On Sunday at CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Sounders have a chance to continue the momentum that they’ve had for the past couple of weeks as they take on Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake. This is their third overall meeting in 2016, the first being a 2-1 loss early in the MLS season, and the second was the late June nail-biter that ended in a penalty shootout to send the Sounders to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. Head coach Brian Schmetzer suggested that, for the neutral, this could be quite the matchup.
“They are a very good possession-based team. I think we are a very good possession-based team,” Schmetzer said. “For the soccer purists, it could be a very exciting match.”
Schmetzer also praised the epic history between Sounders midfield stalwart Osvaldo Alonso and RSL’s Javier Morales. “Ozzie and [Morales] have had so many good battles over the years. Ozzie might win some times, other times Morales might win.” Schmetzer said that the battle is always entertaining and interesting for both fans and neutrals alike, and that he’s “looking forward” to a good game between the two veterans. “It’ll be key for [Alonso] and Cristian to take care of [Morales].
As for the rest of his own team, Schmetzer was coy on any details. He refused to give an update on whether or not centerback Roman Torres would be in contention for Sunday’s match. “The health and welfare and safety of the player is always number one, so I wouldn’t put him on the field if there were any risk of re-injuring his knee.” Schmetzer said that he only wants to get Torres on the pitch if there are “no issues at all,” and that he is confident enough in his current set of defenders that he doesn’t feel pressure to throw Torres in before he’s completely ready. “Once he’s in full fitness and he’s ready to go...then my job becomes very difficult.”
Most importantly for the Sounders, though, is that the squad hasn’t lost their intensity or desire to win matches this season. Schmetzer said his players have not thrown in the towel, and training sessions are still an important, intense affair. “This group is not finished. They sense that we can do some good things still, so a lot of it’s on them. We are so focused on RSL and getting that group of guys correct, and after that game is pushed aside, then we’ll prepare for our next one.”