After concluding the first phase of training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Tuesday, the team flew out for Arizona. The Sounders will train there through next Tuesday, when it concludes this trip with a friendly against the Portland Timbers.
“It’s a little bit of team building, and when the team gets together, team bonding,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We spend some time with each other. They spend some time with each other. So whether they’re playing cards or whatever they’re doing – surfing on the Internet or playing video games – but they get together, they talk a little bit. So it’s a good thing for us to get together. We get to know them a little better. We have more time to call them in and have talks with them, where when it’s here you’re going home in between and sometimes its tough to have a guy come over: ‘Oh, coach wants to meet with me.’ But then they’re kind of a captive audience (in Casa Grande), they’ve got no place to go. And it’s a good training facility just in terms of soccer training. It’s not an entertainment facility, but it’s definitely a soccer-training facility. The fields are good. The complex is nice. It’s good for our staff because we can set up our own training room, our own locker room, they have their own laundry areas and stuff. … It’s really good for the staff. They’re not working out of hotel rooms, they’re not trying to take practice gear to Laundromats. Everything is self-contained. It’s a pretty efficient facility.”
There also will be a change in weather, as the Tukwila forecast called for highs in the upper 40 and rain, while Casa Grande is expected to be sunny with highs around 60s.
However, this phase of training also will stress fitness work. So, not all the veterans sounded excited about the change of scenery.
“We will do the same things we can do here,” goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “But in preseason it’s just training, eat, sleep; training, eat, sleep; training, eat, sleep; training, eat … maybe a half-day off.”
Here’s more from the club on this first Arizona portion of their training:
With the first week of training camp complete, Sounders FC players and coaches fly south on Tuesday for a seven-day training camp at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz. The trip culminates with the first training game of the 2013 preseason as Seattle takes on Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers in Tucson on Tuesday, February 5.
Training camp opened last week with morning sessions at Starfire Sports, then transitioned to fitness testing at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where Andy Rose came in first in the beep test and Osvaldo Alonso impressed in the speed test, clocking the best time of all returners.
The opening week of preseason was capped with the return of Federal Way native Lamar Neagle, who Sounders FC acquired from the Montreal Impact on Sunday in exchange for an international roster spot.
The upcoming week-long stay in Arizona will feature two-a-day training sessions to improve the players’ fitness and develop style of play in preparation for the earliest start in club history with the March 2 opener against the Impact at CenturyLink Field.
Following the training game against Portland, Sounders FC will return to Seattle next Tuesday for a five-day homestay before departing again for the Grand Canyon State from February 11 to February 23. The team will participate in The Desert Diamond Cup against the New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake.
Back to Grande Sports World
Sounders FC returns to Grande Sports World for the fourth consecutive preseason. The team will train, eat and sleep on-site, and 10 training sessions and one training game are scheduled over the seven-day stretch.
Grande Sports World, a $20 million dollar facility in Casa Grande, Ariz., is located at the previous home to the San Francisco Giants spring training. The hotel and resort, Francisco Grande, dates back to 1959 when then-owner of the Giants, Horace Stoneham, developed the property as the spring training site for his MLB team. In the first-ever game at Francisco Grande in 1961, Willie Mays hit a home run off Gaylord Perry. Legendary actor John Wayne also frequently visited Francisco Grande.
The 45-acre Grande Sports World campus is adjacent to the Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort and features nine professional grade soccer fields and a 58,000 square foot performance center.
Preseason Preview: Portland up First
There are currently five games scheduled in Seattle’s preseason over the next four weeks, beginning with the February 5 match against the Portland Timbers. The match will kickoff at 10:30 a.m. local (9:30 a.m. PT) at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. The two Pacific Northwest sides have twice met in the preseason over the past four years with the Timbers winning both matches, 1-0 on March 11, 2010 at CenturyLink Field and 2-0 on March 4, 2011 at Starfire Sports.