Sounders FC practice report, A.M. session Feb. 4

4 02 2012

Another perfect “winter” day in central Arizona, and my annual reunion with Seattle Sounders FC Saturday morning and afternoon in Casa Grande.

It’s nice that after two years away from these guys, there are still some familiar faces and guys who remember me and who were kind enough to take the time to say hello or catch up. Coaches Sigi Schmid, Tom Dutra, Brian Schmetzer and David Tenney, staff guys Matt Gaschk, Huy Nguyen, Mike Ferris and Grant Clark and of course, the players — Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle, Jeff Parke, Brad Evans, Mike Fucito, Steve Zakuani and Roger Levesque.

I also spoke with new GK Michael Gspurning and midfielder Mauro Rosales for the first time.

But enough with the sentimental stuff. The morning session was interesting in that there were two 11-man teams of reserves on one field — Orange v. Blue — and a third group of guys who figure to be the starters and regular rotation players when the Sounders’ season starts in early March with a CONCACAF Champions league match.

That third group included Evans, Fucito, Alonso, Neagle, Montero, Rosales, Patrick Ianni, Alvaro “Flaco” Fernandez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and defenders Adam Johansson and Marc Burch. Parke was given a day off from practicing but did some light running.

Sounders regulars doing some running at Feb. 4 morning practice (photo by Jose Romero)

The Orange squad featured Zakuani at left midfield, Mike Seamon at center mid, Servando Carrasco at holding mid and Levesque at right wing. Leo Gonzalez played left back and the forwards were David Estrada and Babayele Sodade.

Asst. coach Ezra Hendrickson gives halftime talk to Orange team (photo by Jose M. Romero)

The Blue team was led by Sammy Ochoa as the lone forward and Zach Scott at right back. Trialists Harlinton Gutierres and Ever Alvarado played center and left back, and trialist Andrew Vanzie got a long look at center mid. He played well in the two 20-minute halves.

The Orange side got a goal when trialist Wes Feighner caught up to a long ball and controlled and crossed nicely to Sodade, who finished the play putting the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Weber, who couldn’t do much with it.

Blue team midfielder Cordell Cato impressed in the scrimmage, but easily the moment of the day came when Zakuani, coming back from that horrific injury last season, looked strong running hard to catch up to a ball and then dribbled around his defender for a clear shot.

The play happened right before the end of the session. It was, for a flash, the Zakuani that Sounders fans have become accustomed to, flying down the wing and getting a shot off. This one went a little too high.

“It was another chance for us to look at some of the players that are competing for spots on the team, and also get some good fitness work in for the first-team guys,” Schmid said.

Schmid said the coaches planned to play Zakuani for the first 20 minutes, but he asked to play the second half, too.

“I think he ran out of gas at about the 30-minute mark,” Schmid said. “The last 10 he just sort of stood up front and became a forward who really didn’t chase back much. But he had the opportunity at the end. You saw the old Zakuani stepover, push it inside and just hit it over the top.

“With each day he gets a little more confidence. There’s still no timeline on the whole thing (recovery),” Schmid added. “Every day it gets a little better.”




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