As reported by the Sounders staff, Day Three of preseason training in Casa Grande brought the first two-a-day practices of the new year.
Under a bright morning sun, field players started fitness work and passing drills while the goalkeepers worked with the ball at their feet. Players then focused on long passing accuracy and ball control while the four goalkeepers competed in a passing game where they tried to hit a target located outside the 18-yard box.
Coach Sigi Schmid then split the group into four teams for two different 12-minute games. In one game, the coaches shrank the field to half-size. The 7 v 7 matchup restricted each player to two touches. In the second game, each team consisted of eight players with four small goals, one on each sideline. The intent: to constantly change the point of attack. Coaches enforced the two-touch rule to force the players to focus on spacing and quick ball movement.
Steve Zakuani had the highlight of the day when his right-footed strike from 15 yards sailed past a diving keeper and into the top corner of the net. OBrian White continued to score as he fought off defenders and slotted a ball into the side netting. Supplemental Draft pick Josh Ford impressed as he made several difficult saves in the 7 v 7 game.
The 1 v 1 Artist
The team trained again at 4 p.m. They focused on fitness with the ball and moved to several passing games. Schmid then split the group into two teams for a goal-scoring exercise.
With big goals at either end of one half of the field, players went one-on-one against each other with a keeper in each net. A goal earned a point for their team and the team with the least points at the end of each session had to do 15 push-ups.
The exercise progressed into two offensive players versus one defensive player and ended with a full-out two versus two game, where both teams had to defend and try to score. Servando Carrasco scored a remarkable goal while falling down in the box but it was Fredy Montero who ended the session when he beat his defender with a step-over move and slid the ball into the side netting with his left foot.
Sounders will train Wednesday morning and then take the afternoon off.
Defender Taylor Graham and forward Pat Noonan did work on the side field for the duration of both training sessions.
Players Present in Casa Grande
Goalkeepers: Terry Boss, Josh Ford, Kasey Keller, Bryan Meredith.
Defenders: Corey Attaway, Leone Cruz, Danny Earls, Leo Gonzalez, Taylor Graham, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Michael Tetteh, Tyson Wahl.
Midfielders: Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Erik Friberg, Mike Fucito, Roger Levesque, Lamar Neagle, Jonathan Prieto, Michael Seamon, Steve Zakuani.
Forwards: Seedy Bah, Kerry Baptiste, Miguel Montaño, Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo, Pat Noonan, OBrian White.
Several Sounders coaches remained after training to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps FC v Real Salt Lake exhibition game. Vancouver won 2-1 after three 45-minute periods.
Cascadia Summit sold out
The Sounders announced Tuesday that each of its two preseason matches at the Cascadia Summit have sold out. The March 4 game between Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers and the March 6 match between Seattle and Vancouver Whitecaps FC sold out shortly after going on sale Tuesday. Both games will be played at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.