tukwila – Any Seattle Sounders who are fans of the reality TV show “Survivor” had better make sure to set their DVRs, because the next five Wednesdays are booked.
The Sounders’ first two meaningful matches of the new season fall on a Wednesday, so the club has scheduled three preseason friendlies with that in mind.
“We want to get them into a Wednesday-to-Wednesday rhythm for the beginning of the year and the (CONCACAF Champions League) competition that we’ve got with Santos (Laguna),” coach Sigi Schmid said Friday, after his team concluded training at Starfire Sports Complex. “You’ve got the Columbus Crew (next) Wednesday, then the following Wednesday you’ve got Atlante, then the following Wednesday you’ve got Jaguares, then the following (two Wednesdays) you’ve got Santos. It allows us to build into a really good rhythm in terms of playing them.”
The first two friendlies Schmid mentioned will be played in Florida, the first destination of a 13-day trip that starts today.
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Before returning home, the Sounders will detour to Cancun, Mexico, for the match against Atlante, which is intended to provide a taste of travel to the home country of Santos Laguna, their CONCACAF quarterfinal opponent.
“This next phase in Florida for us is about games – it’s about training and working on things in training in terms of our tactics and finishing, and things around goal like we did (Friday),” Schmid said. “At the end of the day, it’s about you making sure the first group gets games and the second group gets games to help their fitness.”
The final Wednesday friendly will come Feb. 29 against Jaguares, another Mexican side. This one will be played at CenturyLink Field as part of the Sounders’ annual Community Shield charity game.
This season the Sounders are tweaking their Community Shield format by allowing free admission, although donations will be accepted at the gate.
“It just seemed like it’s easier than selling tickets online,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “We hope that we raise as much money, and potentially more people can come to the game because we’re not going to ask for a specific amount of money. If somebody can afford 50 cents, fantastic. If they can afford $50, that’s great. … It just felt like kind of a fun way to bring people into the stadium.”
Schmid sounded satisfied with the way his team is coming together.
He said David Estrada is establishing himself at the forward position. Adam Johansson (Sweden), Brad Evans (USA) and Jeff Parke (USA) are all settling in well after duty with their national teams. Christian Sivebaek seems to have overcome a minor knee injury. And defender Marc Burch, who scored a couple of goals in training Friday, is pushing Leo Gonzalez for the starting job. Schmid said the competition between Andrew Weber and Bryan Meredith for the No. 2 goalkeeper job remains too close to call.
NBA AND NHL
Amid reports that Seattle is trying to arrange construction of a new arena, Hanauer was asked what affect the arrival of NBA and NHL teams might have on the MLS attendance-leading Sounders.
“Generally, as a Seattle guy, anything that improves the quality of life in the region, the development in the city, I’m in favor of,” he said. “And if there’s competition, we just have to rise to the occasion and be good competitors and good partners.”
Eight MLS markets currently are also home to major league football, baseball, basketball and hockey teams: Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto (CFL) and Washington, D.C.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer