The Seattle Sounders returned to training Thursday after more than a full week off since their 2-0 win at D.C. United on June 1.
The team gets back into game action Wednesday when they enter the U.S. Open Cup with a fourth round match against the Kitsap Pumas at Starfire Sports Stadium. Seattle returns to its Major League Soccer regular season June 19 at the New York Red Bulls.
That 18-day gap between MLS games comes because of the league’s break during the group stage of Copa America Centenario.
“Just a good way to get away and regenerate yourself physically and mentally,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “… When you look at many of the other leagues … there’s usually a break that occurs so the guys aren’t playing nine months without a break or 10 months without a break: It’s four and a half months, little break; four and a half months, little break.”
While most of the Sounders got that break, some did not. Clint Dempsey is away with the U.S. national team; Nelson Valdez is away with Paraguay. And there was the special case of Herculez Gomez, who has been part of the team of soccer analysts for Fox’s coverage of Copa America.
“I respect you guys a little now,” he said to local media Wednesday — smiling. “It’s a tough job. I didn’t realize everything that it entails and everything that goes into it and the hours. … But along with all that chaotic mess, I enjoyed it.”
Gomez is a newcomer to broadcasting but received generally good reviews for his pre-match, halftime and post-match analysis alongside the likes of Alexi Lalas, Fernando Fiore, Eric Wynalda and Aly Wagner.
“A great addition to the Fox staff,” wrote Phillip Bupp of the Awful Announcing website.
Gomez was back at training Thursday — the same day Fox announced former U.S. national team star Landon Donovan would be joining the coverage.
Before leaving for Copa coverage, Gomez had explained the door to broadcasting opened a little last season when he was in Toronto and the MLS digital department reached out. He tried it, and he did well enough where several networks reached out. Meanwhile, he liked it enough to begin thinking of broadcasting as a possible career after his playing days — especially since he doesn’t want to coach.
He is still leaving that door open, although his Fox experience also seemed to have reinforced that playing soccer is more fun than talking about other people playing soccer.
“It made me realize how much I miss being part of those international games,” Gomez said. “… To be on that side of the booth was a little surreal. It was fun, and who knows what’s in store for me. I’m taking it one day at a time. I’m still enjoying playing. I’m 34, and I’ve been doing this for 16 years, and it’s still fun. We’ll go from there.”
Central defender Roman Torres warmed up with his teammates Thursday for the first time in his rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered last year. “We’re talking about what exactly we’re going to do with him over the next three or four weeks — there are a couple of alternatives,” Schmid said. “And then at the beginning of July is when the push is really going to come.” … The Sounders return to training Friday.