Sounders bond on Argentina trip

[MLS] Team-bonding and good competition are two reasons MLS coaches take their teams on foreign trips during preseason. Such jaunts occasionally involve adjusting and adapting to changing circumstances dictated by weather and other factors, and on the final game of its Argentine tour Seattle encountered both a tough opponent and unexpected circumstances.

River Plate's reserves beat the Sounders, 1-0, Thursday on a turf field adjacent to its Estadio "Monumental," site of the 1978 World Cup final. Heavy rains the day before necessitated the switch, which is something the Sounders became accustomed to while playing four games in the South American country.

The Sounders will play on FieldTurf at Qwest Field but have mostly trained and played on grass during the preseason.

"Each game we've had this trip we weren't sure where we were going to play, when we were going to play," said midfielder Brad Evans. "Last night we finally found out that the game was going to happen and it was going to be on turf. We weren't expecting Astroturf, like it is right now. You deal with it when you get here."

Damien Lizio scored for River in the 84th minute, drilling a shot from 10 yards into the top corner against a team of mostly backups Coach Sigi Schmid had inserted at halftime. He used his starters in the first half, during which Seattle's best scoring chance came from a Sebastian LeToux corner kick that Tyrone Marshall headed on frame and River keeper Gonzalo Marinelli deflected around the goalpost.

In the first half Marshall was paired in central defense for the first time with Colombian Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who joined the team in Argentina after signing three weeks ago. That duo is expected to anchor the Seattle defense in what could be a rough introduction to MLS competition.

"The River Plate team that we played today, they're very technical, a lot of touches on the ball but it doesn't matter," said Marshall. "For us, we want to be positionally sound and I think we did that in the first half. We were moving, we were trying to knock the ball around. Whenever we got possession I thought we did well. Defensively I thought we were solid today.

"Now we just have to keep building on it because we have the opener in two weeks."

Seattle kicks off the 2009 season at home against New York on March 19.

Three minutes after Lizio's goal, defender Pat Ianni did the same as Marshall with an Ely Allen corner, but again Marinelli came up with the save.
Seattle finished 2-1-1 against Argentine clubs during its tour and is 7-2-1 overall during the preseason. It flies home Friday, takes the weekend off, resumes training Monday, and plays Colorado in a closed-door match Thursday at Qwest Field. On turf.

"It's been a positive trip," said Schmid. "I think we've learned things about ourselves. We've gotten more minutes for guys together on the field, so the understanding is better. You learn from doing things successful, you also learn from things that don't work. You learn a lot that way.

"I think we accomplished that. It allowed us to continue to work on our fitness and allowed us to push that in the right direction. It's been a good trip for all those factors."

March 5 in Buenos Aires
River Plate 1, Seattle Sounders FC 0
Goal: Lizio (Lossano) 84.
Seattle (1st Half) -- Keller; Scott, Marshall, Hurtado, Riley; Le Toux, Evans, Alonso, Nyassi; Jaqua, Montero.
Seattle (2nd Half) -- Eylander; Brunet, Wahl, Ianni, Brown; Allen, Caugherty, King, Clark; Fucito, Levesque.

 

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