As they have for much of the 2017 MLS season so far, the Seattle Sounders went into Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution in a "pretty banged up" state, as Brian Schmetzer has said. The starting back line that faced New England drew praise for its clean sheets against Atlanta United and the LA Galaxy, but they found themselves exposed quickly against the Revs’ counter attack. The team may have cleaned up at the other end to earn a late draw, but conceding three goals at home was roundly deemed unacceptable. Unfortunately, the team may have to send out a similar back line in this weekend’s MLS Cup final rematch against Toronto FC.
The only good news we’ve had so far (after all, it’s only Monday) is that Roman Torres, who came in as a late substitute (at forward!) against New England, may be healthy enough to start on Saturday. Schmetzer said Torres’ appearance "was unexpected. He took one for the team there, he wasn’t supposed to play."
The plan was for Torres, who is coming back from a hamstring issue from early last month, to prepare for the game and probably stay on the bench—unless there was an emergency. I don’t think anyone prepared for the particular emergency that saw Torres playing at forward, but Schmetzer’s gamble paid off. "We could’ve pushed Tony up or something, but Roman is very good in the air, he scares people.
"In case we had to dump balls into the box, I wanted him to be an animal inside the box and get his head on things," Schmetzer said. "I think it worked, I think he drew some attention."
The other three defenders that were out against the Revolution are still in various levels of rehab, and it seems unlikely as of Monday that any of them will be ready for Toronto. Brad Evans, who has been training in full for most of the last couple weeks, was in full training again on Monday and seemed to be hitting acceptable maximum speeds when tested by trainers. Chad Marshall trained outside for the first time in about two weeks, but he only did light work and jogging with trainers. "Chad was out here in soccer shoes which was good," Schmetzer said. Oniel Fisher did a little bit of training outside as well, more than Marshall but not fully incorporated with the rest of the team yet.
If I had to guess, the only player out of that trio that’s even a remote possibility against Toronto would be Evans. But unlike the others, he hasn’t played a competitive minute for the Sounders this season. He’s working his way back to match fitness, but the best he can hope for against Toronto is likely the bench.
Looking towards the other end of the lineup, it’s worth noting that forward Jordan Morris apparently didn’t do more damage on Saturday to the injured ankle that’s been bothering him all season. He was cleaned out by New England’s Andrew Farrell while through on goal; his shot hit the post, and the tackle clearly agitated his injured ankle. He was subbed off minutes later, visibly limping. Schmetzer said on Monday that he "rolled [the ankle] again" and that the "No. 1 goal is getting his ankle healthy." Schmetzer praised Morris on that play, latching onto Clint Dempsey’s excellent pass and beating "a fast right back."
Even though Morris had to be subbed off and did not practice at all on Monday, Schmetzer said the injury isn’t any worse than it was going into the game. "[Ankle is] same as before, he’ll probably play because he’s a tough kid. Just keep our fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again."