RENTON – The Sounders FC roster is fitter than ever.
That was the bottom-line result from Thursday, the first of two days of fitness testing at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton. The highlight of the day was the annual beep test – which measures endurance by sending the players through 21-yard segments in controlled amounts of time. The number of segments is limited only by how long the players can endure.
“It sets the bar for us,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It lets us know where they are in comparison to where they’ve been in the past few years, where we are as a team. I know I made (an earlier) comment that I was not happy with a couple guys’ fitness; but overall, our team came through really, really well. It’s probably the best one we’ve had so far.”
The Sounders ran the beep test in two groups. Rookie Andy Rose won the first test. David Estrada took the second. Both are midfielders from UCLA. Schmid said he also was impressed by newcomers Alex Caskey and Cordell Cato.
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“Coming from a school like UCLA, we have a lot of guys who really push us – we have a lot of fit players over there,” Rose said. “Growing up, I’ve always been pretty fit, and pride myself on fitness and working in the offseason and coming in prepared. I used to work out a lot with David Estrada at UCLA, so that probably explains it. ... There comes a part where a lot of guys start dropping off and you just want to win.”
In that way, the test measures both physical endurance and mental determination – a couple of qualities that come in handy as the game winds down.
“Scoring in the 89th minute or coming back in the 89th minute, there’s a physical component just as much as there’s a mental component,” fitness coach David Tenney said. “You see our game in Kansas City last year where we scored two goals in the 90th minute, playing in the heat.
“OK, there’s a physical aspect. But there’s also a pretty big mental aspect. That test is a test of mental fortitude as much as physical fortitude.”
The Sounders will continue fitness testing today, this time with the emphasis on speed.
The results will be analyzed over the weekend, and players who need additional work will get it next week when training shifts to Casa Grande, Ariz.
“We’ve got to bring them up to (the proper) level,” Schmid said. “So that means sometimes extra sessions; sometimes that means when the team is playing they’re maybe running; sometimes that means maybe a run in the morning, maybe extra work on the bike after the guys finish their weight training session – different ways to try and bring them up.”
Schmid was asked his overall impression through the first week of training. “It’s going to be tough making decisions, and the competition is going to be tough in terms of (roster) spots,” he said. The first cuts will come before the club flies to Arizona on Monday. ... Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday for the March 7 home match against Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals of CONCACAF Champions League.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer