Here's today's report:
Thirty-four Sounders FC players arrived at Grande Sports World early Sunday afternoon for the two-week preseason training session. Midfielder Kerry Baptiste met the team in Arizona. Baptiste, an invitee, is a 29-year-old striker who most recently played for Joe Public in Trinidad & Tobago.
Forward Nate Jaqua stayed in Seattle to rehab his injury. Jaqua will go through one-on-one training for the next two weeks with a member of the Sounders FC training staff.
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The team took the field late Sunday afternoon for a light training session. The clear skies turned cloudy and a brisk wind picked up as the team began training, starting with some passing drills and ball work. After two games of 4 v 4 plus one neutral player, Coach Sigi Schmid split the group into three teams for several short-field games. The 8 v 8 scrimmages were highlighted by goals by Mike Fucito and Michael Seamon.
On Monday, the team trained in the morning and did weights in the afternoon. The sun shined through the clouds and a light morning rain stopped as the team took the field. The morning session began with warm-ups and passing exercises before the group split into five teams for several six minute 7 v 7 short field games. Each team played each other once and had one rest station where they did passing drills. O’Brian White found the back of the net several times throughout training, including two goals in one six minute game. Mike Fucito continued to score, striking twice in the first four minutes of the first game. Fitness coach Dave Tenney split the team into two groups for the afternoon weight training session in the Grande Sports performance training center. Each group trained for roughly 45 minutes. Sounders FC will train tomorrow at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time.
Injury UpdateDefender Taylor Graham was held out of training on Sunday and Monday with a calf injury. Graham did light work, running and stretching on the side field.
Quotes from Head Coach Sigi SchmidOn the first day of preseason training in Casa Grande) “It was good. The guys had a day off. We traveled today [Sunday] so we didn’t want to do too much, but we still wanted to get into the rhythm of playing. So we had a group work very hard. We had another group working and just run a little bit because we are trying to build fitness on those guys and some guys were coming off injuries so it was a good mix today.”
On Nate Jaqua) “It was my feeling, in consultation with our trainers and with Dave Tenney as well, was that if Nate could get two weeks of intensive work, one-on-one work, with Joe who is staying behind – our other trainer – and we felt that his ability to improve would be enhanced because he could do two sessions a day, he could get one-on-one individual attention. Randy [Noteboom] and Chris [Cornish] could do that here for him as well but then there’s so many other guys they have to take care of it’s difficult. Those guys need to sleep too and they need a little bit of a break once in a while. A lot of times in Europe you’ll see that happen a lot where you have a player who has got an injury or he has been out for a while and the club will just send him somewhere for three, four weeks sometimes and he’s got one-on-one individual work as he tries to build himself up.”
On what the group showed during first training session in Casa Grande) “It was just we wanted to bring the goals in. Anytime you bring the big goals in the guys play a little freer. There were a couple of goals that were there but we wanted them to get used to the surface, get used to movement off the ball. I thought we did a good job of attacking. There were a lot of attacking movements. The ball was near the others’ goal, even though we didn’t score a lot, it was around there. So that’s the mentality we want to get into our guys to get the ball off your feet, get it forward, look for those forwards opening up a little bit quicker and that was good in terms of staying to that theme.”
On second day of training) “It was good. The first days are really trying to build fitness. I thought the guys worked hard in the warm-up. It’s always much nicer to do fitness work with the ball than without the ball and the games were good. Four games at six minutes each, we started at six and a half and cut it to six. The effort was really, really good.”
On O’Brian White) “He did well. I sort of stayed watching the one field because I knew I would watch every team at least twice. It’s like I’ve said before, he’s fast, he’s big and he knows his way around the goal box. ... I think he’s going to be a good player. We just need to build on his fitness and everything else but he’s got the physical prerequisites to play very well.”
On weight training) “We let Terry [Boss] take off his shirt when he goes into the weight room. That makes him feel really, really good. But it’s a mix of everything when you are trying to get stronger as a team. In season, again, you can’t really build strength. You can build some strength in the offseason, which a lot of guys did, but you can also build a little bit of strength in preseason. For us, our rhythm of training is sort of a two-two-one, always within the two-two there’s going to be a weight training session either one of those two days. It’s just a little alternative training and it also gets them off their feet. They don’t have the pounding this afternoon and then we can accomplish some things tomorrow.”
Players Present on First Day of Training in Casa Grande:Goalkeepers: Terry Boss, Josh Ford, Kasey Keller, Bryan Meredith. Defenders: Corey Attaway, Leone Cruz, Danny Earls, Leo Gonzalez, Taylor Graham, John Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Michael Tetteh, Tyson Wahl.Midfielders: Osvaldo Alonso, Kerry Batiste, Servando Carrasco, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Erik Friberg, Mike Fucito, Roger Levesque, Lamar Neagle, Jonathan Prieto, Michael Seamon, Steve Zakuani.Forwards: Seedy Bah, Miguel Montaño, Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo, Pat Noonan, O’Brian White.
Throw-insSeveral Sounders FC players underwent Omegawave testing to monitor their current functional state with the intent to optimize training sessions…The Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Real Salt Lake are currently training at Casa Grande Sports World. Several other MLS teams are training in the Phoenix-area, including the Columbus Crew, Chivas USA and Sporting Kansas City…Assistant Coach Ezra Hendrickson joined the team for the small field 8 v 8 games on Sunday.