Sounders like the new FieldTurf at CenturyLink Field
The Sounders practiced on a new FieldTurf surface at CenturyLink Field for the first time on Monday, and while it's not grass, the Sounders liked what they saw.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Sounders FC blog
Seattle's Chad Marshall named MLS defender of the year NEW - 11/25, 08:47 AM
It's not grass, and it might not ever be grass, but Sounders FC officials hope they have the next best thing with the brand-new installation of FieldTurf at CenturyLink Field.
The team practiced on the new surface for the first time Monday and offered positive reviews.
"It's great; it's better than the old surface," said midfielder Alvaro Fernandez, through an interpreter.
"The new turf is perfect," said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
And long overdue.
Coach Sigi Schmid said he normally likes to have the team practice at the stadium leading into games, but couldn't last year due to the worn-out turf that was installed in 2008. The Sounders hope the new surface, with long blades that aren't matted down, will slow the ball down and suit the team's possession-orientated style of play.
There are several other advantages to new turf.
"It's definitely easier on the body than it would be otherwise," Schmid said. "There are a lot more unplanned cuts in soccer ... so just being able to cut on this surface with it being softer like that takes a lot of the wear and tear off."
Gary Wright, Sounders FC's senior vice president of business operations, said the team's ownership group is committed to replacing the turf surface as often as is needed to maintain a high quality of play. Grass remains unfeasible, Wright said, but he hopes the new FieldTurf will help attract international teams, and perhaps the U.S. men's team, to Seattle for big games.
The field will host its first action on Wednesday as the Sounders host Mexico's Jaguares de Chiapas in a 7 p.m. preseason game. Admission is free.
Sounders Women sign Morgan
The Sounders Women made another big move Monday, signing U.S. women's national team star Alex Morgan, pending federation approval.
The 22-year-old forward is the third major addition by the W-League team this month, joining goalkeeper and Richland native Hope Solo and forward Sydney Leroux, who signed two weeks ago. The trio is expected to play in Seattle's three home exhibition games and four of its seven home league games.
Morgan has scored 16 goals in 32 appearances for the national team since her 2010 debut. She was the youngest player on the U.S. team for last summer's FIFA Women's World Cup and scored a go-ahead goal in overtime of the final, which the team eventually lost to Japan in a penalty-kick shootout.
Morgan, a native of Diamond Bar, Calif., is the longtime girlfriend of Sounders FC midfielder Servando Carrasco. She has also become popular beyond her sport, having been featured in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue among other endeavors.
The Sounders Women will play at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. Schedule and season-ticket information will be announced Tuesday.
• Two new video boards are being installed at CenturyLink, one at the south end and one at the north end. The boards are expected to be completed by Sounders FC's MLS opener on March 17.
• The Sounders practiced at full strength Monday, as every player out sick Sunday rejoined the group.
• Newly acquired Eddie Johnson will not play in Wednesday's preseason game, Schmid said, as the forward recovers from a hamstring injury suffered last week.
• Schmid confirmed that defender/midfielder Amadou Sanyang won't be with the team this season. Sanyang has a guaranteed contract with the Sounders through the end of March, but currently is trying out for the Chicago Fire after leaving the team last week.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.