The Sounders report to their sixth preseason training camp Saturday. Here's some early information from the club:
Six weeks prior to the March to Soccer Opening Match, Sounders FC players and coaches will gather at Starfire Sports on Saturday morning to begin preparations for its sixth season in Major League Soccer.
Sounders FC will kick off the league's 19th season on March 8 when it hosts the MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. The excitement will continue to Week 2 as Toronto FC visits Seattle on March 15, marking the Canadian team's first match with international standouts Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe. Just 79 days after the Western Conference Semifinals concluded at Portland's JELD-WEN Field, Sounders FC returns to the training pitch at Starfire to kick off six weeks of preseason preparations. The team will open camp at Starfire Sports at 10 a.m. PT on Saturday, before holding two fitness sessions at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC) on Monday and Tuesday. Following three days of local training, Sounders FC will depart for warmer weather on January 29 as the team heads south for 12 days of training in the Arizona desert. Seattle will play Western Conference opponents San Jose (February 5) and Portland (February 8) in preseason training games in Tucson. Both matches will be played at FC Tucson's Kino Sports Complex.
Sounders FC also added a pair of preseason training games against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The teams will meet on February 6 at Francisco Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, and will meet again on February 9 at Kino Sports Complex. Sounders FC will then return to the Pacific Northwest for nine days of training at Starfire before departing for the second leg of training camp in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be Seattle's first-ever visit to South Carolina, where the team will face the Charleston Battery (February 22), Houston Dynamo (February 26) and DC United (March 1) in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Sounders FC returns home to Seattle for the final time on March 2, just six days before the season opener. Upcoming Schedule (All times Pacific; subject to change). Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. - Training at StarfireSunday, January 26 - No TrainingMonday, January 27, 10 a.m. - Training at StarfireTuesday, January 28, 10 a.m. - Training at StarfireWednesday, January 29 - Travel to Tucson, Ariz. Sunday, February 9 - Travel to Seattle Competition Schedule (All times Pacific; subject to change)February 5, 11 a.m. - Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes at Kino Sports ComplexFebruary 6, 11:30 a.m. - Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Francisco Grande Sports WorldFebruary 8, 6 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers at Kino Sports Complex February 9, 11:30 a.m. - Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Kino Sports ComplexFebruary 22, 4:15 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium February 26, 2 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo at Blackbaud StadiumMarch 1, 2 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. DC United at Blackbaud StadiumMarch 8, 12 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash. Nucleus IntactDespite an offseason of change, Sounders FC has kept the nucleus of its team intact, building the 2014 squad around three core midfielders in four-time team MVP Osvaldo Alonso, U.S. National Team captain Clint Dempsey and team captain Brad Evans. Seattle also returns two of its leading goal scorers from last season in Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle, as well as outside backs Leo Gonzalez and DeAndre Yedlin.
Sounders FC has signed eight newcomers this offseason, including a goalkeeper, two center backs, a left winger and four versatile forwards. Among the key offseason additions was two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, the sixth-highest goal scorer in MLS over the past three seasons Kenny Cooper, the 2013 league leader in games played Jalil Anibaba, and two Homegrown Players in Aaron Kovar and Sean Okoli.
Sounders FC RosterGoalkeepers (3): Stefan Frei, Marcus Hahnemann, Josh FordDefenders (9): Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez, Damion Lowe, Chad Marshall, *Jimmy Ockford, Dylan Remick, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, DeAndre Yedlin.Midfielders (10): Osvaldo Alonso, Alex Caskey, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph, Aaron Kovar, Lamar Neagle, *Fabio Pereira, *Stefano Rijssel, Andy Rose.Forwards (8): Chad Barrett, Will Bates, Tristan Bowen, Kenny Cooper, David Estrada, Obafemi Martins, Sean Okoli, Eriq Zavaleta.*Unsigned SuperDraft picks Roster Breakdown* There are currently 27 players on the Sounders FC roster, including Generation adidas draftee Damion Lowe. Seattle also selected an additional three players in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. * Seattle's roster includes three Designated Players: Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Dempsey is currently playing for England's Fulham on a two-month loan.
* There are 19 players on the roster who were born in the United States, including five Washington natives (the most in club history).
* The roster includes seven players born internationally: Alonso (Cuba), Leo Gonzalez (Costa Rica), Andy Rose (England), Djimi Traore (France), Shalrie Joseph (Grenada), Martins (Nigeria) and Stefan Frei (Switzerland). An additional three international players were selected in the SuperDraft, including the club's first-ever Brazilian (Fabio Pereira) and Surinamese (Stefano Rijssel) players.
* Seattle currently has three of its seven international slots occupied by Traore, Lowe and Martins. If signed, both Pereira and Rijssel would count as internationals. Seattle traded its eighth and final international spot to Montreal until December 31, 2014.
* Three players were with the team for the inaugural match in 2009 (Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Zach Scott). Leo Gonzalez joined the team midway through the 2009 season.
* The average age of the 27-player roster is 26.67. Marcus Hahnemann is the oldest player at 41 and Aaron Kovar is the youngest at 20 years old. Including SuperDraft selections, the average age of Seattle's newcomers is 23.34, including seven players age 22 or younger.
* Osvaldo Alonso is the club's leader for games played (139) and minutes (11,839). Brad Evans is the club's active leading scorer (17 goals) and assist man (19 assists).
* Eight players are primarily midfielders, plus draftees Pereira and Rijssel, and eight players are primarily forwards. There are eight defenders on the roster, plus draftee Ockford. The roster contains three goalkeepers.
Roster RemindersA Major League Soccer club's first team roster is comprised of up to 30 players. All 30 players are eligible for selection to each 18-player game-day squad during the regular season and playoffs. Players occupying roster spots 1-20 count against the club's salary budget, and are referred to collectively as the club's Salary Budget Players. Roster spots 19 and 20 are not required to be filled, and teams may spread their salary budget across only 18 Salary Budget Players. Players occupying roster spots 21-30 do not count against the club's salary budget, and are referred to collectively as the club's Off-Budget Players (maximum of 10 per team). All Generation adidas players are Off-Budget players. Clubs may sign up to two Homegrown Players contracts above the minimum salary. Clubs must be roster compliant by February 28. Additional Roster Notes Allocation Ranking - The allocation ranking is the mechanism used to determine which MLS club has first priority to acquire a U.S. National Team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee. Discovery Signings - Clubs may make discovery claims on players not yet under MLS contract who are not subject to the allocation ranking or lottery mechanisms. Each club has the opportunity to make six discovery signings per season (expansion teams may make 10 discovery signings in their inaugural season). A club may have up to 10 discovery claims on unsigned players at any time and may remove or add players at any time. Drafted but Not Signed - A player who was drafted by a particular team through the SuperDraft and did not sign, or who as of the first Monday in June is not offered a contract after a trial and clears waivers, is placed on that team's "College Protected List" until the second December 31 immediately following the draft in question, after which the team loses the rights to sign the player. Numbers Game Several returners and newcomers will wear new jersey numbers in the 2014 season: Marcus Hahnemann - 1; Jalil Anibaba - 4; Chad Marshall - 5; Tristan Bowen - 7; Aaron Kovar - 11; Sean Okoli - 13; Dylan Remick - 15; Stefan Frei - 24; Damion Lowe - 31; Kenny Cooper - 33.