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Sounders building fitness, evaluating in Arizona

Until then, this from the club:

Seattle Sounders FC players and coaches arrived in Casa Grande, Ariz. on Monday afternoon to begin the eight-day training camp in the Arizona desert. Head coach Sigi Schmid has the team in a two-two-one rhythm where the team trains twice daily on back-to-back days with a single session on the third day, excluding the lone off day on Super Bowl Sunday.

The team held a light training session late Monday afternoon to get the travel out of their legs. Tuesday began under the morning sun with an intense two-hour training session. The field players warmed up with fitness coach Dave Tenney while the goalkeepers were on an adjacent field with goalkeepers coach Tom Dutra. The team was then split into three groups for three separate games. The first group featured a 5 v 4 game with two small goals on either end line. The second group played a 6 v 5 small field game with keepers in both big goals and the final group played 5 v 4 with small goals on all four sides of the field. Each group went through two rotations before ending the morning session with a series of sprints.

A second session began at 4 p.m. with fitness and passing drills. Schmid then split the group into three teams of eight for a passing game followed by 8 v 8 small field scrimmages. The three teams rotated playing each other with each team playing at least two games. Brad Evans supplied the only goal in the first game as he ran onto a long ball and beat the keeper with a one-time strike to the far post. Mauro Rosales dominated much of the second game as he scored and assisted on Fredy Montero’s goal. The session ended with three goals from the yellow team, including a David Estrada header and a goal and assist from Lamar Neagle. A small group stayed indoors for the afternoon session to do weights with a trainer.

Sounders FC will train twice today followed by one session on Thursday.

Injury UpdateAside from Michael Tetteh (hamstring) and O’Brian White (blood clot), who stayed in Seattle to rehab, two players did not participate in full training on Tuesday. Steve Zakuani trained with the group on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning before doing weights on Tuesday afternoon and keeper Josh Ford also substituted the afternoon session with weights on Tuesday.

Quotes from Head Coach Sigi Schmid(On what he looks to accomplish in Arizona) “This is a week for us to build a good fitness base. That's very important, but we're also still evaluating players. There's still more players here than will make our final squad, so along with the fitness we have to do some evaluation. So there will be a lot of playing and work involved this week.”

(On looking at the Arizona camp differently than previous years) “We actually tried to pick it up a little bit already in Seattle and went a little bit harder. We're going to try to give guys the appropriate amount of rest too, so they can recover, but we're trying to build a base as quickly as we can. Guys may only play 30 minutes against Vancouver, but we're looking to get them to 45 and 70 very, very quickly. That's the intention.”

(On building camaraderie in preseason…) “When we're in season, we have them room with guys that they feel comfortable rooming with. In preseason we have them room with somebody different so they know somebody different on the team. They have meals together; they have their free time together. Whether they're playing Xbox or playing cards or whatever they're doing, they're doing things together. So they're getting to know each other and they're talking to each other and that's important as well.”

Throw-insThe New England Revolution left Casa Grande on Tuesday morning and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Several other MLS teams are currently training in Arizona…Sounders FC Technical Director Chris Henderson has been included in the 2012 National Soccer Hall of Fame Player Ballot. Sigi Schmid has been included in the 2012 National Soccer Hall of Fame Builder Ballot. Builders are nominated by making their mark in the soccer community in a non-playing capacity while sustaining a major and positive impact on U.S. Soccer on a national or professional level for 10 years.

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