SEATTLE — With a 4-0-2 record and a plus-13 goal differential, training camp has been good for the Seattle Sounders. The team hopes to keep that momentum flowing through Wednesday night’s final preseason tuneup, which comes against Mexico’s Jaguares de Chiapas.
Midfielder Brad Evans says the team is looking forward to a final dress rehearsal against Mexican opposition before Santos Laguna comes to town on March 7 for the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I think we approach this like any game, regular season or Champions League,” he said. “It’s important for us to get into a rhythm.”
Jaguares will be Seattle’s second Mexican opponent before the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals, but the club is hoping for a better test than last week’s match against Atlante FC in Cancun. The Sounders were disappointed that los Potros fielded a very young team, and were summarily trounced 5-2 by what was mostly a first choice Seattle squad.
While there were some lessons to be gained – including the first time playing in Mexico for some of the new players – the trip was largely a bust. Coach Sigi Schmid is hopeful that the Wednesday’s opponent will be more “professional” in their approach, but still doesn’t expect Jaguares to trot out their entire starting lineup.
“I don’t expect that from them, but we expect them to play their reserves sprinkled with some guys who are maybe starter/reserve-type players,” Schmid said.
In terms of the game strategy, Schmid said he will approach Wednesday night’s game like any other competitive game. Barring injuries, all substitutions will be tactical in nature.
Evans declared the primary goal was to “get 90 minutes out of as many players as possible” as the team continues to integrate its newcomers. Two of those new faces, right back Adam Johansson and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, are expected to get their first starts in front of the Seattle crowd, while Christian Sivebaek and Cordell Cato could also play roles.
Eddie Johnson has been ruled out for precautionary reasons due to a hamstring injury, although he seemed lively at Tuesday’s training session at CenturyLink Field.
Wednesday will also mark the team’s first playing experience on the newly-installed synthetic surface. Schmid was pleased with the new FieldTurf, telling reporters Monday that the spongier surface “plays a lot better than it did last year.”
The team trained on the surface Monday and Tuesday.