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February 3, 2015 at 4:07 PM

Practice notes: Evaluating young center backs Damion Lowe, Jimmy Ockford

There isn’t a lot of mystery with the Sounders’ opening day lineup — especially when compared to this point last year, when player acquisitions were coming hard and fast.

“We’ve gotten good work done,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said from the team’s preseason camp in Southern California. “At this stage, we’re probably ahead of where we were last year.”

One of the most glaring questions that remains, though, is who fills in for central defender Zach Scott if the veteran cannot recover from foot surgery in time for the March 8 match against New England. Might midfielder Brad Evans shift backward to help out? Might the Sounders look outside the organization for reinforcements?

Or could the answer be more obvious, in young defenders like Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford who are already on the roster?

“They’re both making progress,” Schmid said. “I think it was a tough year last year for Damion because of the labrum injury and the surgery, that took him out for a long period of time. For him, regular training and getting a good preseason in is really important.”

Lowe, a Generation Adidas signing and the eighth pick in the 2014 SuperDraft out of Hartford, failed to make a single appearance for Seattle last season. Ockford, 22, spent the year on loan with the New York Cosmos in the NASL.

“They’re both young defenders, young center backs, who we really think have a good future with the club,” Schmid said.

– Neagle gets a look up front

Working Lowe and Ockford into the rotation isn’t the only lineup tinkering Schmid has done during camp in California.

With forward Clint Dempsey still away with the U.S. men’s national team, Chad Barrett dealing with some soreness and Kenny Cooper working on his fitness, nominal winger Lamar Neagle has gotten some run up top alongside Obafemi Martins this week. Rookie Darwin Jones, meanwhile, spent some time on the left wing.

“Lamar has played forward for us in the past,” Schmid said. “I wanted to see Lamar up there a little bit in preseason to see what that looked like.

“There are good alternatives there.”

| More in MLS, Practice notes, Sounders FC

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