TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders’ international break wasn’t much of one, the victim of their advancement in the Leagues Cup. Still the players did get the chance to get away for a couple of days at least. So Wednesday was their official return, though the Sounders are still shorthanded as they prepare for a Western Conference matchup with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
The end of the international window means that reinforcements will be at hand soon, though they won’t be returning to Seattle before the Houston match. The Sounders will train at Starfire on Thursday and then travel to Houston to get a rare road practice session in before the game.
During the break, head coach Brian Schmetzer took some time to review the game film from the Sounders’ 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps — a more pleasant experience than after the 2-2 draw earlier this year— and said he thought the team accomplished what they wanted to, collecting three points aside.
“I think we achieved our objectives, obviously getting the three points was the No. 1 objective,” Schmetzer said. “There were certain tactics within the game that I showed them that they did well. We want to be aggressive at home, and how we defend, where we defend, when we defend, those are some of the things I highlighted. And we ended the film session with highlights of four goals.”
That the Sounders were able to score four goals with the amount of players unavailable was a testament to the tactics that they implemented in the offseason, which has provided them with the ability to showcase different looks, Schmetzer said.
“I told you guys about a month ago that teams had started to figure us out,” Schmetzer said. “Small little adjustments in how we play, some of those are paying off and that’s what we need.”
When the team arrives in Houston, the Sounders will be joined by most of the international contingent currently away on international duty. Nouhou, Xavier Arreaga, Cristian and Alex Roldan depending on minutes played, could be available for selection on Saturday, Schmetzer said. One player who won’t join the team is Raul Ruidiaz, who re-aggravated his leg injury.
“He’s getting treatment right now in Peru,” Schmetzer said. “He’ll rejoin us after a couple of road games. We’ll get him back here and get him back on the horse. We know what’s going on, it’s a slight aggravation, it’s not going to keep him out for a lengthy time.”
Another player who will be making the trip to Houston is Jordan Morris, who wasn’t at practice for a very good reason. According to Schmetzer, Morris was with his doctor getting final clearance to train in full. Morris has been going hard in training for the last six weeks, though had only been a neutral in drills. Final clearance would mean there are no further restrictions on his return to the field, fitness concerns aside.
“We will hear from the doctors, but I know what our medical staff is saying,” Schmetzer said. “He has to complete ‘x’ amount of training, and he’ll be eligible for selection.”
Asked to clarify if that meant Morris would not feature this weekend, Schmetzer said that it’s probably a bit too early, but did not rule out the possibility that it could happen.
“I need him to get through a couple of training sessions,” Schmetzer said. “But he’s going to meet us down there, and he’s a tough kid. Who knows?”