Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid was satisfied with his players' times in the annual "beep test" on Friday. "Overall," he said, "our team fitness is a little bit better (than last year)."

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RENTON — The earliest start in MLS history (March 2) leaves little time to get in shape.

Sounders FC’s participation in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals (March 6 and 12) adds even more urgency.

It was quite a relief then when the team appeared in good shape in its annual preseason endurance test — also known as the “beep test” — at Friday’s practice.

The beep test involves running back and forth 20 meters at a time for as long as possible paced by the sound of a beep, which gradually increases in frequency.

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So what were the overall impressions Friday?

“I think the lows are not as low, which is always a positive thing,” said fitness coach Dave Tenney. “You’d like to have a group that is relatively even from top to bottom in terms of where their fitness is at. It’s sometimes more difficult planning-wise if you have a huge disparity. I think we have the most even group of fitness that we’ve had to this point.”

Tenney estimated that the worst times were 90 to 120 seconds faster than last year’s.

“That’s a good sign for us,” said coach Sigi Schmid, “because it means obviously they have to do less work. Overall, our team fitness is a little bit better. It means we’re closer from a physical standpoint of being ready and being able to push the guys more minutes in games earlier; that’s what we have to do because we’ve got some important games early in the year.”

The Sounders will undergo their most serious fitness work when the team heads to Casa Grande, Ariz., on Tuesday. The team will practice twice a day in that grueling stage of preseason.

“Guys who are a little bit behind, we’ve got to supplement some of their training so they can catch up,” Schmid said.

Second-year midfielder Andy Rose lasted longest in Friday’s test at 11 minutes and two seconds, which came up short of David Estrada’s team record of 11:46 set last year.

Midfielder Alex Caskey was second, followed by Estrada (who was bothered by a toe injury), Costa Rican trialist Marvin Angulo and rookie Dylan Remick. Midfielder Steve Zakuani also proved he has recovered from his serious leg injury by finishing with what was believed to be a personal best time.

Rose said finishing first was “not that big a deal. It’s just good to show that you’re fit and that you’re sort of ready for the season.”


• Reign FC can sign up to four free agents (up to two internationals) in an open signing period in National Women’s Soccer League until Jan. 31. A supplemental draft will be held afterward with details to be announced in the near future.

• Schmid and sporting director Chris Henderson are once again on the National Soccer Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2013. Schmid is nominated as a builder for services to the game and Henderson is nominated as a player.

• The Sounders reserves will play games against Orlando City SC at home (May 12) and on the road (Aug. 11) as part of MLS’s new partnership with the USL PRO, a lower-tier league.

• Supplemental draft pick Will Bates said on Twitter that his knee surgery went well. Another draft pick, Lebogang Moloto, is expected to join the team Saturday.

• Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was a visitor at Friday’s practice, which was held at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or On Twitter @joshuamayers.

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