Just two days after their grueling draw in San Jose, the Seattle Sounders were back in training at Starfire Sports on Monday, with a few players doing some indoor “regen” training. Most of the squad was outside though, with those that started on Saturday taking it a little easier than the rest. Head coach Brian Schmetzer elaborated on a few players that had been struggling with various levels of injury over the past week.
Captain Brad Evans, who did not make the matchday squad in San Jose, apparently had “a little issue with his back” after a training session last week. Evans was in training today, and Schmetzer said that he expects the captain to be available for Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Joevin Jones suffered a foot injury during the match in San Jose, and had to be replaced by Oniel Fisher in the second half. Schmetzer praised Fisher’s performance after coming in for Jones, but said that Jones should be “ready to go” by the weekend.
It was revealed on Saturday that midfielder Cristian Roldan had been nursing a sore ankle, and Schmetzer said after the match that he played “80 minutes on one leg” against San Jose. Roldan trained with the rest of Saturday’s starters on Monday, and Schmetzer said that he “fully expects him to be ready to play against Vancouver.”
Speaking of Roldan, Schmetzer also noted that there’s a possibility that the young midfielder could shift back to arguably his best position in central midfield with Osvaldo Alonso on Saturday, with Brad Evans potentially playing on the right side of midfield. But Schmetzer said that it’s too early to know how his team will line up this weekend: “we haven’t figured it out yet.”
Schmetzer seemed mostly pleased with the play of Roman Torres since his return from injury two weeks ago, but the coach was careful to temper his praise with the suggestion that Torres is still a work-in-progress. “There’s obviously some things, a little bit of rust to shake off.” He said that, for a player who hadn’t played a match in a year, he gives Torres “high marks” in his appearances so far. Schmetzer said that defenders coach Djimi Traore will continue to work with Torres, and that they’ll be analyzing film this week to try and improve before the match with Vancouver.
In the same vein, Schmetzer said that while he is pleased with the performances of a variety of players, the focus is about winning games. “All of our focus will be on generating chances, defending well, and making sure we manage the game.” He wants his team to be mentally and emotionally ready for a tough derby game, and eliminate the few “dustups” that happened in San Jose. “We gotta make sure we keep things in check, and our mental focus is on doing our jobs.”
As for what Schmetzer sees as the most important aspect of Saturday’s game, the playoff implications or Cascadia bragging rights? “The playoffs are number one. Like a millimeter underneath that, it’s Vancouver and Portland. That’s all I need or should have to say.”