Zach Scott Column: Aloha Oukou. PS We're Undefeated!
Sounders FC's Hawaiian defender makes his debut as a columnist for soccerly. People tend to downplay a little the benefits of winning pre-season matches but Scott maintains it means just a little more to the players.
The Zach Scott Column
Aloha Oukou. PS We're Undefeated
Yes it's preseason and the games don't count in the standings but still, I think we all naturally want to win any game that we're in as a team and as an organization. It's something we want programmed into our DNA.
When we step on the field, we compete, regardless the time of year, the tournament, the importance of the game, winning needs to be contagious and it all starts in the preseason. People outside our team may brush off a preseason win as not important, but believe me the players are keeping track.
It's hard not to when you've got buddies playing on other teams or when you're playing long time rivals...we tally another win in the Sounders column. I'll explain it this way, we have a small sided game we play before almost every practice called Blue vs Orange. Why is it called that you may ask? It's because one team wears blue pinnies and the other wears orange (ingenious, I know). Sometimes it's 4 vs 4, sometimes it's 10 vs 10 in a 20 yd by 40 yd small field.
You don't switch teams at any time during the year, you're either blue through and through or orange through and through. Anyway, we head out to the field 30 minutes early to set up the game and are in full two footed tackle mode by the time the coaches come out to start practice.
There is a running tally of games won on the white board in the locker room and in years past the losers have had to buy the winners Jamba Juices or something like that. It's gotten so competitive that friendships have been tested, insults have been slung, and I may or may not have threatened to "punch you in the head" if you didn't let us have the ball.
That's just a small example of the pervasive culture of winning we want in our team, but I think a relevant one when you're trying to teach the rookies how important winning is to this organization.
"I may or may not have threatened to "punch you in the head" if you didn't let us have the ball."
Preseason games are a double edged sword. For veterans is a chance to get fit and sharpen your touch. For rookies it's sink or swim. As a rookie you've been almost playing off your back foot for the first two weeks of training camp. You're trying to keep your head down, acclimate to the speed of play, and not foul a veteran too hard in training.
Once games start against other opponents, that's when you need to turn it up a notch or you'll find yourself getting less and less playing time as the games come more frequently.
Players like Jimmy Ockford and Damion Lowe turned it up at just the right time. The two paired up at centerback for our first game against San Jose and thoroughly manhandled a good SJ attack. It was great to see and something I think they both needed. I made sure that they both knew I was impressed with their performances.
As we move into the second leg of preseason in Charleston, SC and the double days dwindle and are replaced by more games, the team will take closer shape to what it should look like for the year. Some players will be pleased to make the roster and others will unfortunately be on their way out, but one thing will remain consistent, when you put on that rave green jersey you always compete to win.
In my next piece, I'll tell you how we got close, too close, to the squad of our local rivals Portland Timbers.
Who knew animosity could seep through wall grouting?
A hui hou
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