Playing at CenturyLink Field in front of a massive crowd was nothing short of routine for Former Sounder and 2016 MLS Cup Champion Tyrone Mears, but this time he was sporting red and black stripes and playing against the rowdy fan base in Friday night’s scoreless draw between Atlanta United and Seattle Sounders.
“I spoke to the guys before. We know how important the fans are for Seattle,” said Mears. “We knew it was going to be difficult coming to the champions. We would have to dig in at some point. But we are happy with the performance and a clean sheet for the back four.
After the match, reporters were quick to ask Mears what the hard-fought 0-0 result meant for the expansion side especially with a few significant changes that had to be made in the starting lineup.
“It says that we have a very good squad, squad that can compete,” responded the 34-year-old veteran.
With their Paraguayan playmaker Miguel Almirón and Chilean international Carlos Carmona starting on the bench and leading scorer Josef Martinez out with an injury, the team had to make some adjustments. Players like Jacob Peterson and Chris McCann stepped into the starting lineup for the first time this year. In addition, Julian Gressel and Tito Villalba shifted to other roles to accommodate their healthy and ready personnel.
“But the guys that have come in have done really well and we are going to need that,” stated Mears. “It is a long season and lots of travel.”
Not only impressed by his side’s performance this week, Mears has been captivated by the pure quality and talent of his teammates coupled with the caliber of the coaching staff that has led to three matches unbeaten and a successful start to the club’s inaugural season.
“The coach is massive. His reputation is massive. What he is doing for this team, his players – I’m learning soccer again,” said Mears. “That is how good it is. It is really, really intense every day, and I’m enjoying it. And like I said, if we can continue, keep the squad as healthy as we can, then we will have a good season.”