Sigi Schmid speaks softly and carries a big squad.
In the span of 19 hours over the weekend, the Seattle Sounders FC coach watched 35 players don the rave green during the MLS preseason at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium.
Seattle is a team in transition and new faces abound after a busy offseason. Five of the players who started Seattle’s final match of 2013 — a 3-2 loss to Portland that eliminated the Sounders in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals — are gone. Four of the top 10 in minutes played last season have left, including former captain and playmaker Mauro Rosales.
“It gave us a chance to see a number of players,” Schmid said of the busy two days. “It’s important to us because we are still putting pieces of the team together. We did a little bit of a makeover and have some new players and we have to get that cohesion.”
Sounders FC drew 0-0 with Portland in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader and defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-1 in a closed scrimmage on Sunday afternoon. The team, which flew back to snowy Seattle after Sunday’s match, went 3-0-1 during its 12-day stay in Tucson.
In addition to filling the new spots, Seattle had two players — Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin — recently return from the U.S. national team and still awaits star midfielder Clint Dempsey, who is on a two-month loan to Fulham in the English Premier League.
One of the postseason acquisitions was defender Chad Marshall, a 10-year veteran from Columbus who was picked up in a trade.
“I think Chad Marshall showed his quality,” Schmid said after Saturday’s game against Portland. “He wins everything in the air. He’s very calm. He doesn’t give away things easily, and that’s the reason we wanted to get him.”
Another player making an impression in Tucson was Martinique national Kevin Parsemain, who is a training camp invitee. He netted two goals in Arizona, including a wicked strike just outside the 18-yard box that gave Seattle a 1-0 lead Sunday.
“He’s got a good technical ability and he’s a little bit different than some of the forwards we have,” Schmid said. “His shot (on the goal Sunday) was just a well-taken volley and he got all of it. It’s one of those that if it were a regular-season game it would be up for goal of the week.”
Forward David Estrada, a former UCLA star who has been with Sounders FC since 2010, can already see a difference other than just the new faces.
“This has probably been the biggest turnover in terms of personnel,” Estrada said. “I think it started even before preseason. We received an email that this team is going to be a hard-working team as a whole. Not just talented players because maybe that’s a little bit more of what we had in the past.
“I feel like this year is going to be a little bit more 11 players behind the ball defending and 11 players attacking. So the intensity (in preseason) is pretty high compared to other years.”