I am traveling to Charleston, S.C., today for the Sounders’ final two games of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Meanwhile, these notes from the club:
With kickoff to the league’s 19th season just 11 days away, Seattle Sounders FC concludes its preseason training camp this week in Charleston, SC, with a pair of games against Eastern Conference opponents.
Sounders FC will play the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday and D.C. United on Saturday at Blackbaud Stadium, marking the final two rounds of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Both matches kick off at 2 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on www.SoundersFC.com.
Seattle played its first-ever match in the Carolina Challenge Cup last Saturday, netting an 89th minute game-winner to earn a 2-1 victory against Charleston. In the other matchup, D.C. United beat the Houston Dynamo, 2-0. Sounders FC also played the College of Charleston in a friendly on Sunday morning, winning 5-0 with goals from five different players. Overall, Seattle has gone 5-0-1 in the opening six matches of the 2014 preseason, outscoring opponents 13-4.
Following 31 days of preseason training, Sounders FC will put the finishing touches on its 2014 squad this week. All MLS teams are required to be roster and salary budget compliant by March 1. Teams may also make changes to their roster tomorrow when a waiver draft is held via conference call at 12 p.m. PT.
MLS will hold its second annual Jersey Week from March 3-7, with most teams hosting local events to unveil new primary, secondary or third jerseys. Sounders FC will unveil its third kit for the 2014 season on March 3 at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.
The 2014 MLS regular season will kick off on March 8 when Sounders FC hosts the MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City at 12 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. The match will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network.
A limited number of season ticket memberships are still available. Single match tickets are also on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.SoundersFC.com or by phoning 1-877-MLS-GOAL.
Competition Schedule (All times Pacific; subject to change)
Carolina Challenge Cup
February 26, 2 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo at Blackbaud Stadium
March 1, 2 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. DC United at Blackbaud Stadium
MLS Regular Season
March 8, 12 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field
Seattle Remains Unbeaten in Preseason Play
With its late win over the Charleston Battery on Saturday night, Sounders FC remained unbeaten in the 2014 preseason, going 5-0-1 over the first six matches. The preseason competition schedule opened on February 5 in Tucson, Ariz., when Seattle earned a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. The team also posted a pair of 2-1 wins over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and played to a scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers while in Arizona. Saturday’s win over the Battery marked Seattle’s first match of the Carolina Challenge Cup, and the team continued its winning ways on Sunday morning against the College of Charleston. Overall, four of Seattle’s five preseason wins have come in a 2-1 score line.
Sounders FC Preseason Leaders
Seattle has seen strong performances from several individuals during the 2014 preseason. The usual suspects include Obafemi Martins (co-team-high two goals in 195 minutes), Osvaldo Alonso (one goal in 195 minutes) and Brad Evans (scored 89th minute game-winner). The newcomers have also performed well, including Chad Marshall (played full 90 minutes in past two starts), Jalil Anibaba (logged 210 minutes over four appearances), Kenny Cooper (started all three appearances) and Marco Pappa (appeared in both matches since joining the team).
There have also been a few pleasant surprises for the Sounders FC coaching staff. Most notably, Andy Rose is tied for the team-lead with four points, scoring one goal with two assists. He also leads all players with 265 minutes played, starting all four of his appearances. Dylan Remick has stepped in for the injured Leo Gonzalez to become the only player to appear in all five matches, and he is tied for the team-lead with two helpers. Homegrown Player Sean Okoli has added to the Seattle attack, recording a game-winning assist and drawing the decisive late penalty last Saturday against the Charleston Battery.
Defense Continues to Hold Strong
One constant for Sounders FC over its first five seasons in MLS has been a stingy defense, and 2014 will likely follow suit. The revamped backline has allowed just four goals in the opening six preseason matches for a 0.67 goals against average. The team has not allowed a multi-goal game this preseason and has posted two shutouts. Marcus Hahnemann leads the goalkeeping group with two goals allowed in 270 minutes, allowing 0.67 goals per 90 minutes. Newcomer Stefan Frei has started twice, allowing one goal in 150 minutes (0.60 GAA).
Carolina Challenge Cup Update
The 2014 Carolina Challenge Cup kicked off last Saturday, marking the 11th edition of the week-long, round-robin tournament. D.C. United downed the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, in the opening match on Saturday afternoon before Sounders FC beat the host Charleston Battery, 2-1. The tournament will continue on Wednesday as Sounders FC faces the Houston Dynamo in the early match, and concludes on Saturday afternoon with the third round. Both Sounders FC and D.C. United are tied with three points, though the Black-and-Red hold the top goal differential (+2).
Seattle’s roster features 27 players who are currently under contract, 25 of which traveled with the team to South Carolina. Midfielder Clint Dempsey is on loan at Fulham until the beginning of March. An additional four trialists and two unsigned SuperDraft picks are with the team for a total of 31 players who are currently in camp.
Sounders FC Preseason Roster
Goalkeepers (3): Stefan Frei, Marcus Hahnemann, Josh Ford.
Defenders (9): Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez, Damion Lowe, Chad Marshall, Jimmy Ockford*, Dylan Remick, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, DeAndre Yedlin.
Midfielders (13): John Arroyo#, Osvaldo Alonso, Michael Azira#, Alex Caskey, Clint Dempsey^, Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph-, Aaron Kovar, Lamar Neagle, Marco Pappa, Fabio Pereira*, Gonzalo Pineda#, Andy Rose.
Forwards (8): Chad Barrett, Tristan Bowen, Kenny Cooper, David Estrada, Obafemi Martins, Sean Okoli, Kevin Parsemain#, Eriq Zavaleta.
*Unsigned SuperDraft picks
#Training Camp Invitees
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