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Sounders recall Jimmy Ockford, sign pair of S2 players for West Ham friendly

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The 2014 second-round draft pick returns from his NASL loan for one match, suggesting Seattle's top centerbacks may sit this one out.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Sounders have called in the reinforcements to fill out the roster for tonight's friendly match against West Ham United. S2 players Zach Mathers and Michael Nelson have been signed to short-term contracts with the first team, and defender Jimmy Ockford has returned from his loan with the New York Cosmos to feature in the exhibition game.

With fixtures piling up for the Sounders and the usual midseason collection of minor injuries to several starters, Seattle will likely look to limit the minutes for their most important players in this meaningless match. In many past friendlies, both sides have fielded a mostly first-choice lineup for the opening 30-45 minutes followed by wholesale substitutions of backup and reserve players to finish out the game.

Mathers' callup is no surprise. The S2 standout midfielder has featured in both the Sounders' Open Cup matches so far, thanks to the MLS rules allowing single-game loans for such competitions. He is likely to be an early substitute in the midfield for Seattle. The Sounders bringing in two reserve center backs in Nelson and Ockford suggests that Brad Evans, Chad Marshall and even Zach Scott may play only very small parts (or no minutes at all) at CenturyLink Tuesday.

Marshall may still be feeling the effects of migraine-like symptoms that forced him off the pitch in Toronto, and has a history of concussions that might warrant even more caution with such a condition. Evans is still recovering from a relatively minor calf injury that kept him out of that latest MLS match. Meanwhile just-turned-36-year-old Scott has put in 210-plus match minutes in the six days leading up to the friendly against the Hammers.

Ockford was a second-round draft pick for the Sounders in 2014 and went on loan to the Cosmos that year. Returning to Seattle in 2015, Ockford made one MLS appearance. This year Ockford was loaned to New York again and has eight starts in 10 appearances for the NASL side, including subbing into the US Open Cup victory over NYCFC.

S2 will be without two of their starters in Mathers and Nelson as they travel to take on St. Louis FC on Wednesday. Both players have 12 appearances this year for the USL side, and Mathers has a found a goal and two assists.