On the heels of a last-gasp draw in sticky, sweaty Houston, the Seattle Sounders prepare to head down I-5 for their second matchup with Cascadia rivals the Portland Timbers in just a single week. Head coach Brian Schmetzer said that he was pleased with his team’s play on Wednesday, despite it being “pretty brutal” in Houston. “Their determination, their mindset, pushed them through to get that goal. I expect nothing less on Sunday.”
Schmetzer admitted that the match against the Houston Dynamo “wasn’t going to be a pretty game,” but that he was especially pleased with how his team made it to halftime unscathed. He rued the missed chances, but was content with most of them at the time, because the score was still 0-0. Despite “one small miscue at the back” that led to Houston’s lone goal through Andrew Wenger, Schmetzer said that he “thought it was a strong defensive performance by the team.” Luckily, Schmetzer said that the late goal by Lodeiro to snag a point out of the game made it a “positive trip” for him and his team.
As for the somewhat controversial non-goal that looked to maybe (or not) have crossed the Dynamo goal line, Schmetzer said that he’d like to say it went over the line because it’s his team, but that he couldn’t say for sure after seeing replays. “It’s too tough for the assistant referee to get it. I think he did the best job he could, I thought he was in the right position, in his mind it just didn’t go all the way over.”
Going into the Portland trip, the Sounders are in “good” health—aside from Clint Dempsey, who is being evaluated further by the medical staff for an irregular heartbeat. Chad Marshall, who was also held back from the Houston trip, was seen doing full training on Friday and is available for Sunday.
Schmetzer didn’t promise anything, but said that Roman Torres could finally make an appearance against Portland. He said that he tried to find Torres some minutes, but the “situation changed a little bit because the scoreline went the way it did, so I wasn’t able to get him in.” But Schmetzer said that he could make an appearance, especially to deal with the potential threat of Fanendo Adi, who according to Schmetzer is “a big kid, who has caused us some problems in past games.” He noted that final decisions won’t be made until Saturday or Sunday, based on the health of the squad going into the trip.
Even though he was pleased with the result in Houston, Schmetzer lamented his side’s lack of chance creation in the course of the 1-1 draw. He said that, based on Portland’s style and the fact that they’ll be boosted by their home crowd, “we cannot bunker against a good Portland team for 90 minutes.” Schmetzer wants to focus on “good team defense, creating chances, playing hard, playing firm,” because going for a win on the road in MLS against a big rival “is never easy.”
Aside from playing team defense and refusing to bunker down against the vicious Portland counterattack, Schmetzer didn’t mince words regarding his game plan for Sunday. “We’re gonna go out and we’re gonna attack and try and score.”