By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
TUCSON, ARIZ. — The season hasn’t really started yet, but the Sounders have a new trophy for their case.
A second-half goal by Alex Caskey and seven saves by Marcus Hahnemann helped a team of Sounders reserves beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 Saturday in the final of the Desert Diamond Cup.
“When you lose it, people will say it doesn’t matter, it’s just a preseason trophy,” Hahnemann said after the cup presentation at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. “But it’s a great feeling. To see my roommate — Caskey — popping up with another goal today … is awesome. We had a great day. And the young guys — on trial, a few of those guys — and we come out holding a trophy. That’s our goal this year, is to win trophies and silverware. It’s just the start.”
Coach Sigi Schmid had chosen to use his starters Friday night in a friendly against Veracruz. That left him with an all-reserve squad to send against RSL, which went mostly with regulars.
After gaining experience against a Mexican club the first night, and gaining a cup the second night, Schmid seemed happy with the way things worked out.
“We got 90 minutes out of our starters (Friday), we got 90 minutes out of most of the guys (Saturday), as well,” he said. “I thought the guys played great. It shows the depth of our team. … There were a few minutes there at the end of the first half where we were scrambling, we were on our heels a bit. But after that we caught ourselves, and I thought we did good.”
In those minutes when RSL began finding holes in the Sounders defense, Hahnemann rose to the occasion. Five of his saves came in the first half, including a couple of acrobatic ones in the air and on the ground.
“It’s nice to have a backup goalkeeper like that, isn’t it,” Schmid said. “It keeps (starting keeper Michael Gspurning) sharp. He came up with some great saves (Friday) night, and Marcus is certainly quality and showed his experience as well by slowing the game down at the right times, bringing some calm to our team.”
The lone goal came in the 51st minute, when Sammy Ochoa cut through the middle of the field and slipped a pass to Caskey down the right wing. Caskey lost his defender with a cutback move, and knocked the game-winner inside the near post.
The match concluded the Sounders preseason schedule. The team went 4-0 in the Desert Diamond Cup and is 4-1-1 overall.
Their next match will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, when they open their fifth Major League Soccer season against the Montreal Impact at CenturyLink Field.
“I think we’re ready,” Schmid said. “We got 90 minutes in each of the groups. We know we’ve got to play some guys — we’ve got guys out with red cards in the first game — but guys got a chance to show what they can do, and I think we’re set.”
Former English Premier League defender Djimi Traore has signed with the Sounders and will be added to the roster pending receipt of his visa and International Transfer Clearance. Traore, 32, played 16 professional seasons in Europe, including seven with Liverpool. He becomes the first UEFA Champions League winner to join the Sounders. He is expected to join the club for training early this week. … The Sounders also announced the signing of second-round SuperDraft choice Dylan Remick, a defender from Brown.