At this point last season, Seattle Sounders FC right back DeAndre Yedlin was completing a training camp breakthrough that moved him into the starting lineup and foretold a productive rookie season.
With another training camp now at an end, coach Sigi Schmid was asked if there have been any similar surprises this time around.
“Sean Okoli has definitely pushed his way forward a little bit with his performances,” he said. “(And) I think Dylan Remick has done really well (since an injury to Leo Gonzalez) gave him the opportunity to keep playing, getting playing time.”
A lot of eager eyes have been focused on Okoli since he was signed in the offseason as a homegrown player – Okoli is a Federal Way native who went to Todd Beamer High School. However, Schmid’s assessment of Remick registered as a little more of a surprise – even to Remick.
“That’s a pretty cool compliment to be given, especially after DeAndre’s success last year,” he said. “ At this point it’s more about getting the team chemistry right and not really about the individual – but I’m just trying to do as much as I can to try to play this year.”
Remick joined Seattle last season as a second-round pick out of Brown. He made two MLS appearances, including one start.
Despite his limited first-team participation, Remick says the experience of last season helped prepare him for this one.
“I’ve been around for a year now, so I sort of know what preseason’s all about,” he said. “(Teammates and coaches) all been very positive and very helpful I’m just trying to take their advice and work with it and go from there.”
Remick’s performance seems an example of the old saying that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” And that opportunity came when Gonzalez – the returning starter at left back – was out or limited throughout training camp due to a groin injury.
“It helped me get some playing time, especially because last year Leo and (Marc) Burch were such veteran players and accomplished in this league,” Remick said. “ But it’s never good to play because somebody’s injured, especially a veteran player like Leo.”
With the Sounders now four days away from their regular-season opener against Sporting Kansas City, Schmid estimates that Gonzalez is at about 85 percent fitness. He added that a healthy Gonzalez remains his first-choice starter, while adding that the emergence of Remick eases any urgency to rush Gonzalez onto the pitch.
“Leo has proven himself to be a very competent left back for us and does a great job defending for us,” Schmid said. “But we also know there is enough competition where we need Leo at 100 percent. Remick’s done well enough in preseason where he’s put a stamp that says ‘if Leo’s not 100 percent or close to it, I’m prepared and ready to play.’ ”
The Sounders unveiled their newest kit Monday. It features a “pitch black” jersey with “radiant green” neon shorts. Midfielder Alex Caskey was not at the Monday training session, and Schmid indicated Caskey might not make the team this season. Yedlin was held out of training while nursing an ankle injury suffered Saturday in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Schmid said Yedlin is expected to be ready for the opener.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt