Seattle Sounders FC will play a friendly match at Atlante FC tonight in Cancun, Mexico.
The closed game is in preparation for Seattle’s next trip south of the border, and that one will be anything but friendly: a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match at Santos Laguna three weeks from today.
“It gets us an opportunity to play on the type of fields that Mexican fields are – which is a little bit of a different surface,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It gets us to play obviously against an opponent that plays a different style than an MLS opponent that we’ve been seeing so far. It also gets us into the rhythm of traveling on a Tuesday and playing a game on a Wednesday. So from all those aspects it’s a good little dry run for going into Santos.”
One week from tonight, the Sounders will play another Mexican Primera Division club – Jaguares – in the Community Shield charity match at CenturyLink Field.
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One week later, the Sounders open their aggregate-score, home-and-away series with a visit from Santos.
Unlike those matches, the one tonight will be played without fans – without even a blogger from the Sounders website.
Schmid said there are advantages to that.
“Generally those teams, they don’t draw for games like this anyway, so it’s not like there’s going to be 10 to 15,000 people in the stadium even if it’s open,” he said. “What I’ve found oftentimes in taking teams to Mexico over the years in the past, when you have the games on their training grounds and it’s a little bit open, you’re not quite sure who you’re going to play. I think (a closed game) increases the likelihood we’re going to be playing their legitimate reserves instead of playing a lot of their youth players. … It’s better for them in terms of what they want to do with their team, and I think it gives us a better opportunity to play a good opponent.”
The Sounders are expected to go with their top 11 available players.
Newly acquired forward Eddie Johnson traveled to Mexico, but his status is uncertain because of what is considered a mild hamstring injury.
Steve Zakuani (leg) and Michael Tetteh (hamstring) returned home early to continue rehab and training.
Their teammates will join them Thursday. Then the club will take a couple of days off before resuming local training Sunday.
The former Tacoma Tide has changed its name, but not its home pitch.
Under new ownership and now playing as Sounders FC U23s, the 2012 United Soccer Leagues member will once again play its home games at Curtis High School in University Place. The club also remains in the Northwest Division of the USL Premier Development League.
Here is the schedule: May 11, at Vancouver; May 12, at Victoria; May 19, at Kitsap; May 25, Victoria; May 27, at Fraser Valley; June 2, Portland; June 3, Vancouver; June 8, Washington; June 10, North Sound; June 15, Kitsap; June 22, at Portland; June 29, at North Sound; July 1, at Washington; July 6, at Kitsap; July 8, Fraser Valley; July 11, North Sound.