TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders held their one and only practice here on Wednesday before they depart for Minnesota ahead of Saturday’s game, and it was an eventful one.
Arguably the best news of the day concerned the injury situation, which has plagued the team over the last month. Wednesday’s session saw the return of five injured players: Nouhou, Chad Marshall, Will Bruin, Victor Rodriguez and Raul Ruidiaz, the latter of whom had been out since the match in Vancouver at the end of March. What was thought to be a minor injury ended up keeping the forward out for almost exactly a month. Bruin and Rodriguez had more recent injuries, but combined had stretched the Sounders to the point where they were only able to field 17 players versus Los Angeles FC.
Bruin, Rodriguez and Ruidiaz went through full training without any incident, while Nouhou and Marshall participated in a more limited fashion. Schmetzer seemed to indicate that all five were likely to be available on Saturday. Gustav Svensson trained on the side.
“Raul was very happy today; Will was very happy today,” Coach Brian Schmetzer said. “I’m confident that everyone is available, except for Gustav.”
Almost as big for the Sounders hopes on the weekend was the successful appeal of the red card issued to Cristian Roldan, which means that midfielder will be available on the weekend.
“Happy that I’ll be able to compete against Ozzie [Alonso], really a mentor of mine,” Roldan said. “I understood why it was a red; there was contact to the face. I always felt hopeful it would get rescinded.”
Roldan did not escape completely unscathed, as the fine issued for not leaving the field in a timely manner remains in place, but the fine that accompanied his red card will be lifted.
“I might even pitch in and give him the $250,” Schmetzer joked, referring to the fine assessed to Roldan.
The other piece of news included an addition to the first team roster, as the Sounders announced the signing of 17-year-old forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez to a first team deal. Specific terms were not disclosed but Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey did confirm it was a five-year deal inclusive of team options. Ocampo-Chavez is currently with the U-17 US National team in preparation for Concacaf qualification for the U-17 World Cup, so he (along with other recent signee Danny Leyva) will not be available for the game this weekend.
“That was a process that was a long time coming,” Lagerwey said. “Going into Concacaf qualifying, knowing that he’s a pro along with Danny Leyva and they were on equal footing; I think these kids are going to be cornerstones of this team and potentially of the World Cup success of the United States going forward.
“We are signing Alfonso because we think is a tremendous young man, we think he’s a tremendous talent and we think he is somebody that can help the Sounders.”
The team departs for Minnesota on Thursday and will train there leading up to the game Saturday evening. Reflecting on the last three games, Schmezter noted the negative was the lack of results — especially at home.
“You had three games and two points, that’s not good enough,” said Schmetzer, adding that circumstances with short rest and the red cards mitigate some of the concern. “There’s good resolve within the squad,” he said. “But it’s not going to get any easier.”
One area of concern is right back, where the Sounders will be without starter Kelvin Leerdam due to the red card he received in the dying moments of the game versus LAFC. Schmetzer did not let on about what the team will do. The most most obvious options are one of veteran Saad Abdul-Salaam or Homegrown Player Henry Wingo.
“We’ll talk about that, and try and find a solution,” he said.