TUKWILA, Wash. — For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Seattle Sounders returned to the training field at Starfire, and as an additional bonus, the team is near full strength. There are a couple of players still away from the club (Raul Ruidiaz and Jovein Jones, more on them in a bit), and one player is dealing with a nagging injury (Victor Rodriguez).
With a high-profile matchup against Atlanta United set for the weekend on national television, coach Brian Schmetzer expects to have a full compliment of players to choose from.
“We look forward to having a full deck of cards come Sunday,” Schmetzer said. “We pride ourselves on being an organization that cares about people. Handwalla had a little family issue he was dealing with, Joevin Jones, the birth of his baby, Raul (arriving today) just getting a flight from a very long trip.
“All of those things we take into consideration and they’ll all be back for Sunday.”
Two players who were involved in full training today were Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, who returned from US national team duty after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Mexico in the Gold Cup final Sunday. Both players played significant minutes over the course of the tournament.
“A tough result at the end, but have to be proud of the group,” said Morris, who logged two assists in about 250 minutes during the Gold Cup. “Every time I step on the field, it’s just doing what the coach asks of me and working as hard as I can to try and help the team.”
Both players conceded that suffering a tough high-profile loss takes some getting over, but returning to the friendly confines at CenturyLink will help them move past the defeat.
“You have to forget about what happened in Chicago against Mexico,” Roldan said. “We knew it was going to be a tough opponent, and the manner that we lost it, I think that’s what’s tough for us. But you have to push it aside and think about the future.”
Victor Rodriguez was at Starfire training to the side, and Schmetzer confirmed the injury is a hamstring strain, though it is not thought to be serious. “He has strained his left hamstring, and we’re going to make that a day-to-day type of deal,” Schmetzer said.
The Sounders also welcomed a new signing in partnership with Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington, signing Bheem Goyal, an 8-year-old battling acute lymphocytic leukemia, to a contract. Bheem was present at practice and trained with Stefan Frei and the goalkeeping unit. “We’re recruiting them early these days,” Frei joked. “Sports always give you an outlet to forget about your worries. It’s really nice for him to come out today and kick some balls and score some PK’s on me.”