TUKWILA, Wash. – The start to the 2018 MLS season for the Seattle Sounders has been the kind that makes fans want to pull the covers over their heads and go back to bed. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, though, is an early riser and hit the training field with the rest of the first team Thursday after a three-day rest as the club pulls itself together during the FIFA international break.
Frei said that trying to get healthy was the primary objective for the club leading up to its next league match against the Montreal Impact on March 31.
“When you have quite a few injuries you’ve got to take a break,” Frei said. “When you’re healthy you’ve got to play right away and forget the pain and hopefully get a ‘W.’ I think we could use a bit of time on the practice field right now and get healthy and come out better after two weeks.”
Rattled by injuries that have dropped starters left and right, Seattle has failed to grab a point in its first two matches and has a -6 goal differential in all competitions excluding an expected win over Santa Tecla in the CONCACAF Champions League.
For Frei, though, there is no sense of panic within the clubhouse.
“This team has always been very even keel,” Frei said. “When we face adversity and when we go through an unbeaten stretch. We always stay even keel, that’s what it takes to be successful. Every team is going to go through a lull during the season and through a high. It would be nicer for us to start the season on a more positive note for once, but we’re not going to start panicking.
“We know that we have good quality in the side. We just have to make sure that we can actually put that quality on the field all at once. If you have a squad that’s full of talent, that’s great, but If you can’t get them all together, it’s not going to help. Injury is something we need to take into consideration and just do everything we can as individuals (to get better and stay healthy).”
The gods of sports medicine have not taken pity on the Sounders. Already lacking Jordan Morris for the season with a torn ACL, the Sounders have recently lost the services of Will Bruin to a concussion (sustained on the road against Chivas) and Nicolas Lodeiro to a foot sprain. Osvaldo Alonso is still rehabbing a quad injury (although he’s expected to return for the next game). Victor Rodriguez—who Schmetzer described as farther away from playing than his counterparts, but still able to take part in training—is recovering from a knee strain.
If conditions persist, Schmetzer may be forced to put Bubble Boy up top.
Slow starts amidst frantic schedules have not doomed Seattle in the past. The 2016 team started 0-3 amidst a CCL loss to Club America, and will forever have a star over its crest to celebrate late-season accomplishment. In 2017, a 2-5-4 start did not disbar the club from a return to the MLS Cup final.
Still, Frei knows that if the injuries continue to pile up, the early-season woes will amplify.
“We need to make sure that we limit those injuries, he said. “I’m confident that if we’re able to field a full squad, we’re a good side.”