This in from the team:
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Scene Shifts to Sunshine State
The heat is on for Seattle Sounders FC as the preseason scene shifts to Florida for the final training sessions prior to the MLS roster compliance date of March 1. Sounders FC has added a fourth training game to this week’s schedule, giving the coaching staff one more opportunity to evaluate personnel before the final cutdown.
The Rave Green arrived at the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla. on Friday night and has trained twice there before its first training game. Seattle plays FC Dallas on Monday afternoon and the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday morning in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Back in Bradenton, Sounders FC hosts the University of Central Florida on Thursday and the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The team returns home on Sunday.
Seattle is 2-1-1 in training games thus far. There were no games last week as the team trained twice at Starfire prior to its departure for Florida.
The regular season is now just over three weeks away. It begins on March 15 when Sounders FC hosts the L.A. Galaxy on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field in a match televised nationally on ESPN. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. PT.
Upcoming Training Game Schedule, February 21-26 (times are local & subject to change):
Monday, February 21 – Sounders FC vs FC Dallas, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Fla., 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 22 – Sounders FC vs Houston Dynamo, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Fla., 11 a.m.
Thursday, February 24 – Sounders FC vs University of Central Florida, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla., 4 p.m.
Saturday, February 26 – Sounders FC vs Chicago Fire, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla., 2 p.m.
Sounders FC Opens Defense of Open Cup in Late June
Two-time defending champion Sounders FC earned one of six automatic qualifying spots allotted to U.S.-based MLS teams and will don the Electricity kit and open defense of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in late June, U.S. Soccer announced last week. Seattle is the first team since 1984 with a chance of winning three consecutive U.S. Open Cup titles. The New York Greek-Americans (1967-69) were the only other team to accomplish this feat.
The 98th edition of the Open Cup tournament gets underway on June 14 with 16 first-round matches. Five rounds of play precede the Oct. 4 final that will decide the U.S. Soccer national club championship.
The more than 155 teams that entered the competition beginning in the initial stages will be narrowed to 40 teams for the tournament proper by the May 30 qualifying deadline. In 2011, 19 professional teams – including eight from Major League Soccer – and 21 amateur teams will make up the field.
The first and second rounds will be made up of exclusively lower division and amateur teams and will be played on June 14 and June 21, respectively, with eight teams advancing to play eight MLS teams, including Sounders FC, the following week. The quarterfinals will be played on July 12 and the semifinals will be played on Aug. 30
The other five automatic MLS qualifiers are the Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, L.A. Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake. The remaining 10 U.S. teams from MLS must qualify via play-in games prior to May 30.
The tournament has crowned a champion for 97 consecutive years beginning in 1914. The 2011 champion will earn a $100,000 cash prize, while the runner-up will collect $50,000. The top Division III and Amateur Division clubs will each receive a $10,000 prize. No Division II teams will participate in the 2011 U.S. Open Cup as the North American Soccer League did not obtain provisional sanctioning in time to be included.
Community Shield Match Marks Return of Marshall, Nyassi
The second annual Sounders FC Community Shield match will mark the return of two former Seattle players now on the roster of the MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids. Tyrone Marshall and Sanna Nyassi were both members of the starting XI in the 2009 inaugural game. Marshall went on to earn team defensive MVP honors that season and Nyassi starred in the 2010 U.S. Open Cup final, scoring two goals.
Tickets are on sale now for the Community Shield match against the Rapids on Wednesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
General Admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth (6-17). Children under the age of six are free. Tickets are available at www.SoundersFC.com, by calling 877-MLS-GOAL, all Ticketmaster outlets and the Qwest Field Box office.
Both Marshall and Nyassi were active in the Seattle community, and proceeds from the match will benefit the team’s community outreach programs. Sounders FC fans helped raise over $80,000 from the 2010 Community Shield match which was allocated to the team’s charity partners.
Henderson, Schmid Among Nominees for National Soccer Hall of Fame
Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid and technical director Chris Henderson are nominees in the Builder and Player categories for the National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Voting is underway and will continue through March 11, with election results to be announced in early spring.
Schmid is among seven individuals on the 2011 Builder ballot. Builders are nominated by making their mark in the soccer community in a non-playing capacity while sustaining a major and positive impact on U.S. Soccer on a national or professional level for 10 years. Schmid is the MLS career leader in regular season victories and guided UCLA to three NCAA championships. He also served as U.S. coach for the 1991 World University Games, 1995 Pan American Games and 2005 FIFA U-20 World Championships.
Henderson earned 79 caps for U.S. National Team between 1990 and 2001. Upon his retirement from MLS following the 2006 season he was the career leader in games played (317) and among the top 10 in assists. Henderson was a two-time MLS All-Star and scored 10 goals for Kansas City in 2000, the season the Wizards won the MLS Cup.
Established in 1950, the National Soccer Hall of Fame is dedicated to the sport of soccer in America by celebrating its history, preserving its legacy, inspiring its youth and honoring its heroes for generations to come.
FOX Soccer to Televise Five Matches; Date Change: Seattle to Host Houston on March 25
Sounders FC will have five matches nationally televised by FOX Soccer as part of the network’s 2011 agreement with Major League Soccer.
The date for the home match versus the Houston Dynamo has been moved to Friday, March 25. The game will be shown on FOX Soccer and start at 7:00 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. In addition, the first kick for the October 15 home match with the San Jose Earthquakes has been changed to 7:30 p.m. PT.
Other Sounders FC matches appearing on FOX Soccer include home matches versus the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on June 11 and the Colorado Rapids on July 16 and a road game at Colorado on April 22.
Earlier, Sounders FC had been selected for five matches on the ESPN networks, beginning with the MLS 2011 First Kick on March 15 against the L.A. Galaxy on ESPN at 6:30 p.m. (PT).
All Sounders FC MLS league matches not aired nationally will be carried live in high definition on KING-5 or KONG-6/16 with Arlo White calling the action. All locally broadcast matches will also be aired either live outside of Seattle or on a delayed basis throughout Washington on FSN/ROOT SPORTS* (Comcast channels 627 & 30). Select Sounders FC Spanish language TV matches will be aired on KOMO2 TV, Comcast channel 114, a Univision sister station.
Each match will also be aired live on the radio home of Sounders FC, News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM. All Sounders FC Spanish language broadcasts will be aired on La Gran D 99.3 FM, except nationally aired broadcasts.
To purchase tickets, call 1-877-MLS-GOAL or visit www.SoundersFC.com.
*FSN Northwest will become ROOT SPORTS in Spring 2011
Sounders FC Extends Osvaldo Alonso Contract Through 2014
Sounders FC announced last week that it has extended the contract of midfielder Osvaldo Alonso through the 2014 Major League Soccer season.
Alonso, voted the team’s most valuable player in 2010, is entering his third year with Sounders FC. Per club and Major League Soccer policy, no further terms of the deal were disclosed.
In 2010 Alonso, 25, was instrumental in Sounders FC compiling the best record in MLS over the second half of the season. Once he returned from a seven-game absence due to injury, Seattle went 9-2-2. In addition to winning balls and starting attacks Alonso scored one goal and added three assists in 23 league appearances. Nine of the 11 shutouts were achieved in games he played.
Alonso made 29 league appearances in 2009, his first year in MLS, scoring one goal and three assists. Capped 17 times by the Cuban National Team, he was voted USL Rookie of the Year in 2008 while with Charleston.
Limited Number of Tickets Available for Kickoff Luncheon
A limited number of tickets remain available for the second annual Sounders FC Kickoff Luncheon to be held at Qwest Field on Monday, March 7 from 12:30-1:45 p.m. Guests will sit side-by-side and interact with Sounders FC players, coaches, and team executives.
Fans attending the lunch are also invited to attend the Sounders FC training session that begins at 11 a.m.
Tables of 10 include eight guests, plus two Sounders FC personnel (players, coaches, or team executives). Each table costs $800 and individual tickets are available for $100.
To purchase a table please register online at www.SoundersFC.com or contact Megan West at email@example.com or 425.203.8102.
Proceeds from the luncheon ticket sales and silent auction will benefit the five Sounders FC charity partners.
Academy: U16s Enter Break on 11-Game Unbeaten Run; Kovar Scores for US U18s
The Sounders FC Academy U16s will take an 11-match unbeaten run into their three-month break from league play after claiming a win and a draw on the road this past weekend in Orange County. Seattle (14-2-4) won its fifth in a row, 3-1 over the Irvine Strikers, before tying the Pateadores, 2-2.
Meanwhile, the U18s (12-4-4) split their two road games, yet enter the break on a good note, a 2-1 victory over Pateadores. Both the U18s and U16s will begin the final five matches of the 2010-11 season atop their respective Northwest Divisions of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Each of the reaming games is against teams within their division, starting with the California Development Academy at home on May 28.
Sounders FC has scored 27 goals in its last nine U16 outings, with 14 different players contributing. At Irvine, Jordan Schweitzer staked the visitors to an early lead and Keenan Townsend saved a penalty kick five minutes later. Sounders FC capitalized on that momentum, with Ike Crook and Michael Steele boosting the lead to 3-1 by halftime. Crook and Jamie Klug each have seven goals this season.
The U18s lost back-to-back matches for the first time with their loss at Irvine. Seattle has allowed only five goals in the past five games but was blanked in each loss. The Strikers’ lone goal came in the third minute. Ryan Greling made two fine saves on either side of halftime. Against Pateadores, the Rave Green rallied with a pair of goals in the final four minutes. Darwin Jones equalized with his 10th goal off Sean Okoli’s assist in the 86th minute and Brandon Brockway capped the comeback in the 90th, getting on the end of Ryan Herman’s long free kick.
Sounders FC was without midfielder Aaron Kovar last week. Kovar was called in to the U.S. U18 National Team camp in Arizona, and he scored the second goal for the Stars and Stripes in a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The players and staff are planning to attend a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game on Friday night…Defender Tyson Wahl turns 27 on Wednesday, February 23…Leo Gonzalez and his wife Alejandra have a new baby daughter. Jimena was born on February 12…Single game tickets for the 2011 MLS season will go on sale on March 1…On February 25, 1985, FC Seattle hired former Scotland international and NASL all-star Bruce Rioch as head coach…A reminder that the Cascadia Summit match on March 5 between the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC start time has now been moved to 4 p.m. at Starfire…The 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League begins the knockout phase on Tuesday night in Columbus when the Crew hosts Real Salt Lake in a quarterfinal first leg. RSL hosts the second leg on March 1. Sounders FC, eliminated in the group stage last fall, begins play in the 2011-12 Champions League in July.