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Competitive 5v5 drill lifts Sounders spirits

Kalani Kossa-Rienzi continues to make a good impression on first-team coaches.

Last Updated
2 min read

RENTON – Coming off a frustrating loss to open the 2024 season, the Seattle Sounders had a bit of a palette-cleansing training session that included a spirited 5v5 tournament. The roster was split into six groups with a handful of players brought up from the Tacoma Defiance and Sounders Academy to help fill out numbers. Among that group were Faysal Bettache (Defiance), Snyder Brunell (Defiance), Leo Flores (U17), Sebastian Gomez (Defiance), Kalani Kossa-Rienzi (draft pick) and Georgi Minoungou (Defiance).

The teams then engaged in a series of games with the final two meeting in a sort of "championship game" with the rest of the players along the sideline watching.

The players seemed to respond to the attention, aggressively challenging shots and showing plenty of emotion. Ultimately, it was the team of Xavier Arreaga, Bettache, Kossa-Rienzi, Dylan Teves and Andrew Thomas that emerged victorious.

Aside from being a fun activity that ramped up the competitiveness, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said the drill was effective at highlighting the importance of winning duels.

"Credit to the coaching staff for coming up with new ways to engage everyone," Schmetzer said.

Kalani makes his case

Among the standouts in the tournament was Kossa-Rienzi, whose game seemed particularly well suited for this type of tight-space drill. Kossa-Rienzi remains unsigned, but seems destined to join Defiance at least in the shor-term. Schmetzer seemed to indicate that's likely a temporary situation.

"He looks pretty good," Schmetzer said. "He had a great preseason, he looked good today. It's an ongoing conversation. We'll talk to (Defiance head coach Herve Diese) and see what he thinks. It might not happen [right] now but I think it’s going to happen."

Still short-handed

Stefan Frei (hamstring), João Paulo (hip), Yeimar Gomez Andrade (undisclosed) and Albert Rusnák (ankle) are all likely to miss Saturday's home-opener after missing last week's season-opener. Of those four, Yeimar was the only one to be fully participating in training. Frei and João Paulo were outside doing some fitness work, while Rusnák was getting treatment inside.

Raúl Ruidíaz, who apparently hurt his ribs in the LAFC match, was also training on the side but was deemed "questionable" by Schmetzer.

One bright spot is that Pedro de la Vega is nearing full fitness and could be in line to make his first Sounders start after making his debut off the bench.

"He brought a little bit of excitement," Schmetzer said. "You saw his attacking tendencies. we need to work on making sure he knows how we like to defend, but we’re going to let him go and let him do what he does. We’re not going to corral that."