Last weekend, the Seattle Sounders FC reserves got in a little work and a 7-0 victory as they ran circles around Gonzaga in a training game.
This weekend, the Sounders hope things will be more difficult – and more productive – as they kick off their official MLS Reserve League schedule at San Jose against the Earthquakes’ reserves.
“The main advantage is that you are playing against better competition,” coach Sigi Schmid said Monday. “You’re playing against guys who are in a similar position You’re playing against guys who are coming back from injury as well, guys who for one reason or another aren’t (with the first team). You get better opposition, and that makes it a good thing.”
There was plenty of experienced professional talent on the Starfire Sports Complex training pitch Saturday – enough to overwhelm a high-level college team. Playing for the Sounders were former All-Star defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, MLS veterans Roger Levesque, Taylor Graham, Nate Jaqua and Pat Noonan, international veterans Alvaro Fernandez, Miguel Montano and Mauro Rosales, and recent draft picks Michael Seamon, Servando Carrasco and Josh Ford.
“Go through that list,” Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer said. “You could very easily look at it and say there are a lot of high expectations for our group, because we have some very, very good players.”
The result was a predictable shutout victory with seven Sounders scoring.
MLS revived its Reserve League after two seasons off to help develop young players, help players returning from injury and help others who don’t see the pitch with the first team.
On example is Seamon, who appeared in eight games as a rookie forward/midfielder, but who is now trying to return from nerve damage in his leg.
“I dug myself a little bit of a hole by being injured, and some guys had the opportunity to show themselves, and they played well,” he said Monday. “It’s tough, but everyone gets an opportunity. Some reserve games will probably help me out.”
The Sounders and Earthquakes will meet in an MLS match Saturday in San Jose.
The Sounders reserves will open their 10-game schedule the next day.
Home matches at Starfire Sports Stadium will be May 9 vs. Chivas USA, May 15 vs. Portland, June 7 vs. Vancouver, June 13 vs. Los Angeles and Oct. 11 vs. San Jose.
“We’re definitely going to try to make it more like a regular game,” Schmetzer said. “These games will still be competitive, obviously because of the ramifications of doing well. But put it in front of a thousand people and it’s a thousand more reasons why you need to do a good job.”
Former Sounders designated player Blaise Nkufo, who reached an agreement to leave the club two weeks ago, announced his retirement Monday. Manchester United will meet the MLS All-Stars for the second consecutive season on July 27 at Red Bulls Arena in Harrison, N.J. The English Premier League power beat the 2010 All-Stars, 5-2, before a crowd of 70,000 in Houston. Manchester United will announce other stops on its summer U.S. tour today, and a friendly at Qwest Field against the Sounders is considered likely. Javier Morales was voted MLS player of the week after scoring two goals in Real Salt Lake’s 4-1 win over Los Angeles. MLS has hired nine-time All-Star and former national team member Jeff Agoos as league technical director for competition.