The positive feeling that was hanging over Starfire in Tukwila on Thursday after Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid happily noted having an almost entirely healthy squad changed drastically on Friday. Just as the weather changed from bright and sunny on Thursday to gray and cloudy on Friday, an almost completely healthy Sounders squad was without two of its most important starters by the end of the training session on Friday.
Clint Dempsey didn't train outside at all on Friday, and head coach Sigi Schmid explained that "we decided to keep him inside today, you know he's had a little bit of a groin [problem]. But we're just being a little bit cautious, the main thing is for him to be healthy. We're gonna make a final decision with him today." Schmid pointed to Dempsey's having played a couple extra matches on international duty, suggesting that a day of rest could do Dempsey some good.
Valdez, on the other hand, participated for a chunk of Friday's session, but was seen stretching and being evaluated by trainers before chatting with Schmid and heading inside early. Not to read into body language too much, but he was certainly looking more disgruntled and forlorn than usual. Schmid said later that "he's also been having a little bit of an issue, we wanted to see how he could go." Valdez told Schmid late in the session that he was feeling a little bit tight in his leg, the same problem that kept him out of the match in Houston a few weeks ago. This seems to be another last-minute decision, and Schmid said that they sent Valdez inside for the remainder of Friday's session to rest and be evaluated.
Erik Friberg trained fully on Thursday and Friday, and Schmid suggested on Thursday that if the player were able to train on both days he'd be available to travel to Colorado.
Schmid gave his assessment of the Colorado Rapids on Thursday, saying that "they're a team that's very confident right now, obviously they've won games and gotten good results, so they've got a little bit of a swagger to them." The Rapids' size, especially on set pieces, was particularly of note to Schmid. He specifically pointed out the Rapids' midfield has played well defensively, specifically former Sounders player Michael Azira and Sam Cronin. Schmid mentioned the Rapids' big signing Jermaine Jones, who capped off his Rapids debut last weekend with a goal and an assist: "he's just a fantastic competitor, he wants to compete, he wants to step on the field. He wants to come out on top. He wants to win the one-on-one duel defensively, he wants to win the duel offensively, he's one of those players who can sense what his team needs at the time." Regarding how to defend such a dynamic player, Schmid said that "you have to be aware of him," because Jones is the type of player that can play in so many places on the pitch.