TUKWILA, Wash. — After two days off (or one, if you exclude Monday’s travel day, as Stefan Frei noted), the Seattle Sounders got back to work, trying to move past two disappointing results in the last week. Only able to garner one point in the last two games, the Sounders somehow remain in second place, though that positioning is contingent on some favorable results in games Wednesday evening.
Good news first: The Sounders welcomed back two large presences to their backline, as Xavier Arreaga and Roman Torres returned from the respective suspensions. Arreaga only missed one game due to a red card versus FC Dallas, and therefore should have no issues reintegrating into the rotation. Torres, however, returned Wednesday for the first time in 10 weeks, having completed his suspension for violating the MLS Substance Abuse Policy.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer was pleased to have the Panamanian center back in training again, but said whether he returns to the lineup this weekend is still to be determined.
“It’s his first day back, it’s our re-intro day,” Schmetzer said. “He did the extra work, he’s been working hard [but] let’s get through the week and closer to game day and we’ll talk about his involvement.”
Torres wasn’t able to have any contact with the first team during his suspension, so the team will spend much of this week seeing where he is fitness-wise before making a decision.
“I think he’s a little tired because I made him do a little extra work with Damien [Roden],” Schmetzer said with a smile. “We’re working on his fitness and seeing where he’s at.”
Schmetzer also addressed the status of Designated Player Nico Lodeiro, who was a late scratch against D.C. United with a lower back injury. Schmetzer characterized his status as day-to-day, and the midfielder was absent from Wednesday’s training session.
“He’s doing OK, he’s a tough kid,” Schmetzer said. “If we can get him back on the field, then he’ll play because he’s obviously a big part of this team. We’re hoping to have him back for the weekend for sure and if he can’t make it then we’ll get him back for Minnesota and we’ll go from there.”
The Sounders know first-hand that the Earthquakes present a difficult challenge, having had to score two second-half goals just to eek out a home draw when the teams met back on April 24. While the Earthquakes have essentially the same personnel as last year, their performance is significantly improved, as they sit in the final Western Conferece playoff spot with 44 points, as opposed to a last-place finish last year.
“San Jose is a different beast than what they’ve been in years past,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “There’s a sense that there is a belief in their coach [Matías Almeyda] that has given them a surge of energy and self-belief. They’re going to be very dangerous.”
Schmetzer attributed much of the improved play from San Jose to their head coach, who brought in a unique man-marking system that has given opponents fits.
“Matias has done a great job. He’s made that team believe in his system,” Schmetzer said. “We know what he tries to do, the problem is they do it well. They present some different challenges that we don’t see very often. We’ll try to mimic a lot of the stuff they do on the training field and try to make them change to us.”
Center back Jonathan Campbell continues to work out on the side in training, as he works back from a calf injury. ... Lodeiro and Will Bruin aside (ACL), no other Sounders appear to be suffering any lingering effects from the three games in eight day swing. ... The Sounders can clinch a playoff berth if both San Jose Earthquakes and the Portland Timbers drop points against the Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution, respectively.