Wednesday, December 19, 2012
SEATTLE — Sounders FC will kick off the 2013 MLS season in a familiar role: Host.
The league announced home openers for all 19 teams Tuesday, and for the fifth straight year Seattle will be at CenturyLink Field for its first game. The Sounders face the Montreal Impact on March 2 — one of six MLS matchups on opening day.
Kickoff time and broadcast information will be made known in coming weeks when the rest of the league schedule is announced.
Seattle is 3-1 in home openers, three of which have served as stand-alone MLS openers on national television (2009-11).
The Sounders will have multiple competitions to consider in early March. A two-leg quarterfinal series against Mexico’s Tigres UANL in the CONCACAF Champions League will be March 5-7 and 12-14.
Seattle got a Week 1 bye in MLS last year to help focus on the CCL. It remains to be seen if the team will get similar relief in Week 2 of the upcoming season.
Two Sounders will serve suspensions for the March 2 opener: midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who received a red card after a season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the playoffs, and defender Marc Burch, who was banned three games for directing a gay slur at a Real Salt Lake player during a conference semifinal game.
Alonso training with English club
Sounders FC confirmed Tuesday that Alonso is in England for a one-week training stint with Premier League club West Ham United. The trip was coordinated by the midfielder’s agent and the Sounders.
Alonso, who trained with English club Everton after the 2010 season, is Seattle’s three-time team MVP and a two-time MLS All-Star. Last month, the 27-year-old Cuban-American was named to the MLS Best XI for the first time.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid had said three weeks ago that there were no plans in place for offseason training stints abroad, but that “there might still be one or two (players) who might go.”
Sounders FC gave up conditional draft picks to Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake this past season to acquire goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Mario Martinez, but those selections won’t apply in the 2013 drafts.
Seattle holds all of its natural picks in the two-round SuperDraft on Jan. 17 and the four-round supplemental draft on Jan. 22.
The team also picked up a first-round supplemental draft pick from Philadelphia in a trade that sent defender Jeff Parke to the Union.
The Sounders lost out to rival Portland in a weighted lottery Tuesday for former U.S. youth national Mobi Fehr.
The favored Timbers had an 83.1 percent chance of being awarded Fehr, who has played defender and midfielder for the U.S. at the under-17, U-18 and U-20 levels.
Seattle had a 15.5 percent chance of winning and San Jose had 1.4 percent.