Seattle Sounders FC will open La Manga Cup competition today in Spain against Norwegian champion Rosenborg BK.
“You always want to win games,” coach Sigi Schmid said via a Sounders press release. “But it’s also important to win games without losing sight of the development of our team. It’s a situation now where we don’t want to push guys unless the tournament rules force us to do so. We don’t want to push guys beyond 60 minutes ... for the sake of winning. From that standpoint, winning becomes secondary.”
The Sounders prepared for the competition with a pair of training sessions Wednesday. The morning work was highlighted by a 12-on-12 short-field game, in which the only goal came on a bicycle kick by Fredy Montero, last season’s leading scorer.
Starting forward Nate Jaqua (pelvis) and reserve goalkeeper Terry Boss (ankle) didn’t travel to Spain while recuperating from injuries.
However, two new players have joined the team: Jeff Parke, a veteran MLS defender who came to Seattle in the expansion draft but spent last season pursuing other options; and Rayner Michael, a 21-year-old midfielder from Brazil.
“We (drafted Parke) because we thought he was a good player, and our thoughts haven’t changed in that regard,” Schmid said. “Now, it’s just a matter of bringing him up to the level of the team in terms of fitness and everything else do that he doesn’t get injured. ... We wanted to see Rayner train and play in a couple of games. He has an open ticket: He could stay throughout our entire time in La Manga, or we could cut it short.”
The Sounders will resume La Manga Cup play Sunday against either FC Norsjalland of Denmark or Stabak of Norway. The tournament concludes with group crossover matches on Feb. 25 and 26, which will determine final placement.
The Sounders are 1-0 in preseason competition, having defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 3-2, on Feb. 11 in Arizona.
Once back in the States, the Sounders will meet Vancouver again on March 6 in Burnaby, B.C.; face the Portland Timbers on March 11 at Qwest Field, and visit the Colorado Rapids on March 19 at Commerce City, Colo.
The Major League Soccer regular season begins March 25, when the Philadelphia Union visits Qwest Field.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808