Seattle Sounders FC shifts to the second phase of its preseason training Tuesday in Oxnard, Calif.
After opening preseason camp at the Seahawks training facility in Renton on Jan. 21, the Sounders will spend the next week training at Oxnard College before playing their first four training games next week at various California sites.(Here’s an overview on teams training in Southern California from the Ventura County Star.)
"The first week, the emphasis is going to be on fitness," coach Sigi Schmid said. "A lot of the training exercises that we’re going to do is going to have a little more of a fitness base to it. For example, if we’re playing five-against-five, instead of playing on a field that’s 40-by-25, we might be playing on a field that’s 60-by-30 – we want them to cover more ground. That’s why we don’t play any games the first week we’re there: I’m not a believer in working on fitness and trying to play games at the same time."
The Sounders will meet opposition for the first time Feb. 9, playing the LA Galaxy at the Home Dept Center training facility in Carson; Calif.
They’ll play Shandong Luneng of China at Oxnard on Feb. 9; the Ventura County Fusion in Ventura, Calif., on Feb. 11; and the San Jose Earthquakes at San Luis Obispo on Feb. 13.
Schmid expects to keep his roster at around 30-32 players while in California, to allow for the steady diet of games.
"It’s what we need for training purposes in preseason because when we start playing games, we’re playing (next) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," he said. "If you have 28 field players, 14 will play the majority of the Monday, (and other) guys will play a little bit; and then a different 14 will play on Tuesday and these guys will play a little bit; and then Wednesday we’ll mix it up."
After those two weeks in California, the Sounders will return briefly to the Northwest before traveling to Argentina for more training games Feb. 27 through March 5.
Then they will return to Seattle for final training leading up to their Major League Soccer season-opener March 19 against the New York Red Bulls at Qwest Field.