While the core group of likely starters is on a Saturday-Saturday pattern, the friendly against Nacional is in front of the home crowd, and it is Nicolas Lodeiro’s boyhood club. Over the preseason players have played a half or less during the midweek stretch so you should expect to see several expected starters starting the midweek friendly.
But Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer can also use the 90 minutes against Nacional to get a handful of players closer to fitness and to increase the competition among the rotational players.
While the subs did fitness after their loss to FC Dallas today Schmetzer noted, “We’ve kind of settled in on a core group of guys but there’s four-five guys in that group that can contribute.”
Harry Shipp was a regular last year and has looked impressive in preseason. He’s also played fewer than 100 minutes in known preseason matches. Centerbacks Jordy Delem and Jonathon Campbell could both use more experience working together and/or with Marshall and Kim.
And then there’s Nouhou. He missed most of preseason to this point due to a combination of visa issues and the possibility of a sale. At this time, he’s played the fewest minutes of any player under contract and less than all but two trialists. Saturday he scored a late goal to give the club some honor, and to show the staff that he’s still here.
“There’s still competition on that left-hand side,” Schmetzer said. “We’re not just going to say ‘Okay, Brad, you’re the guy’ because Nouhou came on and showed you what he can do. There’s still a little competition there.”
Early in the season Schmetzer indicated that he will need to rotate more than he typically does. There is a midweek game six matches into the season, right when the coach expects his team to be at 90 minutes effectively fit.
What does all of that mean for Wednesday? Probably a starting lineup close to what we’ve seen as the “Ideal XI” but with a few changes;
Frei; Nouhou, Kim, Delem, McCrary/Wingo; Svensson, C.Roldan; Rodriguez, Lodeiro, Shipp; Ruidiaz
At half expect all of those except Nouhou and the starting right back to come off. Bruin, Morris, and Smith may all come on, but the rest of the line change is likely to be a showcase of the players who will take the field for Tacoma Defiance — especially Danny Leyva, who has the 8th most known minutes to this point.
Then, against San Jose on February 23 you should expect to see a tighter squad, focused on the 15-17 players that will determine wins and losses in March.