After a heartbreaking loss in the Conference Finals last year, the Seattle Sounders are back with new international players, new uniforms and real shot at their first MLS championship.
The Sounders finished third in the Western Conference at the end of the 2012 regular season, a spot ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy, the team that would end up claiming the MLS championship title.
Despite the heartbreaking defeat by the Galaxy during playoffs, overall last season was great for the Sounders–with the addition of new, talented players and an average game day attendance of more than 40,000 fans, the Seattle Sounders were more on top of their game than ever.
And with their first game of the MLS Regular Season this Saturday at CenturyLink Field against the Montreal Impact, the team is primed for another successful season, both on and off the field.
On March 6, the Sounders will travel to Monterrey, Mexico to play Tigres UANL in their first game of the 2013 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions League. The CONCACAF Champions League is the annual international football club championship for the teams in this region. The Sounders will also host Tigres UANL at home on March 12.
Next the Sounders will take on our Pacific Northwest rivals, the Portland Timbers, at home on March 16th. But fans will have to wait until May for the team’s hopeful redemption against the Galaxy.
This season was the first in which season ticket packages failed to include an international friendly. But there’s still a possibility the Sounders will host another large, successful friendly this year. The team has hosted well-known international clubs in the past, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona.
The entire 2013 Sounders schedule is available here.
The club has added some fresh, international faces for 2013 season. They’re are known for having a strong, international roster–out of the thirty players on the team, half come from outside the US, including England, Argentina and Sweden, to name a few.
The team recently signed French defender Djimi Traore, who’s played professionally in Europe for sixteen seasons. Traore has played seven seasons with Liverpool, and he most recently played with Marseille in France. He’s the first UEFA (Union of European Football Association) Champions League winner to join the Sounders.
Despite the fact that fan-favorite Fredy Montero left the team in January on loan to the Colombian-based Millonarios Fútbol Club, the addition of these new players to the existing talent, including forward Eddie Johnson (who was just recently named the MLS’ Comeback Player of the Year and was one of the top scorers of 2012) and top MLS goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, will combine to make the Sounders the dream team of the MLS.
The Sounders are maintaining a global view off the field too, continuing their participation in various community outreach programs throughout the 2013 season.
One example is the Washington Global Health Alliance, which hopes to educate and improve health locally and globally. This January, Sounders defender Marc Burch and former goalie Kasey Keller traveled to Tanzania for nine days in connection to the WGHA to observe health projects focusing on combating tuberculosis in HIV positive children, vaccinating dogs for rabies and the effects of malaria on schoolchildren. The players documented their trip via social media and travel blogs.
The Sounders also partner with America SCORES Seattle, which offers third-fifth graders in high-needs elementary schools in the Central District, Rainier Beach and White Center the opportunity to participate in an after-school program that combines soccer and creative writing. The team players that are involved in this program help develop leadership and teamwork qualities in the often low-income, minority students who reside in these neighborhoods.
The Sounders kick off their season Saturday at Century Link against the Montreal Impact. Watch for match day promo activities like a 100-foot-long scarf that will be flying over Seattle and Bellevue, free Chiptole chips and guacamole giveaway and the usual “March to the Match” through Pioneer Square before kick off.