Here are some notes from Sounders FC’s practice on a rainy Tuesday out at Starfire:
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— First off, this was the team’s final session before flying out to Charleston, S.C., for the Carolina Challenge Cup. There will be some training camp cuts before the flight as we get closer to a final roster.
— The Sounders scheduled an extra friendly during the trip (as noted Monday) and coach Sigi Schmid said there might be another exhibition scheduled March 1, before the tournament game against D.C. United: “We’ve got basically somewhere between 26 and 28 field players that we’re looking at, so we want to make sure we get them minutes.”
— Defender DeAndre Yedlin has picked up an ankle sprain and wasn’t active Tuesday. All indications are that it’s not serious.
— Schmid talked a little bit about how the Charleston trip differs from the Arizona trip a couple weeks ago: “Arizona was to look at players and so forth. Charleston we’re still trying to get minutes to players, make sure that they’re fit and ready, but we’re also trying to make determinations on the starting lineup and who’s the next set of reserves. So we’re still making decisions on guys who make the team and don’t make the team, but we’re also looking at lot more at what’s our final starting lineup look like.”
— And don’t read too much into the team’s performance in the tournament (you might remember Seattle won the Desert Diamond Cup last year and started off winless in five games). “Preseason is preseason,” Schmid said. “Years and years ago, MLS used to have a preseason (event) that all the teams went to. Whoever won in preseason always finished in the bottom four of the league, so it really didn’t matter. For us, it’s just a matter of us to continue to improve as a team, continue to understand each other, build upon our cohesion as a unit and play well.”
— There are less than three weeks in preseason, so does it feel like things are getting close? “It’s a ways away, but it’s also around the corner,” Schmid said. “That’s always the situation. You think you have time and time, and then all of a sudden, ‘Oops, there it is.’ It’s close, and I think the guys are getting to the point now where even though preseason is only three, four weeks old, it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve had enough of this stuff, enough of running around. Let’s get to real competition.'”
— In the past few days, I have spoken one-on-one with guys like Kenny Cooper, Michael Azira, Alex Caskey and Miguel Gonzalez, so expect to see more from them on the blog, along with transcripts of group interviews.