By Mark Vincent Lincir

On perfectly manicured fields, in weather that was more suited to the homes of the participants than the bundled up locals, MLS newcomers Vancouver Whitecaps defeated RSL 2-1 in a three-45 minute periods match at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona on Tuesday morning.

The match got quite chippy despite the preseason tone with both teams tackling with authority. RSL new signee Arturo Alvarez netted his first goal despite the loss.

On a field just yards away, the Seattle Sounders wrapped up a spirited morning workout and headed for the training room then lunch at the same resort that Western legend John Wayne used to visit back in the day.

I caught up with Veteran Seattle defender James Riley. He sees the team expectations rising every year that the club is in the league. “We’re a proud club and our goal this season is not only to make the playoffs, but to make a deep run into them.”

When I speculate that the only trouble the team can get into in Casa Grande is possibly some cow-tipping, he offers a laugh. “It’s a good thing that there isn’t much trouble to get into down here. It’s pretty isolated, but it’s good from a team-bonding aspect. We’re just getting to know our rookies and we’ll make them get up and do something at our team meals. We hang out and play cards, the dialogue is good. We plan to make it into the city (Phoenix) a little bit later in the week.”

Seattle continues to train throughout the week with an eye on a Friday afternoon scrimmage against an MLS opponent. RSL left town Tuesday afternoon, but will return to Phoenix soon and Vancouver will continue to train at Grande Sports World for another week.

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