Sounders win training game vs. Columbus, use starters a lot
The Sounders beat Columbus 2-0 as their starters played a preseason-high 75 minutes.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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More pieces are falling into place as Sounders FC continues its preparations for 2012.
Seattle's starters played a preseason-high 75 minutes in a training game Wednesday against the Columbus Crew and, as a result, experienced another camp first: a halftime speech.
It meant not sound like a big deal, but making halftime adjustments for the first time this year was another detail in establishing the groundwork for the upcoming season. It also had an near-immediate effect against Columbus as forward Fredy Montero scored the go-ahead goal in the 54th minute — nine minutes after the break — to help lead the Sounders to a 2-0 win at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Specifically, those adjustments were keying on Crew playmaker Milovan Mirosevic and getting more players in midfield.
"Once we started doing that I thought we got a hold of the game," said coach Sigi Schmid.
Midfielder Cordell Cato added a goal in the 114th minute of the 120-minute game to clinch Seattle's first preseason win following two 1-1 ties. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning played the first 90 minutes of the shutout and Bryan Meredith played the final 30.
The match was probably the most important of four during the Sounders' training stint in Florida. Not only was it the only one against an MLS team, but it was the first of five consecutive Wednesday games, including two in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Mexico's Santos Laguna that starts March 7.
"For us right now, it's a matter of building those minutes on the Wednesday-to-Wednesday routine," Schmid said.
The only Seattle starters that didn't play the 75 minutes with the rest of the group were defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (ejected in the first half) and forward Mike Fucito (subbed out in the 62nd minute).
While Schmid said the Sounders are mostly focused on themselves — building fitness and cohesion — there have also been special preparations for Santos Laguna. The CCL quarterfinal kicks off in three weeks and is perhaps the most important series in franchise history, with the winner of the tournament qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup.
"The players have already seen some videotape on Santos Laguna when we were in Arizona," Schmid said. "We're editing stuff and putting it together right now. ... I know the guys are aware of it."
Options up front
When asked if he knows who will start alongside Montero at forward, Schmid said the team is still weighing options. Fucito has played with the starters for most of the preseason, but Sammy Ochoa, David Estrada and Sivebaek were also mentioned as possibilities.
"I still think we have some weeks to decide that," Schmid said.
• Schmid said the team's medical staff is making progress toward diagnosing Josh Ford's troublesome knee injury, which has been bothering the second-year goalkeeper since last season. Ford is expected to miss the next four to six weeks, at least, according to the coach.
• Wednesday's game featured seven yellow cards and three red cards. Last week's training game against Vancouver had 10 yellow cards and one red card, but Schmid isn't much concerned with the alarming rates of discipline. "There were some decisions made (Wednesday by the referee) that were interesting, let me put it that way," he said.
• Regarding the Sounders Women's signings of national team players Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux, Schmid said: "I think it's great for Seattle soccer and for women's soccer in Seattle. ... That's tremendous."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.