Sounders FC has a starting lineup, for now at least.
In a Monday training game against Vancouver, the Sounders opened with goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, defenders Adam Johnasson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Leo Gonzalez; midfielders Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Alvaro Fernandez; and forwards Fredy Montero and Mike Fucito.
On Tuesday, coach Sigi Schmid confirmed the same group would have started a meaningful game.
“Obviously there are guys that are pushing,” he said. “(Midfielder) Lamar Neagle is pushing to get into that group. (Defender) Marc Burch is pushing as well. There’s always the possibility of moving Fernandez inside. … (Sammy) Ochoa needs to push (Fucito) as well. … But I think, all in all, if that was the Santos Laguna game (Monday), that would have probably been the lineup.”
That Santos Laguna game, which will open the 2012 portion of CONCACAF Champions League, is exactly four weeks away.
On Tuesday, Sounders FC announced a series of friendlies leading up to that first meaningful match of the new year.
After a couple of days off, the club will travel Saturday to Florida, where it will play training games against Orlando City SC, Columbus Crew, the U-17 U.S. national team, and Florida Gulf Coast University. Then the club will go to Cancun, Mexico, for a closed-door scrimmage against Atlante FC on Feb. 22.
The wide range of opponents helps serve varying needs, Schmid said. The starters will play in games against the Crew of MLS and Atlante of the Mexican Primera Division. Reserves and younger players will get their chances against Orlando City of USL Pro and the U-17 and college teams.
The Sounders are still trying to arrange one other exhibition game, which could be played before a home crowd in Seattle.
“There’s only so much you can do because we can’t replicate a league schedule,” Schmid said. “We’ve got to try to create some games that will replicate at least the intensity that they’re going to have to go into that game with Santos Laguna. …
“Right now, Santos Laguna is in the middle of their season. They’re doing very well; they’re in good form. They’re probably the best team in Mexico right now in terms of the form and the way they’re playing. So we have to try to make sure we’re sharp when we go into the game.”
Most Sounders are off until Friday, when the club will train at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. However, Schmid said Ochoa will work today and Thursday, trying to recover fitness lost last week when he left the team to join his wife for the birth of their second child. … Schmid said Fucito suffered “a raking of the cleats” in the game against Vancouver, but not the puncture wound that had been reported. The cuts were wrapped, and Fucito was walking Tuesday. In other health updates, Schmid said midfielder Christian Sivebaek (knee) was held out Monday as a precaution, but he could have been used in a meaningful game. Schmid said defender Patrick Ianni “felt he couldn’t go” due to a quad strain. … Schmid said another round of player cuts will be made before the club leaves for Florida. … Work has begun to replace the FieldTurf at CenturyLink Field. … Defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles announced the signings of Brazilians Juninho and Leonardo on Tuesday. “L.A. seems to figure out how to sign everybody,” Schmid said.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer