Seattle Sounders FC officially opened their preseason on Tuesday with famously overcast Seattle weather and the songs and cheers of the Emerald City Supporters. Contrary to the precedent set in previous seasons, there was a noticeable lack of veteran trialists but instead a large number of academy players joining the first team training session as Seattle’s focus seems to point towards developing up-and-coming talent.
Sounders spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle before heading to Orange County, California from Jan. 24th to Feb. 2nd and will then return to Tucson, Arizona from Feb. 6th through 16th.
While new signings have been scarce this offseason, there were plenty of talking points over the winter holiday to discuss.
Jordan Morris signs new TAM level contract
While the nature of MLS contracts means we still don’t know the exact terms of the contract, Paul Tenorio of The Athletic reported that the Homegrown Player signed a contract that guarantees him to be under contract with Sounders for the next three years and two option years after that. Should he stay for all five of those years he’ll make around $1 million a year playing for his hometown club.
Morris missed the entire regular season in 2018 after tearing his ACL against Santa Tecla in the opening match of the CONCACAF Champions League. Morris was seen working with the team in training late last year and plans to be a full participant this preseason.
Cristian Roldan called into USMNT winter camp
New United States Men’s Team head coach Gregg Berhalter’s first training camp saw MLS players exclusively called in, allowing the international players in the middle of their season to focus on their clubs.
The sole representative for Sounders, Roldan will have two matches to prove his worth to the new coach after a camp that began on Jan. 7th. The USMNT is scheduled to face Panama in Glendale, Arizona on Jan. 27th followed by Costa Rica in San Jose, California on Feb. 2nd.
Reports of a new contract for Roldan were also confirmed by Garth Lagerwey on Tuesday as he told reporters that the midfielder signed a multi-year contract with the club and that he as well as Morris plan to figure heavily into the club’s future plans.
Sigi Schmid passes away
The first head coach in the club’s MLS era tragically passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 65. Schmid had been admitted to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center weeks before according to Q13 Fox where he was awaiting a heart transplant.
Schmid is the all-time winningest coach in MLS history having also coached the Los Angeles Galaxy for two stints as well as the Columbus Crew. Schmidt won two MLS Cup titles, three Supporters’ Shields, five Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups and three NCAA National Championships while at UCLA.
Schmid’s tenure with Seattle saw the expansion franchise become an instant success as Sounders still have yet to miss the playoffs in their 10 years in the league and have the league’s best combined record since joining for the 2009 season.
Former captain Osvaldo Alonso signed by Minnesota United in free agency
After 10 years with Sounders, the club leader in appearances, starts and minutes signed with the Loons this offseason after his contract expired. Alonso was the last member of the original MLS roster to leave the team or retire and his 339 appearances across all competitions for Seattle leave him second in club history dating back to 1974 just 13 behind Zach Scott.
“We have seen many great players that have played for our club, but none have had as much influence as Osvaldo Alonso” said coach Brian Schmetzer. “His drive and determination to win was evident from the first day of training, his first game, and continued throughout all of the successful years he had with Sounders FC. I feel fortunate to have been able to coach such a tremendous player. We watched his game evolve, his influence grow to where he eventually led us as captain to our first MLS Cup. I want to personally thank him for his play for the last 10 years. We will miss ‘El Corazon.'”
Nico Lodeiro to Boca Juniors rumors prove false
Reports had been swirling all offseason of a possible return to Boca Juniors for Lodeiro who had previously played for the Argentinian club before his transfer to Seattle. While Lodeiro has on several occasions expressed his love for Boca and stated his willingness to return, the Uruguayan playmaker is committed to Seattle and will remain with the club this season.
Lodeiro has been with Seattle since the summer of 2016 when he helped turn the Sounders’ season around and led the club to their first MLS Cup triumph.
Goalkeeper Trey Muse signed to Homegrown Player contract
The most notable signing to date this offseason for Seattle, Indiana University ‘keeper Trey Muse became the 11th Homegrown Player signing in club history. In two seasons with the Hoosiers, Muse started all 49 of his appearances as Indiana finished runner-up to national champions Stanford in 2017 and were knocked out of the semifinals in 2018. Muse was also named First Team All-America by the United Soccer Coaches, Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News in 2018 as a Sophomore with a 20-3-1 record.
As a Seattle Homegrown Player Muse joins the likes of first team players Jordan Morris, Handwalla Bwana, and Henry Wingo as well as Newcastle United defender and original Homegrown Player signing DeAndre Yedlin.
Tucker Bone, Joel Rydstrand and Aleks Berkolds selected in MLS SuperDraft
With three picks in the 2019 SuperDraft, Seattle selected Air Force Academy midfielder Tucker Bone with the 20th pick, Creighton defender Joel Rydstrand with the 44th pick, and San Diego State defender Aleks Berkolds with the 68th pick.
All three players have yet to sign contracts with the club and according to Lagerwey, Bone will graduate from Air Force Academy before joining the team full-time although he was a participant in the club’s first training on Tuesday. Once he does graduate the club will also seek a deferment of service to allow Bone to play with the club before becoming an Air Force officer, a process the club is currently working on.
Zulily announced as new jersey sponsor
With the club’s original sponsor, Xbox, ending their jersey and pitch sponsorship after the 2018 season, Sounders announced that online retailer Zulily will become the new kit sponsor in a partnership with National Women’s Soccer League club Seattle Reign that will see the brand on the front of both clubs’ jerseys going forward.
While the exact terms of the sponsorship have not been released, owner Adrian Hanauer said during the press conference that it is “a long-term partnership” and that “the resources are more resources than we were previously generating.” Unlike the sponsorship from Xbox that included pitch naming rights, Zulily is only sponsoring the club’s jerseys and training apparel as Sounders have yet to announce a pitch sponsor or a sleeve sponsor which should bring even more investment to the club.
Zulily was founded in 2010 and is a local company headquartered in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. Started as a small online retailer with a focus on products for moms with children, Zulily has since expanded to $2 billion retailer with products for both men and women. Their investment in both the Reign and Sounders marks the first time both Seattle clubs have shared a presenting sponsor and is also an investment into the local community with Zulily and Sounders matching $26,000 in funds raised towards Strong Against Cancer.