier location for youth sports. Really good memories.”

Scrimmage impressions

The team was split into gray and pink teams, with the group that primarily consisted of expected starters coming out ahead. Schmetzer said he was mostly impressed by the play of several youngsters, calling out by name Defiance midfielder Snyder Brunell, Sounders centerback Stuart Hawkins, Academy defender Gallatin Sandnes and draft pick Kalani Kossa-Rienzi.

Mystery guest

Adding a little spice to Tuesday's training session was the presence of a mystery guest. On the same day that midfielder Pedro de la Vega was due to arrive in town, someone who looked suspiciously like him was introduced to the team before being spirited away. The Sounders also have a press conference scheduled for Wednesday that is slated to include various members of club leadership.

Léo Chú sticking around, for now

Last week, reports surfaced that Fluminense had submitted a transfer bid for Léo Chú, even suggesting the midfielder had agreed to personal terms on a potential move. Schmetzer effectively confirmed those reports, but noted that there's currently no deal in place that would lead to an imminent move.

"Léo Chú is a talented player," Schmetzer said. "I can see why teams around the world would want a piece of him."

Schmetzer also acknowledged that Chú was understandably disappointed without how things played out, but noted that he felt like he had handled it OK and made sure to point out that he was one of the standouts in the scrimmage.

"There are certain emotions that players go through, and there are days when he’s been down when teammates pick him up, the coaching staff picks him up," Schmetzer said. "We’ve addressed it. He is human. But he knows he has a good opportunity here and has done a good job of establishing himself as one of the key players in our team. We’ll see what happens."