Apparently the governing body of soccer holding tournament berths hostage against the actual government of El Salvador (post below) is just the start of the Sounders' wild ride into the world of international competition.
A few reminders from international-play veterans Sigi Schmid and defender Tyrone Marshall:
SCHMID: "Some of our guys who have played internationally know what to expect. It’s important to bring toilet paper to the stadium because there’s not going to be any toilet paper in the bathrooms. It seems like a small thing, but I remember Alexi Lalas screaming for a newspaper, anything at all. It’s a little different.
"In the early days when U.S. teams traveled there it was really difficult because they didn’t know what hotels to stay in and they got stuck sometimes in bad hotels or bad situations where you weren’t sure could you drink the water, couldn’t you drink the water, etc. But I think we’re a lot more sophisticated now. We have a lot better idea of what hotels ot stay at.
"Practice training facilities aren’t always the best. I remember before we played Montagua, the training field they gave us was like a public running area: It was a field with a track around it. It was open to the public. There was a swimming pool there. There were weeds on the field. They were running through your practice, around your practice. And it was, well, this is the only field, you can’t train in the stadium. So you have to do all your work here in advance, you can’t train down there. The crowds were good. They were intense. It’s going to make for a great atmosphere, and for the players that go through it for the first time, it definitely hardens them. It puts hair on their chests."
MARSHALL: "The young players as they’re going in and playing their first game, it’s definitely not a (typical) environment for them to go into. It’s more veteran guys and guys who have been there that can handle that type of adversity. It’s definitely going to test the characters of some of the players that we have on the team. Hopefully, we’re bigger men and can come out and play our brand of football. Sometimes I think we do well when a challenge is put to us."