TUKWILA, Wash. — Thursday’s training session at Starfire marked the return of the full squad to practice after the end of the international break. While some of the international players had returned earlier in the week, the international games Tuesday meant that a handful of players would be late to get back into full training.
Among those who were late arrivals: Midfielders Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris, who played substantial minutes over the two USMNT games — the latter of which was a demoralizing 2-0 defeat to Canada that has set social media and soccer talk radio alight with anger and recrimination.
On the positive side, neither Morris nor Roldan appeared worse for wear after the break, save possibly a dent to their egos.
“It was a difficult environment, they’re [Canada] a good team,” Morris said. “It is going to be a process and I know it’s going to be difficult at times. It’s a tough one to swallow.”
Roldan noted that the US lacked the intensity Canada had, which contributed to the dispiriting result in Toronto.
“Canada brought it, they were up for the game,” Roldan said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t win our second balls. Credit to Canada for bringing it to us.”
Morris will be coming off a 45-minute shift versus Cuba and a 90-minute run against Canada, and the prospect of two additional games in five days—should the Sounders advance—means he knows the focus will be on taking care of himself physically. “Feeling good, feeling excited obviously,” Morris said. “The main focus will be getting the body right.”
This will be Morris’ first playoff series since his rookie season in 2016, having missed the 2017 playoffs with a serious hamstring injury and the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL. “This is where it really starts to get fun,” Morris said. “The weather’s changing and it all adds up to a really good environment.”
With the two-week break, coach Brian Schmetzer said he’s had ample time to scout FC Dallas, but that there are still some questions that he likely won’t have answers to until the game kicks off.
“The question still remains, how do they play tactically?” Schmetzer said. “Is he going to come and do what he did last game? Is he going to come press? Is he going to sit even deeper? There’s still some nuances there, but what we’ve done is watched enough film to give our guys enough tools in their toolbox to solve whatever they might throw at us.”
None of the internationals appeared to pick up any knocks during their games over the break, meaning Schmetzer should have essentially the full roster to pick from. Victor Rodriguez has been in full training the last two days, giving Schmetzer hope he will be a factor in the playoff.
“He’s full [training] today,” Schmetzer said. “So [if] he’s full tomorrow he’ll feature in the game.”
Schmetzer said he had a chance to catch the highlights of Tacoma Defiance’s 1-1 draw at New Mexico United, and had praise for the performance of goalkeeper Trey Muse, whose exploits made Sportscenter. “Tommy [Dutra] done a great job, Trey’s worked hard.” Schmetzer said. “You put two things like that together and sometimes they reap the benefits. It was an impressive game yesterday for the kid.” ... Both Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez have been absent from training, as they prepare for the U-17 World Cup.