TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders returned to training at Starfire under sun-drenched skies on Wednesday, the unseasonably warm temperatures serving as an apt metaphor for the team’s mood coming off of a late game-winning goal in San Jose.
There was an added bit of good news to improve the Sounders’ disposition: midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro was a full participant in training today, though he wore a red jersey throughout the session which seemed to indicate that contact by his teammates was to be somewhat limited. Still, his participation in practice at least leaves open the possibility that he will be able to play a role in this weekend’s regular-season finale against Minnesota United. Head Brian Schmetzer only offered that Lodeiro made it through training without any issues.
If Lodeiro is able to start, it will present some interesting lineup choices for Schmetzer, as it will allow him to perhaps go with his first-choice attacking group for the first time since the March 30. At least one of Raúl Ruidíaz, Lodeiro, Jordan Morris or Victor Rodriguez has been absent from every game since then.
The lineup against the Vancouver Whitecaps that day saw Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson paired together in the defensive midfield, though Schmtezer sees the benefits with Roldan higher up.
“I actually like Cristian out on the right, he’s very effective out there,” Schmetzer said. “That pair [Roldan and Svensson] was pretty good for us in large parts of ‘17, and they’ll be fine.”
Schmetzer also addressed two of the Sounders mid-season acquisitions: midfielder Emmanuel Cecchini and centerback Xavier Arreaga, who has picked up four yellow cards in his past two games. Schmetzer didn’t indicate any concerns about the frequency of the bookings, nor that he thought the Ecuadorian needs to adjust his game in any particular way. “I don’t comment on the refereeing, but they [yellow cards] were fluky.”
With Arreaga out, the Sounders at least have other options with the return of Román Torres from a 10-game suspension against San Jose. Torres entered the game in the 88th minute, and was able to get about 10 minutes of game time. “Román’s certainly a viable option, Gustav [Svensson] played centerback,” Schmetzer said. “He’s [Torres] ready to go; he thinks he’s ready to go.”
Cecchini has seen limited time on the field since arriving on loan, but Schmetzer said his lack of playing time is more a function of his mid-season arrival and of the other options available rather than anything the player has failed to do.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked,” Schmetzer said. “It’s just a question of how does he fit in? Who was here already? If Nico comes back and Víctor is healthy, who does he start in front of who has already been here for a little bit longer period of time.
“It’s nothing bad with Emma, I just gotta find ways to get him in the game. If the game demands it, he’ll play; if it doesn’t then he’ll continue to work hard and be a good teammate.”
The Sounders saw the return of a couple of familiar faces at training, both past and present. Forward Will Bruin worked out on the side, in his first outside training session since undergoing surgery after suffering a leg injury in training. “He was really, really happy, the trainers were trying to stop him from kicking the ball all over the place,” Schmetzer said. With Bruin working out and centerback Jonathan Campbell in training, technically every first team player signed by the Sounders was out at training, though Bruin obviously will not feature again this year. ... Former Sounder Brad Evans was also at practice, visiting with his former teammates. ... With the Sounders assured of a playoff berth, there is a little less pressure on them on Decision Day. The same cannot be said for a game that will be played about 173 miles to the south, as the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes will be playing each other for their playoff lives. “That’s going to be a tricky game for both squads,” Schmetzer said with a smile.