While healthier than they’ve been all season, the Seattle Sounders won’t get to debut a full-strength lineup on Sunday, after all. Xavier Arreaga will miss the match — along with Jordy Delem — with an apparent quad injury.
“Xavier has taken an injury in training so Shane O’Neill is going to step in and take his place”, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said during a video conference on Friday.
As buoyed as Schmetzer was by the return of João Paulo and Yeimar Gómez Andrade, he admitted he was disappointed Arreaga would have to wait to redeem himself after he turned in a couple forgettable performances during the MLS is Back Tournament.
“He was super motivated and pushed pass the Orlando incidents or poor performance so it is a little bit of a shame he ended up with an injury,” Schmetzer said.
Arreaga’s potential is the reason Seattle made a significant investment to bring him in as a franchise defender and therefore how he would respond to that adversity was one of the interesting aspects for the upcoming game.
Word from Starfire Complex is that Arreaga was beyond motivated prior to picking up the injury. His effort to reach top form and constant work with Gomez Andrade to better understand each other’s tendencies was evident in preparation for this game.
Schmetzer said he had a few conversations with Arreaga about the previous struggles on the pitch and praised his character to move on. Unfortunately for the defender, he suffered what Sounders at Heart is told is a quad strain during a training session last week.
With three games scheduled over the next week, Arreaga’s absence will be doubly felt due to depth. O’Neill will slot in for the Ecuadorian defender after having already featured in seven of the Sounders’ eight competitive matches this year. O’Neill has apparently earned the trust of both coaching staff and teammates since arriving with the club.
O’Neill will have a difficult task at hand, trying to slow dowm a solid Timbers attack with the lights of Jeremy Ebobisse, Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri. Nonetheless I’ve heard he has a good chemistry with the Gómez Andrade and is working heavily on learning Spanish to improve their communication, a very good start to ensure there are no mishaps on Sunday.