TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders finished up a quick two-day practice week at Starfire on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Houston for a Saturday matchup versus the Dynamo. As is customary when flying more than one time-zone away, the Sounders leave Seattle early so as to get at least one practice session in the city where they are playing.
With a short practice week and a relatively long trip, the Sounders didn’t have much time to dwell on the disappointing performance against the Portland Timbers on Sunday. Midfielder Harry Shipp said the team has already moved on.
“Everyone wanted to win so bad, and that’s why you saw emotions spill over a little bit,” Shipp said. “What we’re good at is forgetting about things quickly and moving on. You had the one day off after the game to let things sink in and then back at work yesterday and I think we’re over it.”
With the grueling game Sunday and the prospect of a difficult road game in extremely hot and humid conditions, that meant a significant number of players were on their own training programs over the last two days. None of the starters from Sunday were at practice on Tuesday, and several starters did not train outside today, including Gustav Svensson, Raul Ruidiaz, and Roman Torres. There was some concern that Torres might have been subject to a suspension for his role in the dustup after the game versus Portland, but coach Brian Schmetzer downplayed the incident, indicating the team has not received any notification of a potential suspension.
“Handbags at 10 paces, a lot of pushing and shoving,” Schmetzer said. “Roman’s fine. We’re just going to forget about it and try to do our jobs.” Similarly Ruidiaz, who had several seemingly significant collisions, is also expected to be ready to play this weekend. “Raul will be fine as well, he’s a tough kid,” Schmetzer said.
One final talking point addressed by Schmetzer was the choice of substitutions against Portland. Schmetzer noted that he had heard some of the chatter on social media regarding the decision to use three defensive substitutions in Saad Abdul Salaam, Nouhou and Joevin Jones (though Jones is arguably a midfielder at this point) versus Portland. In explaining his decision, Schmetzer indicated that his conservative nature was behind the substitutions.
“In these big moments, I tend to stick with the senior player and let them win or lose games of that magnitude,” Schmetzer said. “There certainly was talk on the bench of ‘should we put Danny Leyva into the game?’; there certainly was talk, ‘should we have put Ocampo on the bench or Dhillon on the bench?’; but I felt that Raul and Jordan, unless there was an injury, they were going to play significant minutes in that game.”
Turning to Houston, the Sounders have had reasonable success there in recent years, winning in the playoffs in 2017, and prevailing on the road in 2018. But a July visit in oppressive heat and humidity will test the Sounders. “We’re in good shape, and all that work you’ve put in, in January, these are the kind of games it pays off,” Shipp said.
Victor Rodriguez continues to make progress towards a return, but his status for this weekend is up in the air. “We’ll see,” Schmetzer said. “If he’s not 100% ready, we’re not going to risk another hamstring injury.”