Fifty-five days after their season ended in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference final, the Seattle Sounders open their seventh preseason camp Saturday.
They hope this will be the start of a season that will span all 12 months of the calendar: reporting in January, beginning their seventh MLS season in March, extending their playoff run to seven seasons in October, and finally breaking through to their first MLS Cup in December.
But wherever the season ends, it begins with five days of training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
Next week, the club will shift its training to Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California from Thursday through Feb. 6. Then it’s back to Tukwila from Feb. 7-14 before wrapping up preseason training Feb. 15-March 1 in Tucson, Arizona, and their second appearance in the Desert Diamond Cup.
Along the way, at least six games will be part of their preseason schedule: a Feb. 4 friendly against UCLA, a Feb. 6 friendly against the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy, and then four games in the Desert Diamond Cup: Feb. 18 against FC Tucson, Feb. 21 against Sporting Kansas City, Feb. 25 against New England, and Feb. 28 against an opponent to be determined by the results of those earlier games.
Then the Sounders return home for final preparations leading to their regular season opener: 6:30 p.m. March 8 against the MLS Cup runner-up New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field.
Those weeks of preseason work will provide an introduction for several newcomers brought in over the offseason, including English defender Tyrone Mears, homegrown forward Darwin Jones, MLS veteran goalkeeper Troy Perkins, and recent first-round SuperDraft pick midfielder Cristian Roldan.
The camp also will be the first under new general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey, who was brought in from Real Salt Lake to assume the GM title previously held by minority owner Adrian Hanauer.
This camp also will introduce Ante Razov, who joins coach Sigi Schmid’s staff after a 14-year playing career. Razov will replace Ezra Hendrickson, who leaves the MLS staff after six seasons to become the inaugural head coach of the Sounders 2 USL-Pro team.