The Sounders, fielding a 'B' team lineup, claimed the Desert Diamond Cup trophy Saturday with a 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake in Tucson, Ariz.
Two preseason games in two days meant Sounders FC had to prioritize, and precedence went to Friday’s exhibition against Mexico’s Veracruz as Seattle’s starters played nearly the whole game.
That meant a collection of reserves, rookies and non-contract invitees would have to carry the load in Saturday’s Desert Diamond Cup championship game against a close-to-full-strength Real Salt Lake in Tucson, Ariz.
No problem. Not with the Sounders’ depth.
Midfielder Alex Caskey scored the lone goal in the 50th minute and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann made several spectacular saves as Seattle earned a hard-fought 1-0 win. The Sounders swept the preseason tournament, winning all four games with a 7-1 goal margin.
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Caskey’s goal, his second of the tournament, came after a quick combination of passes from forward David Estrada and Sammy Ochoa. The ball came to Caskey on the right side of the penalty box, where he sharply cut left to improve his angle and powered a shot past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Hahnemann put Seattle in position for the win with sensational work before then. He made six saves in the buildup to Caskey’s go-ahead strike, none better than a diving stop in the 17th minute of RSL forward Alvaro Saborio.
The 40-year-old goalkeepers also made a pair of stunning saves in the 42nd minute, denying Sebastian Velasquez and Saborio, and then had another a minute later on a long-range shot by Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman.
RSL’s best chance for a late equalizer came in the 82nd minute, when a ball in the penalty box ricocheted off the arm of Seattle’s Andy Rose — unintentionally, so no penalty kick was called — and then off the post.
The Sounders return to Seattle on Sunday leading into a March 2 MLS opener at home against Montreal.
Sounders sign Traore
Following days of hints that Djimi Traore could be signing, Sounders FC made it official Saturday. The veteran defender, who joined preseason camp on a tryout basis Feb. 4, played for Liverpool in the English Premier League from 1999-2006 and 16 years in Europe, overall.
Traore, 32, is the first Seattle player who has won the UEFA Champions League, which he did in 2005. He is expected to contend for a starting position at center back — a position of need for the Sounders following the offseason trade of Jeff Parke and preseason injury to Patrick Ianni.
“He’s a very good defender and makes smart decisions with the ball coming out the back,” said sporting director Chris Henderson in a news release. “Djimi brings us confidence and leadership in the back.”
Traore will be added to the roster upon receipt of his P-1 visa and international transfer clearance. Terms were not disclosed, per MLS and team policy.
• Arlo White of the NBC Sports Network said on air that Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer referred to Levante UD forward Obafemi Martins as “the sort of player we’d be interested in.” Seattle has long been in search of a DP forward, and Martins could be the answer.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @joshuamayers