When attending Seattle Sounders FC training sessions during the week at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington the majority of the 12 outdoor fields are vacant and there is an overarching sense of calm mixed in with Brian Schmetzer’s practices. Save for the occasional passing train, there is little to hear other than players and coaches preparing for the upcoming match.
On Saturdays the complex comes to life as youth teams take over fields overlooked by the Sounders’ offices; the future of Seattle soccer on display in the shadow of it’s present.
The atmosphere for players during Saturday training is wildly different from the mostly unwatched weekday training sessions as fans get a chance to watch practice as well as get photos and autographs.
While it’s still business as usual for the team as they prepare for a Monday night game against Houston Dynamo, the increased fan presence is something defender Kelvin Leerdam welcomes.
“First of all I’m happy that the people are here,” said Leerdam after practice. “They are always supporting us in good and bad times. Now it’s going good so everybody’s happy but they’re also coming when we are on a bad run. So it always gives us a boost. If you see people happy you just want to play more and play harder and hopefully we can keep the stretch going.”
Houston provides a tough test for Sounders with a speedy attacking core coming off a US Open Cup victory over Philadelphia Union and a comeback win over San Jose Earthquakes as well. Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis lead the team in scoring with 15 and 11 goals respectively and Tomas Martinez serves as a dangerous playmaker in the attacking midfield role.
“They’re very explosive on the counter,” said Stefan Frei. “They have some pace; they’re not afraid to shoot from distance. I think their confidence is quite high up top… They have some guys up there that are very eager to score and don’t really care how its going to happen and that’s very dangerous.”
While Houston is still mathematically in the Western Conference playoff race it seems Dynamo need a miracle as they’ll have to take maximum points from their last four matches to have any hope of catching Real Salt Lake in the sixth and final playoff position. With two of Seattle’s next three matches against Houston, Frei dismissed the idea of treating the first match any different from the norm.
“No it doesn’t matter… We have to take it to [Houston] and we have to get three points at home,” said Frei. “It doesn’t really matter who we’re facing at this point. If we want to be ready for the playoffs, get into the playoffs, and then make a serious push then what you do at home is vital.
“All focus is on this home game and making sure that we take care of business.”
Seattle will play host to Houston this Monday night at 19:30 PT (03:30 GMT) as they look to secure their 10th-straight postseason appearance which would tie the Los Angeles Galaxy for longest streak of consecutive appearances in league history.