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For Sounders, it’s “all hands on deck” against Atlanta United

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Between injuries and international duty, Seattle may be forced into some squad rotation on Friday

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The Seattle Sounders’ 2017 season hasn’t been particularly good or bad so far—4 points from 3 games is certainly better than it was at the same time last season. But as the fourth match of the season looms on Friday, things could get a little tricky for the Sounders when they host the most in-form team in the league, Atlanta United. Between injuries and players likely playing heavy minutes for their national teams this week, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer could face a number of team selection dilemmas.

Probably the most notable injury issue is Jordan Morris’ ankle, which gave him some trouble against the Red Bulls last weekend and forced the United States national team to send him home for treatment. Morris did some jogging and light training with the Sounders on Monday, but Schmetzer said that he can only be considered day-to-day at this point. "We’ll just keep trying to progress him every day. Hopefully he’s ready to play on Friday."

The right back position continues to be a bit of a thorn in Schmetzer’s side, now that both Brad Evans and Oniel Fisher are out with injuries. Evans, whose calf injury has kept him out since before the season started, did some jogging and light training with Fisher on Monday. Schmetzer said that Fisher is still considered day-to-day after a hamstring issue forced him off against the Red Bulls: "Fish is a little ahead of Brad. Fish is day-to-day, Brad is still on his protocol." So while Fisher could be considered still in contention for Friday, Evans probably has at least a couple more weeks of recovery left.

The four remaining international players that are currently involved in World Cup qualifiers are a different story, and will probably cause Schmetzer the most significant selection headaches leading up to Friday. The Sounders coach said that the team understands the importance of big international games like this, but he hopes that it doesn’t prevent any of his best players from playing on Friday. He said that decisions on each player will be on a "case by case basis" and that he’ll be having "a long conversation with each one of them, assess their condition, and field the best team possible for Friday."

Regardless, Schmetzer said that Friday’s match will be "all hands on deck" for the Sounders, considering the quality of their opponents. On a normal week, Schmetzer said, last weekend’s friendly would have been a good chance to force competition for spots from fringe players. "The fact of the matter is that because of the international duty, that kind of dissipates a little bit." So depending on the condition of guys like Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro, we could see a few players from last weekend’s starting lineup take the pitch against Atlanta.