Blink and you might have missed Sounders FC’s frenzied offseason.
Eleven players from last year are gone, including Eddie Johnson (top scorer), Mauro Rosales (leader in assists), Michael Gspurning (starting goalkeeper), and three “originals” from the inaugural squad in 2009.
Key additions have namely been established MLS veterans like defender Chad Marshall and forward Kenny Cooper, who will be among many new faces at Saturday’s start of preseason training camp.
The most significant move of the past few months, though, was the retention of coach Sigi Schmid, whose status was in question following the most disappointing season in franchise history.
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So, in addition to roster moves, what is going to be different this year?
For Schmid, the emphasis was hammered home when watching the MLS Cup — an increasingly difficult task every year the Sounders aren’t involved — and Sporting Kansas City, as he put it, claimed the league championship through “a lot of grit and determination.”
“It further resolves (the notion) of us getting back to that a little bit and making sure that we play with that same grit and that same determination, which I think we played with at times but didn’t play with all the time last year,” Schmid said last month at a business meeting.
“My whole focus is on the changes that we need to make, and making sure that we have a group that’s going to bleed for each other.”
The 2013 Sounders never formed a bond, according to Schmid. Some of that was a lack of on-the-field cohesion from ever-changing lineups (due in part to injuries, national-team call-ups, etc.) and some of that was a lack of off-the-field chemistry, which the team has repeated could have been better.
The ideal scenario would be to improve both issues in the next six weeks of preseason, which includes trips to Arizona and South Carolina, but Seattle will be without a few core players at the start.
Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin are in training camp with the U.S. national team (USMNT) and won’t rejoin the Sounders until after a Feb. 1 exhibition against South Korea. Superstar Clint Dempsey, the linchpin of the Seattle’s new-look formation and attack, is on loan with Fulham of the English Premier League until March.
Any or all three could also be involved in the USMNT’s March 5 exhibition at the Ukraine, a road game just three days before the MLS opener against Sporting KC at CenturyLink Field.
• Reign FC’s four U.S. allocated players, goalkeeper Hope Solo, forward Sydney Leroux, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and defender Stephanie Cox, have been called in for exhibitions against Canada (Jan. 31) and Russia (Feb. 8 and 12).
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.