With just over 24 hours to go until the Seattle Sounders' second match against the Vancouver Whitecaps in less than a week, coach Sigi Schmid barely hinted at his team's lineup for the CONCACAF Champions' League match at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday. When asked directly about the starting XI, Schmid responded dryly to reporters after the team's practice today, "that's for me to know and you to find out tomorrow night."
Regarding the team's emotional state at playing one of the club's biggest rivals for the second time in just a few days, Schmid admitted that there can be a little animosity left over for a variety of reasons, but that he respects Vancouver coach Carl Robinson and praised his tenure at the Canadian club. Schmid did note that the match's importance in the context of the CCL competition will have a bigger effect on his squad than rivalry or revenge: "it's a game that if they win, they advance, and if we win, we advance. A loss or a tie doesn't get us anywhere, and a loss or a tie for them makes their final group game at Olimpia that much more important. Both teams are going to try and come out and win the game."
When asked about any chippiness from Saturday's match against the Whitecaps carrying over into Wednesday's, Schmid danced around any direct statements about Vancouver's style of play, saying "they have their style and they stick to it. We have a feeling as to how we can play against them. We got beat at home against them off set pieces, so we have to make sure that we tidy it up there."
Possession will be the name of the game for Seattle, according to Schmid: "the more we keep possession, the better form of defense it is. We have to make sure not to give them chances to counter and stretch us, because they're a counter-attacking team."
The closest Schmid came to revealing his lineup strategy for Wednesday was this cryptic nugget: "It might not be all young guys, but it might be." Niggling injuries could also affect the team's lineup, as Schmid noted "we don't want to put any players into a situation where they're in jeopardy of having a long term injury." He also noted that he expects a different lineup for Vancouver, due to their league commitments and various injuries (Morales, Beitashour). When asked if the tactics would stay the same as they were at the weekend, Schmid admitted that some things would be tweaked to suit the players picked in the starting XI as well as the opponents' predicted team. Schmid pinpointed Darren Mattocks as a potential key player for Vancouver, whose role in the game could change both sides' tactics.
As many fans have assumed, Schmid admitted that the Sounders' focus right now is on the league, "because of the position we're in, we want to continue to gain points and push ourselves up." He also mentioned that Sporting KC, the Sounders' weekend league opponent, also has a midweek match that helps eliminate any potential rest advantage that Kansas City might have over Seattle.
As for Osvaldo Alonso, who was subbed off late against the Whitecaps on Saturday, Schmid didn't seem too concerned. "He was fine, he went through training today. He went through the warmup, and then did some individual work." Apparently it wasn't even serious enough to warrant any tests from the medical staff, as Schmid reiterated that Ozzie is "fine." It's worth mentioning that Alonso did finish training a bit early, but it's likely because he wasn't involved with the entire team's practice activities.