TUKWILA, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders kicked off their 2024 preseason with an unusually active first public training session. Unlike recent years where the first session is often just various drills, Tuesday’s practice featured quite a bit of actual game-play that even included some extended 11v11 scrimmaging.
This allowed for some genuine highlight moments, maybe the best of which was provided by Tacoma Defiance midfielder Georgi Minoungou, who juked Paul Rothrock off his feet and scored on a blast from about 16 yards out. Albert Rusnák also looked to be in fine form, scoring at least twice on cutbacks that found him near the top of the penalty area.
On the other side, the session marked the first time that recently acquired veteran defenders Nathan and Jonathan Bell got to play with their new teammates. Nathan was showing no signs of the ACL injury that cost him all of last season, while Bell drew compliments for his “hunger.”
"It’s always exciting," Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said about his feelings around the first day of training. "It’s exciting to get to do this for a living. It never gets old. The longer you do it the more blessed you realize you are."
Although most of the veterans were full participants, there were more than a few notable absences as well. The most concerning of those was Jackson Ragen, who suffered some sort of knee injury while he was with the United States national team. It was not entirely clear if this was a re-aggravation of the hyper-extended knee he suffered in the Sounders' final game of 2023 or a new injury, but Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer indicated there's a good chance that Ragen will miss a large portion of preseason.
"He’s going to be out awhile," Schmetzer said. "The fact is he’s had a setback and it’s going to be awhile. I don’t have a timeline, but we hope we’ll have him back for the first game of the year."
Also missing were Xavier Arreaga (illness); Josh Atencio (USMNT); Yeimar Gomez Andrade (visa); Nouhou (Cameroon) and Braudilio Rodrigues (visa). Reed Baker-Whiting did not participate in training, but was jogging around while still recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered at the end of last season.
Several players have changed numbers for the 2024 season. Here are the changes as well as the new players' numbers:
4 – Nathan
8 – Atencio
14 – Paul Rothrock
15 – Bell
18 – Obed Vargas
27 – Braudilio