TUKWILA, Wash. — Coming off a stretch that has seen the Seattle Sounders capture six points in six games, the team returned to Starfire Tuesday continuing to search for answers to what ails them. Interestingly, the team did not appear to start training until nearly an hour after the scheduled start time of 10:30 a.m. The delay was attributed to a film session that “went long,” though the coaches had long since made their way out to the training field, meaning the players were by themselves for at least 20 minutes.
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier with a matchup against eternal rivals Portland at the newly refurbished Providence Park set for this Friday, and the team looking for a way to regain their acknowledged lost confidence.
“It’s going to be a massive game for us and for the fans,” midfielder Gustav Svensson said. “We just need to go back to basis, find the things that make us what we are and try to work harder and help each other.
“We have to talk about the confidence in both the attack and defense. Confidence comes often with wins and victories and have to make sure we start getting three points and confidence will come back.”
While Svensson didn’t confirm whether the team held a players-only meeting, he did indicate that the players are discussing the current issues amongst themselves.
“We have meetings,” he said. “We talk in small groups, we’re talking in bigger groups, we have video showing what we’ve done this season that has been great and [we] try to get back to that.”
With a big rivalry match on the horizon, coach Brian Schmetzer said he believes that will help the team focus on the task ahead.
“It’ll be added motivation,” Schmetzer said. “Good performance, good result always moves you regardless of what time of year. And you double down with it being your arch rival with a little bit of payback for what happened up here.”
The Timbers’ transition attack is something that Schmetzer said the Sounders will have to focus on, though the goals conceded in L.A. he said were due in part to lapses an concentration and the imposing presence of a high-level forward in Zlatan.
“On the first goal, you’ve gotta give Zlatan some credit because Kim [Kee-Hee] was all over him,” Schmetzer said. “Portland is a different beast; gotta stop their transition, so we’ll definitely look at the film, message that and train that tomorrow.”
Emannuel Cecchini was absent from practice today, and Schmetzer indicated that his absence was related to resolving the Visa issues, and that he would have a “smile on his face” when the midfielder makes his expected return on Wednesday. ... Brad Smith made his return to training today and appeared to be full in with no issues. ... Victor Rodriguez, however, was absent from training, though Schmetzer said the Spanish midfielder was on his own recovery program. ... Nouhou was also absent from training and though he didn’t say it explicitly, Schmetzer implied that the left back may be the odd one out as the Sounders look to clear an international slot to bring Cecchini in. “There are options on the table,” Schmetzer said. “You can buy international slots, you can sell players, you can do many, many different things.” Loaning Nouhou to Tacoma would be one such option.