The last exhibition game before the start of a season is often used to determine the final spots at the back of a team’s roster.
Sounders FC has other priorities for its Community Shield match tonight against Jaguares de Chiapas.
This one is all about the top of the roster: getting the likely first 11 ready for the start of meaningful competition one week from tonight when CONCACAF Champions League play resumes with an aggregate-score series against Santos Laguna.
“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re going to try to get guys in for minutes in this game, to try to make a decision on whether they’re going to make the roster or not,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Our preparation is going to be to get cohesion among our first group, to play some guys that we think are pushing and are very close, and to put some guys on the field we think are very likely to be part of the 18-man squad that suits up for the game against Santos.”
Even the Community Shield opponent was selected with that goal in mind, as Jaguares and Santos each play in the Mexican Primera Division and share similarities of style.
“I think they’re a little more strong on the ball,” said forward David Estrada, a Californian who grew up watching Mexican soccer. “They’re a lot more technical, I think, all around. It’s going to be difficult for us. They have a very good team, but I think we’re going to be able to give them a good matchup.”
The Sounders began preparations for the Mexican style of play last week, when the club took a quick trip to Cancun for a match against Atlante. However, that club fielded a disappointingly low-quality roster, and Seattle was hardly challenged on the way to a 5-2 win.
Schmid expects more competition tonight.
“I think Chiapas is going to be professional with what they do,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s confirmed, but I think the game is going to be shown on Azteca TV or something, so I’m sure they’re going to bring an appropriate group. Just like us if we’re playing an exhibition between league matches; we’re not going to put out our full starting lineup – I don’t expect that from them. But we expect them to play their reserves, sprinkled with some guys who are starter/reserve types of players.”
In any case, this run of four consecutive matches against Mexican sides is an added treat for players such as Estrada and Servando Carrasco, who grew up watching soccer in that country before coming to MLS.
“It’s always fun to go back to where you came from,” Carrasco said. “I hadn’t been to Cancun in a while, and it was fun to be there for a couple of days to play against Atlante. ... To play Jaguares (tonight) is going to be a great competition for us.”
The Sounders Women announced their 2012 schedule on Tuesday.
They will begin with a friendly against Seattle Pacific on April 9. The USL-W home schedule begins May 31 against the Colorado Rush.
The club expects U.S. national team members Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux to be available for “six or seven” of the home matches, which will be played at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
The complete schedule and ticket information is available at www.sounderswomen.com
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
JAGUARES DE CHIAPAS AT SOUNDERS FC
7 p.m., CenturyLink Field
BROADCAST: No TV or radio. However, there will be audio coverage at SoundersFC.com, and highlights will be shown during a Sounders preseason special airing on KONG 6/16 7-9 p.m.
NOTES: This is the Sounders annual Community Shield charity match. Admission is free. Donations to Sounders charities will be accepted at the gates. There will be general admission seating in the stadium’s lower east bowl. Gates open at 6 p.m. ... This will be the home debut for goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and other newcomers such as right back Adam Johansson and midfielder Christian Sivebaek. ... Seattle is 4-0-2 in preseason play. ... Chiapas is 3-5-0 in the Mexican Primera Division and coming off a 1-0 win over Tecos on Saturday. Jackson Martinez has scored five of the team’s nine goals and recorded two assists. Chiapas is known for using the players’ Twitter handles on the back of their jerseys. ... This will be the first game on the new FieldTurf surface. However, the new video boards in the north and south ends are not expected to be operational.
QUOTABLE: “Once they realize that they are here and they’re getting dressed in their uniforms and ... they start seeing a crowd, that’ll work for every player. At the end of the day, they’re entertainers.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the 2012 home debut.
NEXT: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match against Santos Laguna, 7 p.m. March 7, CenturyLink Field.
Don Ruiz, staff writer