TUCSON, AZ— The Seattle Sounders are just three weeks away from the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals match-up against Mexican giants Club America. The February 23 contest takes place at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
So how are preparations going down in Tucson, where the Sounders are getting ready for the contest as well as the upcoming MLS season?
Training camp began in a Tukwila downpour. “I thought the guys came out and showed a lot of energy,” head coach Sigi Schmid told the Tacoma News Tribune. “We accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished in terms of getting a good workday in. They’re off (Sunday), and then Monday we’ll start with our testing and so forth. I never like to do testing the first day. I always like them to have a day of just touching the ball again because that’s what you want to do. And it was good. It was good to see obviously the draft choices and see those guys as well.”
Sounders Test 4-3-3 Formation
The Sounders eased into more tactical work during their workout on Saturday morning January 30, with full 11 v. 11 scrimmages taking center stage at the first training session of the day at the Kino Sports Complex.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, who said earlier this preseason that he’s willing to experiment with a variety of formations to get his most talented players on the pitch, tested out a 4-3-3 with his coaching staff.
Forward Nelson Valdez, who joined the squad during the summer transfer window, now finds himself slotting in alongside fellow designated players Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.
“I’m feeling good with the two strikers,” Valdez said on Saturday. “I think we can work together to put our team in the best position.”
Roberto Chen in camp
Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid confirmed that Panamanian international Roberto Chen has arrived in preseason camp with the club, and worked out for the first time on Monday in Tucson, Ariz.
Chen, a 21-year-old center back boasting 16 international caps with Panama, joins the Sounders’ camp after recently cutting ties with Spanish club Málaga. He signed a three-year deal with the club in 2013 but has played sparingly there and has been loaned out twice in the two years since.
Panamanian outlet RPCTV reported on Sunday that Chen was close to a signing a four-year contract with the Sounders, but Schmid insisted Monday that no decision has been made yet and no deal is done. Chen worked out with the Sounders in 2013 and the club was eager to bring him back in to see if he can add depth and youth on the back line.
“Were happy to have Roberto here,” Schmid said. “He’s a player that we’ve had our eye on for a while, and we almost had something – he ended up at Malaga, which was a great opportunity for him there – and now we have maybe another chance for him. We’ll see how he does this week and then make a decision.”
Chen made his debut with the Panamanian national team in 2011 and later featured prominently in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, when Los Canaleros lost to the United States in the final. He suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in September 2014.
Schmid said Chen suffered some understandable fatigue during his first workout with the club on Monday.
“He’s an inside player and I thought today he seemed a little fatigued because he flew all day on Saturday and down here on Sunday,” Schmid said. “Then we go into a training day here, and it was a tough training as well. But we’re looking forward to seeing how he does.”
Three Periods Against Vancouver
Schmid said Monday that the Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will play three, 45-minute periods when they play their first preseason game on Wednesday at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson (4 p.m. PT). A live stream of the game will be available on Soundersfc.com.