When the Seattle Sounders were first linked with Victor Rodriguez, it seemed to go largely overlooked. At the time, they were still pursuing Derlis Gonzalez and Rodriguez was considered more of an insurance.
While Gonzalez’s signing never materialized, Rodriguez officially joined the team on Aug. 2. The Spanish La Liga veteran was expected to help bolster the midfield and provide some stability to an attacking band that has seen nine different players start at at least one of the three positions.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way yet. Despite drawing raves for his skill and training habits, Rodriguez has yet to log a single minute.
“He’s been on the roster two games, I’ve been trying to get him in,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told the media following Monday’s training session. “But the team comes first. He understands that, the guys understand that. I’m trying to find him minutes. He’s a good player, a talented player. We’ll fit him in there.”
On one hand, it’s a bit concerning that a player the Sounders spent TAM on has yet to break into the lineup. On the other, it probably speaks to Schmetzer’s reluctance to mess with what’s working. The Sounders have won the two games Rodriguez hasn’t played in, after all.
Although Schmetzer didn’t commit to anything, it seems reasonable to assume this week provides a good opportunity for Rodriguez to make his debut. The Sounders will travel to play the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday and then host the Portland Timbers on Sunday. Those games come on the heels of Sunday’s game against Minnesota United and some rotation is surely in order.
The prime candidate among the attackers is probably Clint Dempsey, who has only started on short rest once this season. That came in June when the Sounders were in the midst of a similar run of three games in eight days. Dempsey started against New York City FC on June 17 and against Orlando City on June 21. He then came off the bench on June 25 at Portland, scoring a last-minute equalizer to help get the Sounders going on their current nine-game unbeaten run.
If Schmetzer wants Dempsey to start at home against the Timbers, a reserve performance is likely in order against the Whitecaps. Rodriguez would be a prime candidate to either move into Dempsey’s spot as the No. 10 or play one of the outside mid positions with either Nicolas Lodeiro or Cristian Roldan moving into the middle.