During last year’s miracle run to win MLS Cup, Brian Schmetzer’s changes to the starting XI were nearly always due to player health. He rode the squad hard, and it paid off. Most changes this year are also due to player health. The exceptions are at the left mid/target forward spot when the switch to put Jordan Morris wide, start Will Bruin up top and bench Harry Shipp was for tactical purposes.
The next three games are a different situation. Saturday night the Seattle Sounders are at Chicago. On Wednesday they are at Kansas City and then on the Saturday the 20th the Sounders host Salt Lake. It’s a tough stretch.
Due to injury recovery, several players are not fully fit and certainly cannot start all three of those games and likely couldn’t do the first two back-to-back. Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, and Oniel Fisher are capable of being in the 18 and contributing, but only the Sounders know if they can go 90 (if even they know). Roman Torres might also be on that list as he did not play 90 in their last game and has just recovered from his own injury.
Henry Wingo and and Nouhou will be out for both games. Jordy Delem will be unavailable due to MLS adjusting a mistaken yellow.
Selection will be a bit difficult. Our, fans and SaH, guesses are going to be even more difficult than what the Sounders will be doing.
Let’s work through some assumptions;
- Jordan Morris continues to play on a bad ankle and could use rest to heal
- Dempsey can start all the matches, but may need a sub
- Evans, Marshall, Fisher cannot start both road games
- Schmetzer isn’t going to play for a road draw
Let’s address that first one. Start Harry Shipp and give Morris a day off. Don’t even travel him. Let Jordan recover in Seattle for an extra couple days and then catch up to the team in Kansas City. Shipp is going against his former team and knows what it takes to beat them.
If that’s done the front six are settled against Chicago. Joevin Jones, Roman Torres and Gustav Svensson all start. That leaves one spot open on the backline, but two players who are able to start.
At the beginning of the year Evans was supposed to be the right back. Seattle could use a bit of an attacking boost as they play without Morris. In this scenario, Svensson plays LCB and Torres at RCB.
That also means that Marshall can join Morris with a couple more days of recovery. Fisher and Alfaro can be the bench defenders.
Frei; Jones, Svensson, Torres, Evans; Alonso, Roldan; Shipp, Dempsey, Lodeiro; Bruin
Then against Sporting Kansas City Schmetzer could insert some rested and slightly healthier players.
Frei; Jones, Marshall, Torres, Fisher; Alonso, Roldan; Morris, Dempsey, Lodeiro; Bruin
Finally, against RSL and at home, the team could finally deploy its Ideal XI. Then everyone can get a standard week, or maybe even an extra day off.