After a week with a roster depleted by injury and national team calls Sigi Schmid may get to pick an ideal XI based solely off of form and tactics when the Sounders travel to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Both Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph returned to full training today, with Tuesday's training being major test in how healthy they will be through the week.
"Always when you go through the practice you feel OK during practice and afterwards you are going to say ‘I'm fine' but the thing is how do you feel after you rest, go home and the next morning," Sigi told the media after Monday's practice. "Obviously that will dictate and we'll meet with them tomorrow, but it's good to see them back out there."
Joseph spent six to eight weeks dealing with his injury and may have tried to push himself too hard and stayed out a bit longer because of that. Even if he is healthy this week he feels that he, and two dozen others, need to earn their starting place.
"Once we start finding our identity it's going to be great soccer to watch because we've got great players on this team," Shalrie described the potential for the team when healthy. "Everybody is technical. Everybody is good at their position. We've got 22-24 guys that are going to compete in training to be in the eleven spots on the field."
If both Joseph and Evans are back there is going to be a lot of competition throughout the roster with 17 players that have started matches so far, as well as Obafemi Martins joining the squad. The midfield is particularly crowded and Brad knows he could get time at right back.
"I want to play number one. When we have Shalrie healthy and Mario and Mauro and Ozzie it's going to be interesting to see what happens. To credit DeAndre he's done very well in the first couple games. He provides something back there in that he can almost take more chances and more risks because he's so fast in recovery that he can get up and down the flanks well. We'll see what happens. It will be an interesting week once everyone gets back here this week and we look to Salt Lake," Evans told the media. "Somebody is going to be left out and it's going to be a quality player. That's the name of the game. If we want to push forward we still got to battle. Whoever that guy is you got to put your head down and work. There's always going to be times when not everybody is healthy at the same time. Somebody is going either having a little injury or they've played a number of games and you want to give them a break. Guys will find their way onto the field."
Evans could see more national team time with openings at outside back, but said that the focus for him needs to be on Seattle first.
"There's plenty of games this year to be had with the national team, but first we have to right this ship here."
Coach Schmid is about to get options. Getting the two center mids back will help in different ways.
"Shalrie sees the field really, really well. Brad's a veteran player in this league. He's also a guy that's found ways to score goals over the years that he's played," Sigi said. "Those two guys are guys that help because they help move the ball forward."