Schmid gets good look at Sounders in draw

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comFebruary 27, 2014 

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Seattle Sounders FC scored one goal and looked at 23 players during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo in the second round of the Carolina Challenge Cup.

The Major League Soccer season starts in nine days, so getting a look at those players was Sounders coach Sigi Schmid’s top priority.

“Houston played pretty much almost their whole first team in the first half,” he said. “We mixed our guys a little bit more. So from that standpoint, I thought it was a good test for us. We’re trying to make some final (roster) decisions on some players.”

One of those top decisions is at goalkeeper, where Stefan Frei allowed one goal Wednesday — just as Marcus Hahnemann had Saturday in Seattle’s Challenge Cup-opening 2-1 win over the host Charleston Battery.

As of Wednesday, Schmid didn’t sound ready to announce — or even hint at — his starting keeper for the regular-season opener March 8 against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field.

“Frei played well today,” he said. “And Hahnemann’s played well, as well. I think their goals against are pretty close … but I don’t know.”

Frei, acquired in an offseason trade with Toronto FC, didn’t seem to have more information than that.

“I think it’s in the whole team,” he said. “We’re trying to get the competition on all positions, and that’s just going to force everybody to improve on a daily basis. Hopefully we can continue trying to improve in that way.”

The lone goal Frei surrendered came in the 14th minute. A Will Bruin cross was blocked, but Tony Cascio won possession and sent the ball across the box to Brad Davis, who beat Frei to the far post.

Seattle equalized in the 44th minute when Federal Way’s Lamar Neagle crossed to Obafemi Martins, who scored from near the back post against SeaTac native Tally Hall.

The second half was an opportunity for Schmid to look at 10 new field players in front of Frei.

One of the players was forward Cam Weaver of Kent. He almost beat his former team with a near-miss header in the 54th minute.

“I was there for five seasons, so I’m very familiar with those guys,” he said. “It was good to see them, but I’ve moved on from Houston and, obviously, now am trying to make an impact here.”

The result moved the Sounders to 1-0-1 in the three-game round-robin tournament at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston. They will meet co-leader D.C. United at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“I thought we did well,” Schmid said. “I thought we deserved a goal in that (first) half. It would have been a little bit unjust if we would have come out behind at halftime. Second half, I thought they had a little more of the game — early on especially.

“I think we actually had the better of the chances, but they had the better of the ball possession.”

ADDED TIME

In the second game of the Challenge Cup doubleheader Wednesday, Charleston scored in stoppage time for a 1-1 draw with D.C. United. Former Seattle forward Eddie Johnson came on in the 68th minute after United started with an all-reserve lineup. ... The Sounders confirmed they have signed 2014 second-round draft choice Jimmy Ockford and sent the former Louisville defender on loan to the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. “The loan with the Cosmos is great because he’s going to get a full season worth of games there,” Schmid said. “And I think that will help his development because he’s definitely a player for the future.”

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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