- Congressman: McAuliffe victory means gun control a winning message
- Clinton aide admits soliciting disgraced D.C. fundraiser; says actions were legal
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror recruiter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
Sounders open training camp
TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) - From the time last season ended, Osvaldo Alonso knew the Seattle Sounders would look significantly different.
After the Sounders tumbled from the top of the Major League Soccer standings in mid-September to scrambling for a playoff spot by the end of October, the midfield stalwart who has been with the team since its inception in 2009 figured some fallout was inevitable.
“We made some changes, so it is what is,” said Alonso, a four-time team MVP and one of three Sounders with top-tier designated player status. “We have to help our new teammates get ready for the season.”
Those teammates Saturday on the first day of camp no longer include goal-scoring threat and U.S. national teamer Eddie Johnson (traded to D.C. United), starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (contract option declined) and Mauro Rosales (traded to Chivas USA).
But on a foggy, frosty morning, Seattle’s group did include forward Kenny Cooper (32 goals in the last three seasons combined at Portland, New York and FC Dallas, two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall (acquired from Columbus), and goalkeeper Stefan Frei (acquired from Toronto).
The Sounders eventually will have three U.S. national team candidates back with the team, as well. Midfielder Brad Evans and defender DeAndre Yedlin are currently in camp with the World Cup-bound American squad. Midfielder and U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey is on a two-month loan to Fulham of the English Premier League.
Dempsey’s arrival late last August immediately sparked talk of an MLS Cup in Seattle. He wound up with just one goal and no assists in nine games, but coach Sigi Schmid expects better production this season, even though Dempsey will be splitting time between the Sounders and the U.S. team until after the World Cup
“It’s easier than last year because we know he’s going to be coming, and we know what he can bring,” Schmid said. “The guys know him better because they’ve played with him, although some (of the newcomers) have not. I have a good idea of where he’s going to plug in.”
Although he’s the only coach Sounders have had since joining MLS in 2009, Schmid’s own job was in question after an 0-5-2 finish to the regular season and 5-3 aggregate ouster by Portland in the Western Conference semifinals.
Schmid knew that merely tweaking the roster wouldn’t be good enough.
“One of our goals was to become more athletic, younger, and faster,” he said. “We wanted to get some young centerbacks in there as well, because we felt we had a whole group sort of growing old together. I think we accomplished that, and now, we just have to finish up a little bit at midfield.”
The Sounders have set MLS attendance records in each of their first five seasons. An average of 44,038 flocked to CenturyLink Field last year, with two crowds of more than 50,000, and two of more than 65,000. But they have yet to reward those fans with an MLS Cup or an appearance in the final, although three U.S. Open Cups are in the trophy case.
Even in a city now caught up in the frenzy of the Super Bowl-bound Seahawks, about 150 of those fans showed up to watch Saturday’s first practice in spite of the crispy conditions.
Alonso said that this team, even with all of its newcomers, has to deliver.
“We have a lot of pressure. We have to win MLS,” he said. “We’ve been five years without winning MLS.”
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
- Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- David Jolly wins in Florida, GOP keeps swing district seat
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Brennan: Russia 'absolutely' could invade eastern Ukraine
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- HURT: John Kerry The ridiculous face of a ridiculous U.S. diplomacy
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again