They came…they practiced…they left.
After a short break, the Sounders conducted their lone practice at Starfire, before preparing to depart for Arizona for the second half of their preseason training, where they’ll participate in the Tucson Cup. Unfortunately, weather conditions (see picture) prevented the team from using their normal outside practice space. They’ll get three games in Arizona as they work on the tactical phase of their training, according to Coach Brian Schmetzer.
There will be some changes to the roster going down to Arizona, which will not include (former) Sounders left-back Waylon Francis, who was traded to the Columbus Crew. The Crew suffered a setback when Milton Valenzuela their young designated player, suffered a knee injury which could keep him out for a year.
Garth Lagerwey characterized the trade as a “win-win,” noting that the Sounders will receive $50,000 in general allocation money, in addition to saving about $200,000 in salary. That will allow them to either give raises to current players, or get a quality depth player they feel they need. As for Francis, he returns to his old team where he had pretty good success. Given he was behind both Nouhou and Brad Smith, he is likely happy to move on.
Speaking of Nouhou, he made his return to training after having some Visa-related issues. There were also rumblings about a potential sale to Marseille, but nothing came of those reports.
Along with the young left-back, Cristian Roldan was also in full training after playing both games for the US Men’s National Team.
Roldan was appreciative of the experience, and thought he acquitted himself well. “If you’re not buying into the system, you’re not going to get called in.” Roldan said of coach Gregg Berhalter’s philosophy.” He also noted his ability to play multiple positions for the Sounders will aid him in his quest to obtain further national team call-ups. “It certainly helps, playing so many positions here with the Sounders.” Roldan said.
Coach Schmetzer addressed the media contingent, lamenting the scoreline from scrimmage with Atlanta United, but also said the coaches will be using it to see how the team responds. “We addressed that,” Schmetzer said. “We’ll see by how you guys work through the week and we’ve got another game against Houston; we see what side of the fence you’re on as far as that result is concerned.”
Schmetzer also said they were able to get some important information regarding the young players. “I think it was a learning curve,” Schmetzer said when asked about left-back Nick Hinds. However, they were also some positives to take away from the young players as well. “Young Ray (Serrano) to get on the score sheet was great; ‘Fonz (Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez) just needed to chip the ball (to get a goal).” Schmetzer said. “Some good moments for them.”
The Arizona camp will see some roster rotation, and will include some young players. However it’s still too early to say whether any will be able to earn first team contracts.
And just to remind you: I’ll be headed down to Arizona for part of the camp, but I’ll mostly be covering the US Soccer Annual General Meeting. Looking forward to it, and meeting all of the people I write about. Hopefully I don’t get too many drinks thrown in my face.