Sounders Insider

Sounders notes on eve of club's 2012 home debut

The Sounders train at CenturyLink again today, their final work before their home debut tomorrow night against Jaguares in the free Community Shield home match.

I should have some news from that this afternoon. Meanwhile, some notes from the club:

Final Nine Days: One Last Tune-up before SantosAfter spending much of the previous month prepping under the Arizona and Florida sun, the Rave Green returned to their roots for a final tune-up in the frigid Pacific Northwest winter.

Sounders FC will host Mexican side Jaguares de Chiapas on Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT in the annual "Community Shield" charity match at CenturyLink Field. The match is free admission with all donations benefiting the club's community partners.

Just one week later, Sounders FC will kick off the competitive soccer season with a match against Mexico's Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Seattle hosts Santos in the home leg on March 7 with the second leg in Torreon, Mexico on March 14.

The winner of the aggregate-goal series advances to the semifinals to face LA Galaxy or Toronto FC. Potentially just six games separate Sounders FC from being named the top club in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup.

Seattle concluded 13 days on the road in Cancun, Mexico with a win over Atlante FC last Wednesday. In six preseason games, Sounders FC has won four and tied twice, scoring at least one goal in every game and multiple in the past four.

The Rave Green look to continue their winning ways on Wednesday against Jaguares, who will be the second of three Mexican Primera Division clubs that Seattle will face in a three-week span.

Seattle will open MLS play at home with a match against Toronto FC on Saturday, March 17. Following the opener, Sounders FC will have two more home games in March as Houston and San Jose visit the Emerald City.

Free Play: Great Action, No Charge!Sounders FC will host its third annual "Community Shield" match on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Seattle will face Jaguares de Chiapas of the Mexican Primera Division.

This year's match will be free of charge but the team is encouraging fans to pay it forward. Donations will be accepted at the gates for the team's charity partners. Proceeds from the match will benefit the team's five community partners: America SCORES Seattle, Boys & Girls Clubs (King Co. & Bellevue), Special Olympics Washington, Washington Global Health and Washington Youth Soccer.

The Community Shield match is presented by adidas. During a halftime presentation, adidas will make a $2,000 donation to Sounders FC community partners and will host many of their youth soccer clubs at the match.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. Seating is first come, first serve throughout the lower east bowl.

Tweet That: Meet Club JaguaresJaguares de Chiapas plays in the Mexican Primera Division and currently sit in the middle of the Clausura table with nine points through the first eight games. Chiapas beat Tecos, 1-0, on Saturday for their third win of the season. Colombian Jackson Martinez has scored five of the team's nine league goals and the 25-year-old, No. 9 striker has added two assists. The club is also known for replacing the names on the back of their jerseys with players' twitter handles.

Los Sounders: Three Weeks with Mexican FlairSeattle will face three teams from the Mexican Primera Division in four games over a three-week span from February 22-March 14. Two of the games will be at CenturyLink Field with two in Mexico. Seattle began the stretch last week with a victory in Cancun, Mexico over Atlante FC. Sounders FC will next host Jaguares de Chiapas and Santos Laguna in Seattle before returning to Mexico for a match in Torreon.

Sounders FC has never played three top division Mexican sides in such a short span. Before last week, the only Mexican club Seattle had faced in competition was CF Monterrey, winning once and dropping three in four CONCACAF Champions League matchups. The Rave Green became the second U.S. club to win a competitive match in Mexico when they beat Monterrey, 1-0, at Estadio Tecnologico. The Rave Green also hosted Chivas Guadalajara in a 2010 friendly, winning 3-1.

Seattle Adaptation: New Players IntegrateIn the busiest offseason of its three-year history, the Sounders FC coaching staff is now fitting the pieces together, and the end product has come together well. Unbeaten in six preseason games (4-0-2) and outscoring opponents 17 to four, the Seattle newcomers have integrated well into the group.

Michael Gspurning is at home in the Seattle goal frame, and his teammates and coaches alike have taken to the towering Austrian. Right back Adam Johansson has joined one of the league's stingiest backlines and, not only can the Swede defend, but he is not shy to join the attack, where he has created a strong bond-both on and off the pitch-with right midfielder Mauro Rosales.

Danish midfielder Christian Sivebaek has also made immediate impact in training sessions and preseason games as the speedy winger has netted two goals and an assist. U.S. international Eddie Johnson will don the Rave Green this season. It didn't take the striker long to do what coach Sigi Schmid expects as Johnson scored just 11 minutes into his first preseason game with the club.

Santos Slowing: Los Guerreros Hit Rough Patch Santos Laguna is tied-fifth in the Mexican Clausura after losing to Guadalajara, 2-1, last week. Santos has not won in its past three outings with a 3-1 loss to Morelia and a 1-1 draw with Monterrey preceding the game against the Goats. Santos had been atop the standings through the first seven games as the club went unbeaten in its first five matches (4-0-1).

Santos will play one more match before the March 7 contest in Seattle when they face San Luis on March 3. Santos also has a game in between the two CCL legs on March 10 against Puebla.

Throw-insSounders FC U-23s announced its first three signings last week: Darwin Jones, DeAndre Yedlin and Troy Peterson. All three players went through the Sounders FC Academy system. The U-23s will host open tryouts on March 10-11 at the University of Puget Sound...Sounders women announced the signing of USWNT star Alex Morgan, who joins fellow teammates Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux...The U.S. Men's National Team will play Italy in a friendly in Genoa on Wednesday, February 29.

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