Sounders balance Open Cup and MLS play while watching World Cup

Staff writerJune 25, 2014 

— In the aftermath of another U.S. Open Cup win, Seattle Sounders FC is about to return to Major League Soccer competition while keeping an eye on the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

That’s a lot of soccer, even for professionals. But coach Sigi Schmid thinks it’s a good thing.

“You watch so much soccer you want to get out there and play,” he said. “I think all the guys are excited to get out there and play. And we’re excited to work and coach and do all that stuff.”

The Sounders trained at Starfire Sports Complex on Wednesday, the lone day of practice between their penalty kick shootout win over San Jose in the Open Cup on Tuesday night and their Thursday afternoon departure for Washington, D.C., where they will face D.C. United on Saturday.

Schmid scheduled travel times to allow his players to watch teammates Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin and the rest of the U.S. national team play Germany in the World Cup.

“For the U.S. to finish first, obviously, they have to win — a tie keeps them in second,” he said. “There is that at stake. It gives you a different draw. … I think if Brazil wins their group, finishing second in the (USA-Germany) group means you avoid Brazil until the finals, so there might be a benefit to finishing second. But then, of course, you might run into Belgium instead of running into Algeria or Russia or Korea, so it changes your (path). That’s something you can’t predict. I think with the U.S., we just want to get on to the next round.”

There also is another possibility for the Americans: elimination. Regardless of whether or when that happens, Schmid indicated he plans to give Dempsey and Yedlin time to decompress before rushing them back into the MLS season.

Schmid similarly had hoped to use the league’s three-week World Cup break to give all of his players more time off before returning to a regular season that runs through October. Instead, the Sounders got six days away before returning for their first two Open Cup matches.

However, veteran defender Zach Scott sees benefit in that.

“I think it’s been tremendous,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get a bit complacent or maybe even lackadaisical when you’re just training against your teammates. So, I think this was the best-case scenario for us.”

GM TOPICS

Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer was at training and discussed a variety of topics:

• He said the club moved its home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy from July 26 to Monday, July 28, after the City of Seattle expressed concerns about Sounders and Mariners games being played downtown on the same day as the Seafair Torchlight Parade. The 27th was not an option because ESPN2 couldn’t carry the match that day.

• Hanauer said he was aware of complaints about the deterioration of the four-year-old artificial turf at Starfire Sports Stadium. He said it is not certain that the turf will be replaced anytime soon, but he indicated that is likely, especially if the Sounders continue to use the facility as their Open Cup home and go ahead with plans to operate a USL Pro team there next season.

• Hanauer clarified that the contract of goals co-leader Obafemi Martins keeps him under club control through the 2016 season. However, Hanauer said the Sounders are discussing a possible new deal with Martins’ representatives. He also added that a transfer could not be ruled out if appropriate compensation was offered by another club.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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