Coming off of a huge victory on national television versus 2018 MLS Cup champions Atlanta United, the Seattle Sounders returned to the practice field Tuesday preparing to take on the Portland Timbers, the team Atlanta defeated in that championship game last December.
But, there is the small matter of a midweek friendly to think about.
German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund pays a visit to CenturyLink Field Wednesday, as they look to start their preseason. While these high-profile friendlies bring additional eyeballs (and dollars) to the Sounders and MLS, the game itself is somewhat unfortunately timed in that it prevents the Sounders from focusing all of their energy on the Timbers. That issue is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the Timbers will be playing a midweek game of their own Thursday against visiting Orlando City.
Coach Brian Schmetzer said the team is hoping for a good performance Wednesday, mindful of previous games when the scoreline in a friendly got out of hand. “The guys that step on the field, make sure they’e focused on Dortmund because we want to put on a good performance,” Schmetzer said. “Fans are coming to pay money to watch us play, so we need to make sure the group that gets out there is prepared.”
Reflecting on the Atlanta game, Schmetzer was happy with how the team played, having finally gotten most of the team back from international duty and injuries. “Any time you play the defending champs, you’re going to be up against it,” Schmetzer said. “That was a big game and good win for us to establish that home-field advantage. Now we just have to springboard that into a couple of more road victories and see where we end up at the end of the year.”
With the Sounders playing three games in eight games, Schmetzer acknowledged that some of the starters will only see limited minutes against Dortmund, but expects those who play significant time to play hard. “It’s two days rest in between any starters we have out there; they’ll certainly see limited minutes, but again, we’ve gotta buck up,” Schmetzer said. “This is a big game, guys should be excited to play against Dortmund. The biggest thing is recovery and making sure nobody is at injury risk.”
- Speaking of injury-risk, several Sounders were not heavily involved in training, which Schmetzer noted was the result of differently players being on different recovery/training protocols. Midfielder Nico Lodeiro was a light participant, while Jordan Morris worked inside. “He’s just sore,” Schmetzer said of Lodeiro. “Days like today, guys are always on their individual programs.”
- More cryptically, Schmetzer didn’t provide any update on midfielder/right back Henry Wingo, who has been absent from the team over the last few days. Reports have surfaced that he is training with Molde FK, but the team has not confirmed that.
- Victor Rodriguez is another player on an individual program, and he appears to be nearing a return, though Schmetzer confirmed he won’t be a participant in the Dortmund game.