It will be the start of a season they hope will span all 12 months of the year: reporting in January, beginning their seventh MLS season in March, extending their playoff-run to seven seasons in October, and finally breaking through to their first MLS Cup in December.
It all begins Saturday with the first of five days of training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
Then next week the club will shift its training to Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California from Thursday through Feb. 6. Then it’s back to Tukwila from Feb. 7-14 before wrapping up their preseason training Feb. 15-March 1 in Tucson, Arizona, and their second appearance in the Desert Diamond Cup.
Along the way, at least six games will be part of their preseason schedule: a Feb. 4 friendly against UCLA, a Feb. 6 friendly against the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy, and then four games in the Desert Diamond Cup: Feb. 18 against FC Tucson, Feb. 21 against Sporting Kansas City, Feb. 25 against New England, and Feb. 28 against an opponent to be determined by the results of those earlier games.
Then the Sounders return home for final preparations leading to their regular season opener: 6:30 p.m. March 8 against the Revolution at CenturyLink Field.
Those weeks of preseason work will provide an introduction for several newcomers brought in over the preseason, including veteran defender Tyrone Mears, homegrown forward Darwin Jones, veteran goalkeeper Troy Perkins, and recent first-round SuperDraft pick midfielder Cristian Roldan.
The camp also will be the first under new general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey, who was brought in from Real Salt Lake to assume the GM title previously held by minority owner Adrian Hanauer.
This also will mark the Sounders debut of Ante Razov, who joins coach Sigi Schmid’s staff after a 14-year playing career. Razov will replace Ezra Hendrickson, who leave the MLS staff after six seasons to become the inaugural head coach of the Sounders 2 USL-Pro team.