TUKWILA, Wash. — Leg one saw the Seattle Sounders without several of their top talents. Brad Evans is out with a long term back injury. Osvaldo Alonso is still recovering from a quad strain, and Jordan Morris, while questionable due to a hamstring strain, did not travel. Stefan Frei was a last minute scratch.
But Friday’s practice featured positive developments for everyone but Frei, who head coach Brian Schmetzer said would have played if the match were MLS Cup.
Frei was among a group of veterans who did regen inside on Friday, rather than out in the light rain and clouds of a rather typical Fall day. Clint Dempsey, Gustav Svensson and Roman Torres were the others indoors.
None of those should be an injury concern, as it was part of their training program. Per Schmetzer regarding Frei, “He did a regen session today. The guys are on different programs. We’ll get serious about the discussions next week.”
Torres is out due to yellow card accumulation.
“We’ll have some of those discussions later in the week, about who is going to step up for some of the other absences that we might have,” Schmetzer said after practice. “I think the young guys played well.”
The straight swap option would be Tony Alfaro. Alfaro started eight MLS matches in 2017, and three more at the USL level.
Other options involve pushing Svensson back to centerback where he has 12 starts this season.
Svensson hasn’t played center back since the Sounders’ 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake, but does have 12 starts there this year in which the Sounders have gone 4-5-3 with 14 goals allowed. At his best, he gives the Sounders the sort of passing out of the back they’ve never really had. At his worst, he can struggle a bit with aerial balls and is prone to being pulled out of position.
The aggressive option is to insert Nicolas Lodeiro as a deep-lying playmaker since both Victor Rodriguez and Clint Dempsey are healthy while Joevin Jones can continue to play on the left.
Another choice would be to use Jordy Delem as the pure defensive mid allowing Cristian Roldan to play the more aggressive box-to-box role he’s excelled at in 2017. Jones would drop to left back and the attacking trio could play behind Will Bruin.
Morris was a full participant. He played as a neutral in one drill and was a standard player in the short-sided game. Alonso was a neutral in the first section, but worked on the side during the mini game.
Schmetzer has several days before making any decision. Seattle hosts Houston on Thursday night at 7:30 PM. Their two away-goal lead in the aggregate series could lead to cautious choice since the Sounders seem likely to be back in MLS Cup.
Brad Evans was out kicking a ball in soccer activities. There should be no expectation that he returns to an 18 this year, but his progress back to health is real.