TUKWILA, Wash. — Just two days after the USMNT’s epic win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final--courtesy of Jordan Morris’ late winner—the Seattle Sounders’ US internationals returned to training with the club ahead of Saturday’s away match against the LA Galaxy. Their opponents added a couple of potential wrinkles to the match this week, signing up Sigi Schmid as the new head coach and Jonathan dos Santos as their new Designated Player (though the latter shouldn’t be available to play). But in similar fashion, the Sounders get a huge boost to a squad on a three-match winning streak in the form of Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer said it was good to have the duo back in training on Friday, but he wouldn’t divulge how much of a role each would have in Saturday’s game. “Jordan’s walking on air,” Schmetzer said. “Clint is eager to score more goals.” He noted that both players would be traveling to Los Angeles, but left his update on their statuses at that.
Oniel Fisher, who also returned to Seattle after participating in the final for Jamaica, had the day off on Friday. “He was a little beat up. He played all except one game. He played almost every minute for Jamaica, so I gave him the day off today. Gave him a pro day.” Schmetzer didn’t say whether or not Fisher would be traveling, but considering the depth at full back, I’m guessing it’s not a huge concern.
Schmetzer is clearly focused on his own squad going into this match, and whether or not the returning players play or not isn’t going to be decided by the opponent. Schmid might roll out some changes for the Galaxy, but there’s no real way to prepare for something that doesn’t have much precedent. “The focus for today, the objective for today’s training session, was to work on ourselves,” said Schmetzer. “The messaging to the group was that Sigi’s going to have them ready mentally and tactically, so be prepared for a fight.”
Morris told Sounder at Heart that he was feeling “very good” after his big moment in the final, but he was unsurprisingly very humble about it. “It was a long month and positive, I think. To come out with the win was great, but it’s good to be back with this guys.”
He praised his teammates for the excellent job they did in his absence: “I started watching the DC game when the goals started pouring in, so it was super exciting.” Morris reserved some extra praise for Cristian Roldan, and agreed that his teammate’s time with the national team was great for his confidence and skill level upon returning to Seattle. “I think the level and speed of play is high [in international soccer]. You come back feeling sharp and ready to go, and I think that benefited him.”
Various members of the Sounders contingent will have differing views on facing Sigi Schmid this weekend, and even though he only played under Schmid for half a season, Morris still has great respect for him. “Sigi’s always going to have a special place in my heart, I really appreciate everything he’s done for me,” Morris said. “Signing me, always having my back, supporting me.” Morris confirmed Schmetzer comment about the inability to do much preparation for the changes Schmid might bring, no matter how well they know each other. “Schmetz before practice was saying we can’t really predict what their lineup is going to be because he’s coming in and might change up some stuff.”
As for whether or not Morris feels like he’ll be able to bring his Gold Cup scoring form (tied for most goals in the tournament) to Seattle, he said he feels good but can’t make any promises. “I came out, felt good at practice. Good to be back, hopefully I can just keep it going.” Perhaps talking about both himself and his team, Morris pointed out that this roller coaster of a season could continue in a similar manner. “I think it’s clear that there are a lot of ups and downs in a season, throughout a season, hopefully things can keep going up a little bit.”