The Seattle Sounders go into this weekend’s home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps having played 27 matches so far this season, so it’s no surprise the team is a little banged up. Clint Dempsey, while he’s been cleared to train after being diagnosed and treated for an irregular heartbeat, is still at least a week away from returning to action. But it’s starting to look like the rest of the squad is starting to get a bit worn down too.
Captain Brad Evans, who did not play against San Jose last weekend due to what was later identified as a slight back injury, seems unlikely to start against Vancouver. Head coach Brian Schmetzer said Evans is a “slim possibility” and that while he’s “not ruling anything out, that’s a game-time decision. I’ll see what he feels like tomorrow.”
Jordan Morris and Joevin Jones, who both returned from stints with their respective national teams last week, were limited in Friday’s training session. Jones was substituted in the second half against San Jose with a slight foot injury that has limited his time on the training pitch this week. Schmetzer said that both were a little “dinged up” and that they were brought off early mostly for preventative reasons. “If a guy doesn’t train, it’s not ideal, but at this point in the season, the starters that have nicks and aches, I’m going to hold them out so they are ready for game day. That’s just my philosophy.”
As for Dempsey, he trained again with the team on Thursday and Friday but there’s been no indication he’s been cleared to play in matches yet. Schmetzer said he “can’t answer” whether or not Dempsey will be ready to go in the next week or so, but he did speak positively about having Dempsey back on the training pitch. “He’s in good spirits, the team is happy to have him out there.”
As for the club’s opponents on Saturday, Schmetzer praised the Whitecaps and head coach Carl Robinson. “Carl is a good coach, he gets them organized, he has them good on set pieces.” Schmetzer noted that, while he has fully prepared his team for the intricacies of the Whitecaps, “it’s still soccer. It’s 11v11...it’s a game we have to win.” Rather than worry about the different ways his opponent could line up and what their various threats are, Schmetzer simply said that his team has to be ready for anything. “We have to take it to them and be ready for whatever they present to us, but it’s mainly about us and making sure that our pieces, our parts, are moving in the right direction.”
As fans and media analyze and discuss the Sounders’ chances for the playoffs, Schmetzer said that even though he doesn’t know the exact math about where his team stands, his players know that they need to go into every match with the goal of getting 3 points. “From this game to the last game, regardless of where we are in the standings and in the playoff race, that is a must-win for us.”