SEATTLE — When the Seattle Sounders take the field at CenturyLink Field Saturday, there will be a number of uncertainties as Seattle looks for its first points—and first goal—of the MLS season. Perhaps the most crucial to the fans is what style of game will develop between possession-happy Seattle and Montreal’s counter-attacking nature.
Brian Schmetzer wasn’t sure which to expect when he addressed the media Friday.
“They’ll be able to have the ball at certain points of the game,” Schmetzer responded when asked about denying Montreal the ball. “It could manifest itself as a run-and-gun type of game if we’re on the front foot, getting some chances, and they get some counters. It could be more of a tactical match where we need to have that possession and patience. We’ll see.”
The answers to questions on the lineup card will inform the stylistic tone of the match. Nicolas Lodeiro fully participated in training and is expected to return to the lineup after missing the Chivas and FC Dallas matches. Schmetzer expressed confidence that Will Bruin, though still in the concussion protocol at the time of writing, would clear it in time to play Saturday. Bruin has been a full participant in training this week.
If Lodeiro and Bruin play, it will help fill the hole left by Clint Dempsey’s red card suspension and help allow the Sounders to control possession as they looks to exert their will against the Impact (1-2-0).
Speaking to the media Wednesday, Bruin said he and his teammates were hungry to make amends for the slow start to the year.
“Luckily, I’ve been able to bounce back pretty quick and get back in training,” Bruin said. “Training has been very intense. I don’t think anyone is happy with how we went out of Champions League and then the follow-up result in Dallas. We’ve had some time to have that bad taste in our mouth and that’s made training more intense.
“I don’t think we change anything that we do (against Montreal). We play our style and make the teams adapt to us. Now that we’re getting everybody back, all of our attention is on (league play). That shows our mentality that we want to win now and we want to win every week and that’s something that this team can do.”
Centerback Roman Torres said the defense would have to work hard to avoid giving Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti and Jeisson Vargas too much space in transition.
“We really have to maintain our concentration and make sure all of our players are marked,” Torres said through a translator. “They have some really quality players. They really step up on the counter, as long as we’re focused and concentrated on the guys in front of us, we’ll be able to do our job.”
For Schmetzer, despite his desire to reward the home support with a quick strike, patience will be the key in taking stock of the Impact.
“I’d like to score early,” Schmetzer said. “I’d like to get the crowd behind us, but if they’re going to defend and counter, which is their style of play, you can’t rush too fast. Cough up the ball in the middle of the field because you’re trying to force things in and allow them to get into any sort of transition game.”
Whether Saturday’s contest is box-to-box or a grind against a compact defense, look for the Seattle to take the match to Montreal in an attempt to jump-start their MLS season.