TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders returned to training Tuesday at Starfire as the team — and league — continues to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus.
The Sounders aren’t home for the next two weeks, so whether their next home game will be postponed, played behind closed doors or cancelled won’t be determined immediately. However, some smaller changes have already been implemented, with MLS closing locker rooms to post-game interviews, and a barrier has been erected for post-training press scrums.
The team itself seems to be getting healthier, with Designated Player Nicolas Lodeiro participating in the full training session, which lasted more than 90 minutes today. Lodeiro’s return would provide an obvious boost to the team as their prepare for their first MLS road trip of the season in Houston.
“Nico’s very good. Full training,” coach Brian Schmetzer said after practice. “He just needs to have the doctors’ clearance and make sure that nothing goes wrong with a full week of training.”
If Lodeiro is available for selection, it would allow Schmetzer to move his players back to their optimal positions. In his absence, Schmetzer has used both João Paulo and Cristian Roldan in the No. 10 role, with Roldan starting there versus Columbus. While Roldan can and has played the position previously, Schmetzer agreed he is probably better utilized elsewhere.
“It’s challenging because he’s versatile enough, so sometimes that works against you,” Schmetzer said. “It takes awhile to get used to so I think Cristian does a good job [but] is it his natural position? No.”
Will Bruin also continues to work his way to full fitness coming off of his ACL injury last spring. He’s participated in full training for two weeks, so the next step is to get him some game time, Schmetzer said.
“We might give him a rehab start with Defiance, we need to make sure the doctors clear him as well,” Schmetzer said. “Having him everyday in full training is the best test we can do.” Although Bruin has signed a USL loan agreement, Schmetzer said the game against San Diego Loyal on Wednesday might be too early. “I”m not sure the Wednesday game was a game we targeted,” Schmetzer said.
The Houston game typically presents a tough test for the Sounders, given the length of the trip and oppressive heat and humidity. However, the mid-March game should mitigate the heat, and the Sounders are likely to exercise a charter flight for travel. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement requires teams to use eight charter legs this year. “It’s good to go into Houston a little earlier in the year,” Schmetzer said. “Houston’s one of those places we would consider [to charter]. It’s a longer flight.”
The Sounders received good news Tuesday night, as the Tacoma Metro Parks Board voted 4-1 to adopt the Letter of Intent between The Soccer Club of Tacoma, the City of Tacoma and Metro Parks to negotiate a soccer specific stadium. That followed the Tacoma City Council vote last week adopting the LOI. The next step to negotiate a comprehensive agreement, which would also need to be approved by the City Council and Metro Parks. ... Jordy Delem was in full training today, after missing the game Saturday, while Handwalla Bwana was training to the side.