Sounders to resume friendly competition in ’14

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Seattle Sounders FC will play a friendly match against an international club in 2014 after skipping the practice for the first time this season.

“We like doing the friendlies,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said Tuesday. “There’s some fans who don’t like friendlies. There are a lot of fans who do like the friendlies, I guess by empirical evidence of the number of fans who show up for the friendlies. It’s a great opportunity. We’ve talked about measuring ourselves against teams around the world – off the field and on the field. This is one of those ways where we can measure ourselves.”

The Sounders played seven international friendlies over their first four seasons: Chelsea and Barcelona in 2009; Boca Juniors, Celtic and Chivas Guadalajara in 2010; Manchester United in 2011, and Chelsea again in 2012.

Seattle is 2-5 in those matches, with victories over Boca Juniors and Guadalajara. Attendance has ranged from 67,052 for Man U to 40,122 for Boca.

Despite the crowds, some season-ticket holders have argued they shouldn’t have to pay for friendlies, and other supporters have said it is in the club’s competitive interest to play only meaningful games.

However, the 2014 season-ticket package will include 18 games: 17 regular-season Major League Soccer matches and a friendly against an opponent to be determined.

“I would say a high-quality club,” Hanauer said. “Given that it’s a World Cup year, it’s a little bit funky with timing and rosters. So in some ways getting maybe not one of those ‘top eight’ clubs you might end up (facing) a stronger roster, because if you’re playing it during that period of the World Cup, half the team may be gone from some of those top clubs. So we’ll kind of weigh all those things together.”

ADDED TIME

Hanauer said the Sounders will consider moves before MLS rosters freeze Friday. “We’re always in contact with other teams, we’re always looking at players and we’re always trying to strengthen the squad,” he said. “It’s about all I can say. I have no prognostication about whether we’ll do something.” … U.S. national team members Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson, who scored in the Americans’ 2-0 win over Mexico, will travel from Columbus, Ohio, to Seattle on Wednesday and are expected to resume Sounders training Thursday. Coach Sigi Schmid said the availability of either player for the Real Salt Lake match Friday will depend on the toll from their international duty. “We’ll have to see … how they feel,” Schmid said. “They’re really going to have only Thursday’s practice. … You look at Eddie and Clint and you say, OK they were with us in Columbus, and from Columbus to Miami; Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica; back to Columbus and now to here. So it’s not only the games, it’s also the wear and tear of the travel.” … The Sounders expect to have an update Wednesday regarding ticket sales for the RSL game. The entire seating area of CenturyLink Field will be open for the match between the top two teams in the Supporters’ Shield race.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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