TUKWILA, Wash. — After leaving the swamp-like conditions in Houston with three valuable road points, the Seattle Sounders returned to practice Tuesday at Starfire under more seasonable conditions. With a full week of training ahead of them prior to Sunday’s home match against Sporting Kansas City, the team is hopeful to have some reinforcements — and resolutions — for their roster.
On the reinforcement front, the Sounders welcomed back Henry Wingo and Victor Rodriguez to training. Wingo has been on a trial of sorts overseas while Rodriguez has been dealing with a hamstring injury. “Victor was out here running today, looked good,” Schmetzer said. “He actually joined in some the the exercises; he was in the possession game.” Gustav Svensson worked to the side as he recovers from his own hamstring issue, though it doesn’t appear to be as serious as the other hamstring injuries that the team has suffered. “Gustav was running around the field today, so encouraging news,” Schmetzer said.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Danny Leyva remains with the team, though he was called in to the US U17 camp, which Schmetzer said it should be an indication of his value to the club right now. Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who also entered the league and started playing at a young age, said he was very impressed with the 16-year-old’s maturity. “Danny’s exceptional,” Roldan said. “He’s has a very good engine, willing to learn and runs up and down the field and uses his engine to his advantage.” Looking forward, Roldan hopes he continues to develop and push himself. “I would love to have him challenge himself and say ‘look I want to be a starter on this team.’”
There was no resolution on the “will-they-won’t-they” Brad Smith saga. Smith suffered an injury in the Houston game and wasn’t present at practice, and his loan expires on July 31, though the Sounders say they are still working on it. Late Tuesday evening, Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer hinted on Sports Radio 950 KJR that some positive news was imminent. “We will have an announcement in that regard tomorrow....I would say that we hope to make some people happy tomorrow,” Lagerwey said. The injury is not expected to be serious.
Raul Ruidiaz returned to training today as well, having missed the game Saturday as he was in concussion protocol. Though Schmetzer last week indicated there wasn’t much of an issue, he held his hand up and said he was wrong about Ruidiaz’s status last week. “I’m not a doctor, and so sometimes if I say something, maybe I’m not always correct,” Schmetzer said. “But he did enter the concussion protocol, and now he has to get out of the concussion protocol.”
With a spate of unexpected injuries and absenses, Schmetzer relied once again on his depth in Houston to get a result. In particular, Saad Abdul Salaam and Nouhou (who garnered team of the week honors) filled in admirably with Kelvin Leerdam on the bench and Smith leaving with an injury. “Kelvin’s been dinged up a little bit, he’s had an ankle that’s keeps locking up on him,” Schmetzer said. “I thought this was a good game to get some guys a couple of minutes. I thought it was a good performance.”
On Nouhou’s “team of the week performance,” Schmetzer demurred on the suggestion that Nouhou is a finished product defensively. “Defending is not all physical, it’s a lot of tactical, where your positioning is on the field,” Schmetzer said. “I think there’s some room for growth there.
“I wouldn’t call him the finished product, I think his ceiling’s even higher.”