Just like the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners, travel can be a challenging part of the Seattle Sounders FC schedule.
With their home city tucked way up here in the Northwest corner of the country, Seattle teams cover more miles on planes than most league opponents. And while Major League Soccer’s current footprint doesn’t extend into the Southeast the way it does in the NFL and MLB, this season will bring CONCACAF Champions League travel to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Now, the Sounders are in an extended run of domestic travel with five road games over this latest MLS stretch. They played at New York City last weekend, returned home for two days of training, and fly out again Thursday for a weekend match in Columbus, Ohio.
The club could have shaved some air miles by remaining in the Eastern time zone this week. But the players decided there really is no place like home, even if only briefly.
“It doesn’t really work to stay in New York because just getting to the training facility is very inconvenient,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “So that would have put us into Columbus on Monday. We would have been in Columbus for the whole week. It would have been a whole different training rhythm and everything else. Talking to the guys, being able to come home Monday night and (getting) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at home in their own beds, we thought that was worthwhile.”
The Sounders concluded local training at Starfire Sports on Wednesday, travel Thursday and then train in Ohio on Friday before their 4:30 p.m. Saturday match with Columbus Crew SC.
“With all the travel you have to make sure you prepare your body, get enough quality sleep,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “But other than that, the coaches make sure that our workload is adjusted for training. We just show up for training and make sure we get ready for the game. … It’s been all right. It’s part of the league. Everybody knows that we have some distance we have to cover to get to our opponents, but it’s just how it is.”
Next week, the Sounders will conclude this road run with a visit to Vancouver. After that, the home/away ratio reverses with five of their next six MLS games at CenturyLink Field.
Individual honors have flowed in since the Sounders’ 3-1 win at New York. Forward Obafemi Martins was named MLS player of the week and was nominated for goal of the week. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei was nominated for save of the week. And Martins and defenders Chad Marshall and Dylan Remick were named to the MLS team of the week. Martins and Marshall are regularly honored for their play, but Schmid seemed especially pleased to see Remick recognized. … On Wednesday, Schmid said he “has never had a better forward duo” than Martins and Clint Dempsey. … Schmid said Andy Rose started ahead of Lamar Neagle in New York because Rose has been playing well, and Neagle “has not always been at his best this season.” Schmid didn’t commit to a midfield lineup against the Crew. … Schmid said his roster is as healthy as it has been all season, with all regulars available to him for the weekend.