The Sounders are returning home after concluding the Arizona portion of their schedule. We'll get a look back and a look ahead from coach Sigi Schmid in the early afternoon.
Meanwhile, here's an update from the club on their next portion of preseason training, including the training game against Atlante FC in Mexico:
With another Arizona training camp under their belts, Seattle Sounders FC returns home to rest and recuperate before travelling across the country for nine days of training at IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The anticipation for one of the biggest matches in club history builds as the Rave Green continues preparations for the March 7 home contest against Mexico's Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
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After opening preseason camp 19 days ago, Sounders FC players are well on their way to developing game fitness and style of play. And with Santos sitting atop the Mexican Clausura after five games, Seattle has stepped up its intensity from years past with hopes to be in season form come March 7.
The preseason schedule has now been confirmed and Sounders FC will play four training games in Florida before heading to Cancun, Mexico for a closed door scrimmage against Atlante FC on February 22. Seattle will play Orlando City SC, Columbus Crew, the U17 U.S. National Team and Florida Gulf Coast University while in Florida. The team will return to Seattle on February 23.
Here's what Schmid had to say about that varied opposition:
"Obviously different players play in different games. So we've got the games set up that we want our first-team guys to play in and the guys we feel are going to start against Santos. In that group of 15 or 16 guys, we want to make sure that they get into a rhythm of going full-out basically every week, making sure they push themselves through a game. Obviously the game against Columbus is going to be an important game for them. Then, a little over a week later -- but we're going to give them a little bit of a run-out before then, so that's the reason for the college team -- they're going to get a full run-out again against Atlante. Then a week later, we're hoping to solidify another game, and then a week later we play against Santos. We're trying to get them into that rhythm so they really get used to building up into a weekly rhythm earlier than you normally would. The other games -- e.g. the Orlando game -- are going to be quality games for our reserve games, the guys who are just on that second tier. They'll play the majority of the minutes in that game and we'll get some minutes from our starters, but probably not many. Then against Columbus, we'll get more minutes from our starters. Then the under-17s are for the guys who haven't gotten minutes up until that point to get some good minutes and the college game becomes a mix again."