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Practice Notes: Sounders finally have some competition for starting spots

Seattle should have close to a full lineup available this weekend.

TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders continued their training at Starfire on Friday as they prepare to take on Atlanta United in a high-profile match Sunday at CenturyLink Field, and for the first time in what seems like forever, coach Brian Schmetzer is a bit spoiled for choice.

With the exception of Will Bruin (season-ending ACL surgery) and Victor Rodriguez (hamstring strain), Schmetzer should have his full complement of players to choose from, and the competition at training hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“If you were just watching what they were doing, they were competing,” Schmetzer said. “The negative comes when you have to make tough lineup choices. Getting that balance right is going to be key. The last two training sessions, they have been very competitive. They’re all happy to be back together.”

With the team finally close to full strength, left back Brad Smith noted the importance of competition in the context of games coming up through the end of the year.

“Everyone getting minutes, that’s what teams need,” Smith said. “You need players to step up when players get injured. It’s great to have everyone there and it’s going to be a good second half of the season.”

Notes:

Sounders left-back/midfielder Joevin Jones had not yet returned from his excused absence to be present for the birth of his child, but Schmetzer said he should be back imminently. “He’s on his way back,” Schmetzer said. “He will be back for the game on Sunday.”

Though he wasn’t ruled out for Sunday, it doesn’t appear that Victor Rodriguez will be available for the game Sunday. “He’ll do two days of work, be off, more work and the trainers will get ready as fast as they can.”

Xavier Arreaga has impressed the coaching staff with how quickly he has adjusted to MLS play, even though the plan was not necessarily to have him play so much early on. “You saw his last couple of games, those games were quality,” Schmetzer said. “He’s still got some things he needs to learn about the league, but he has got a bright future with this club for sure.”

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