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Sounders Practice Notes: On to the next round

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Seattle prepares for Real Salt Lake

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

TUKWILA, Wash. — There wasn’t much rest afforded to the Seattle Sounders, as they returned to Starfire on Monday to begin abbreviated preparations for Wednesday’s Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semi-final match.

Not that you’ll hear many complaints.

The Sounders are coming off a 120-minute battle against a young FC Dallas team that gave them all they could handle and then some. The extra 30 minutes of high-intensity game play Saturday cuts both ways: The Sounders can say they are now battle-tested in the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs, but the additional wear and tear on the veteran team — many of whom played significant minutes midweek — could present some problems with such a short turnaround.

Much of the talk after training Monday focused on Sounders’ failure to close out FC Dallas when they had the chance.

On the subject of FC Dallas clawing the Sounders back on two separate occasions, coach Brian Schmetzer lamented the fact that they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities to score when the team was up two goals. “Two-nothing, we had a couple of chances,” Schmetzer said. “It very easily could have been 3-0. Our ability to score four goals was great. But our inability to put a team away might have been the biggest thing to take out of it.”

While it’s hard to criticize a team for scoring four goals—no matter when they happen—the team’s defensive performance certainly left something to be desired. In particular, Schmetzer pointed out that the defending on corners needs to be better. “We certainly addressed the set-piece issues. That’s probably an easier fix.” Schmetzer said. “But we made it challenging on ourselves. Against RSL, we need to be clinical.”

Midfielder Cristian Roldan echoed the thoughts of his coach’s thinking that the goals conceded were for the most part due to the Sounders issues in defense. “Three goals that could have been avoidable.” Roldan said. “We dig ourselves into a hole but luckily Jordan pulled us out, Stef plays extremely well, the team was committed and we came out with a victory.”

With eight Sounders coming off international duty, Roldan dismissed any talk of fatigue playing a big role in allowing FC Dallas back into the game. “The second half was a bit slower for us, Dallas when they scored the goal had momentum,” Roldan said. “[But] it’s the playoffs man, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired.”

Likewise, coach Schmetzer didn’t believe that the short turnaround coming into the FC Dallas game or looking forward to RSL will impact the team. “Four days about is fine and we had a 12:30 p.m. kick off, we’ll be fine” Schmetzer said.

NOTES:

Everyone was present and accounted for at training Monday, and no one appeared the worse for wear after the game Saturday. “Everybody’s healthy,” Schmetzer said. ...The Sounders escaped the game with no yellow cards, which means they cannot lose any players to suspensions through yellow card accumulation for the remainder of the playoffs. Red cards would of course result in missing the next game, should the Sounders advance. ...The U-17 World Cup kicks off on October 26, with the United States starting group play on October 27. Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez are in camp training in preparation for the tournament.