Naturally, the Sounders' just-announced friendlies against Boca Juniors and Celtic were the main topic out of Sounders training today.
Here are a few quick items from general manager Adrian Hanauer:
* His overview statement: They'll be great games. Two fantastic teams, great histories, great fan support, huge important franchises within both countries. Obviously Boca brings something that we haven't seen here yet: a South American team. Two very storied franchises that will bring a lot of fun to Qwest Field ... will be a great challenge for us to test ourselves against some of the best teams internationally."
* The games will be played on the usual Qwest FieldTurf. Upper deck seating will be available, although perhaps not the entire stadium.
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* The third friendly will likely be scheduled for September or October.
* In future seasons it is possible that fewer additional games will be included in the season-ticket package, especially if MLS moves to a 32-game regular season next year when Vancouver and Portland bring the league up to 18 teams.
Hanauer also addressed whatever controversy (as covered here on the Prost Amerika blog) exists with the scheduling of Celtic (which is already being discussed a bit in the announcement post below): "I caught wind of (the controversy) this morning. It was the first I heard that there were people upset at their coming. Soccer has been a political game over the years and just about every team we could think of to bring has some political baggage that it carries. I was thinking of Barcelona coming last year: There is a strong movement and conflict between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and that is deeply rooted politically. Celtic’s been here numerous times. The fans have been great. The games have been good. We try not to get too deeply involved in politics: Sounders FC. We’re working on other games in other regions of the world, and I guess I can say the Middle East, Israel, where we’re exploring some possibilities there. That’s deeply political as well. We’re just here running a soccer team and not taking sides. We just want to provide our fans with some good entertaining football."
Also, here's Sigi Schmid's reaction on the timing of the games within the MLS schedule:
"The Boca game comes mid-week and ... we don't have to put together a reserve game. We get some different people. We're also going to play our guys much like last year when we played Chelsea and Barcelona and we gave the whole squad an opportunity to play. And Celtic comes on the heels of a Thursday-night game ... and then we play them Sunday. It's an event, it's something for our fans to enjoy, it's the whole idea of bringing something that is unique and special to our fans."
Finally -- for now -- a look at the two opponents from Puget Sound soccer legend Alan Hinton:
Boca is a world-class club. It’s typical of the high-standards that this club has set to bring in world-leaders in terms of team. I think it’s particularly good that the club has gone to South America to bring in Boca. I did see Boca play in Amsterdam about four years ago in the Ajax tournament against Arsenal, and they had a great club, good players, will come in an play hard and will very much enjoy playing in Seattle in front of what I know will be another sold-out crowd, because it’s such an entertaining team.
Celtic also is a world-class club. They haven’t had a great years in terms of success. They lost the championship this year to Rangers, which has disappointed all the Celtic fans around the world. But they’ve got a huge following. You know there will be thousands of fans coming up from Vancouver, B.C., where a lot of Scottish Celtic fans live. Seattle fans have got to really enjoy Celtic over the years – it’s not the first time they’ve come here, I think it’s the third time in the last few years.