The World Cup is already taking a toll on the Seattle Sounders' roster. Clint Dempsey is going to miss at least four games and possibly as many as seven. If Brad Evans or DeAndre Yedlin make the final United States national team roster, they'll miss the same. But even if they don't, Evans and Yedlin will at least miss the Sounders' next two games while they are in the pre-World Cup training camp.
As annoying as it may be to be missing the team's leading scorer, its captain and their starting right back, it actually could have been a lot worse.
Chad Marshall, Osvaldo Alonso and Obafemi Martins are all playing well enough to have warranted World Cup call-ups, but have been left out for various reasons. Marshall just never got into Jurgen Klinsmann's good graces, Martins has been on the outs with Nigeria for most of the past year and Alonso never received his release from Cuba that would have allowed for him to switch national team allegiances.
All three players expressed varying degrees of disappointment to be having to watch the World Cup from home, but it was Martins who summed up their collective opinion best.
"If [Nigeria are] going to a World Cup, I'll play my own World Cup with the Seattle Sounders," Martins said. "I'm happy to be here and to play games."
To call any of the three players "snubs" may be overstating it a bit. None of them were ever in a position to really expect to be going to Brazil, but that doesn't mean they aren't equally motivated to prove that they should have been going.
Hopefully, this is the kind of thing that can propel the Sounders forward during the next few months. Even though they'll be missing some key players, their absences are not in a vacuum. The Earthquakes are even more short-handed; the Whitecaps will at least be missing Steven Beitashour (Iran); and Real Salt Lake will be without Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Kyle Beckerman (USA) and Nick Rimando (USA). In the four games the Sounders are guaranteed to be short-handed, the only team they'll face that should be at full strength is the Chicago Fire, a team that has just one win in their first nine games.
This World Cup period should not, then, be seen as a chance for the Sounders to wallow in self-pity. The "snubs" should be playing with chips on their shoulders, their opponents won't be at full strength and the host of veteran reserves the Sounders picked up during the offseason will now get their chances to show they've still got plenty to offer. If the Sounders wanted a chance to show Sunday was a fluke, these next few games are a great opportunity to do just that.