Sounders camp starts up with lots of new faces on field
Sounders FC’s many offseason transactions finally gave way to training in Saturday’s start of preseason training camp. While a fresh start offers some relief to last season’s disappointment, the influx of new players also provides a sense of the unknown.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Zach Scott could hardly keep up with Sounders FC’s busy offseason. The veteran defender admitted at the start of preseason training camp Saturday that he had to enlist help from his mom, who he called his “keeping-me-up-to-date person,” to follow the many comings and goings.
Transactions, though, have finally given way to training, and one sentiment was clear after Day 1: These aren’t last year’s Sounders. Not even close.
The majority of the 37 players on the camp roster weren’t here in 2013, and while a fresh start offers some relief to last season’s disappointment, it also provides a sense of the unknown.
“It will be really interesting to see how this thing plays out this year,” said goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann. “We’re going to have such a new team, new squad, young and new faces, lots of guys I don’t know. It’s always difficult to ... say how great we’re going to be and all this stuff, but I think we’re going to be really good.”
Coach Sigi Schmid said the emphasis of the offseason was getting younger, faster and more athletic. He added the team isn’t “done yet” when it comes to roster construction, indicating there is legitimacy to reports the team is lining up the acquisition of former MLS midfielder Marco Pappa.
“Trying to build it all over again, I think that’s the exciting thing about coaching,” Schmid said. “It’s a mosaic that takes on a different shape each time. You have to look for the pieces of the puzzle that fit together, but at the end of the day, I think having a team that’s changing ... is a good thing for us right now because I think it brings that spirit.
“You could sense that spirit in the locker room before they came out here, and you could sense it on the field.”
The state of the locker room drew a lot of attention in the offseason, as Schmid and part owner Adrian Hanauer indicated it could have been better last year.
Hahnemann, entering his 21st season as a pro, said he’s been in “worse” locker rooms but that it did have at least some effect in the disappointment of 2013.
“Obviously it was difficult when you bring lots of big-time characters into one spot,” the Seattle native said. “You have to have everyone pulling in the same direction, and it just didn’t quite happen. That will be different this year. It has to be.”
Midfielder Joseph not in 2014 plans
Shalrie Joseph is on the camp roster but wasn’t with the team Saturday. Schmid said the veteran midfielder, acquired last year in a trade with Chivas USA, will not be a part of the team’s plans for the upcoming season.
A corresponding move, perhaps a trade or buyout, will likely take place as the March 8 opener nears.
“I don’t know what the ultimate resolution will be,” Schmid said.
No starting GK yet
The goalkeeper spot saw some big changes over the offseason with the departure of Michael Gspurning, Seattle’s primary starter the past two years, and addition of Stefan Frei from Toronto FC.
Schmid was asked Saturday if there is a presumed starter between Hahnemann and Frei.
“No ... there is no pecking order anywhere really right now,” the coach said. “We want to see how everybody does, how everybody comes along, how everybody develops. There are expectations, I’ll say that. There are certain expectations that you have, but right now it’s the first day, there are a lot of things ahead of us still.”
• Leo Gonzalez, the team’s Defender of the Year in 2013, underwent groin surgery in the offseason and isn’t expected back until the Charleston portion of training camp starting Feb. 19.
• Seven players in camp on a tryout basis were identified by the team: goalkeeper John McCarthy; midfielder/defender Tarek Morad; midfielders Michael Azira and Dzenan Catic; and forwards Long Tan, Kevin Parsemain and Miguel Gonzalez (a Seattle University product).
• New addition Chad Marshall said it didn’t take long to notice Seahawks fever in Seattle: “I love the vibe of the city, and obviously they care a lot about their sports teams. ... I flew in Friday and got to see all the 12s around the city. It’s pretty impressive.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184
On Twitter @joshuamayers