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Sounders defense depleted again ahead of Saturday’s match

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They might be backups, but they’re coming off their second clean sheet of the season

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Los Angeles Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

For the second match in a row, the Seattle Sounders will likely be scraping the bottom of the defensive depth barrel as they face the New England Revolution at home. Luckily, their 3rd and 4th-choice center back and 3rd-choice right back have combined with starting left back Joevin Jones for the team’s only clean sheets of the season so far. Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Oniel Fisher, and Roman Torres are all unlikely to be available on Saturday for the second time in two weeks.

Evans is still making his way back from a very extended absence due to a calf strain. Head coach Brian Schmetzer said that Evans is “still on the program” that he’s been on since preseason, and that the team is taking extra precautions to not aggravate the injury. It’s taken “a little bit longer than anticipated,” said Schmetzer. “It’s our job as a coaching staff to weigh the short term gain versus having him out for a longer period of time.”

Marshall and Fisher are out for just the second week in a row, though Fisher’s issue is a hamstring injury that has bothered him off and on since the start of the season. No updates have been provided this week by Schmetzer, only that the club and coaching staff are doing all they can to get the players healthy. Marshall’s injury has only been referred to as a “sore back,” though Schmetzer mentioned earlier this week that it had to do with “ligaments that hold the discs in place.” Marshall has not been seen training on the outdoor pitches in any capacity this week, whereas Fisher has done some light work with the coaching staff.

Initial reports on Roman Torres’ hamstring strain, which he suffered earlier this month in San Jose, gave a two-week estimate for his return. It’s been nearly a month since that injury, but Schmetzer seems to think Torres could be ready to go sooner than his teammates—but that return will likely not happen this weekend. “He’s not quite [there],” Schmetzer said, “and I don’t want to put him at risk.”

On paper this seems like a pretty tough blow to the Sounders defense, and Schmetzer said on Friday what he often does when his team has a handful of injuries: “we’re a little dinged up.” But as we’ve mentioned multiple times this week, the backline that faced LA and will likely face New England has shown itself to be more than capable of handling their opponents.

Schmetzer’s favored philosophy in such situations, “next man up,” has worked out pretty well so far. He admitted that the attackers did a big part of the job against the Galaxy by holding the ball and “taking it” to their opponents, but he praised his defense for the historically remarkable task of leaving StubHub without conceding a goal. “The defenders certainly did their job, Stef did his job, got a clean sheet.”

Even though Saturday’s match is at CenturyLink Field and the Revolution come to Seattle without their best attacker, Schmetzer doesn’t expect his opponents to park the bus. And this isn’t even an indictment on his own defense, but rather praise for Jay Heaps and the parity in MLS. “I think most coaches in MLS understand that it’s a league full of parity. So on any given day, his team can get on top of our team, and there are also ebbs and flows in the middle of the game.” He said that Heaps is a “very smart coach” and it would be surprising if the Revolution bunkered in at CenturyLink. Either way, Schmetzer said, “we’ll be ready.”