TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders finished what could be called a “casual” training session Friday. The original plan had been for them to hold a full training session, but that was deemed unnecessary on the heels of playing six games in 19 days and heading into another short-rest game against the Colorado Rapids at Lumen Field on Sunday.
It’s been a lot.
The end of a 7-game/23-day stretch beckons with the start of the international window, although the Sounders won’t get much of a break, as their match against the Vancouver Whitecaps had to be rescheduled for a week from Saturday. But they will get a full week in between games, at least.
“I don’t think you ever get used to it,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei told reporters of the congested scheduling. “It’s been a pretty tough stretch. Some difficult games, a lot of them on the road. A lot of them were mentally draining. The highs are what you want, but they’re draining regardless. Everyone’s feeling it.”
Schmetzer said the accumulation of games and fatigue led him to lighten the training load on Friday, keeping all of the outfield players who started the match Wednesday inside for regeneration exercises.
“As far a preparation for Colorado, most of it’s physical recovery,” Schmetzer said. “We’ve been going pretty hard, and so we had actually today planned to be out here on the field. But we said let’s just keep them in recovery, so I think that’s a smart move.”
That included Raúl Ruidíaz, who was substituted out of the game at halftime following an apparent muscle injury.
“Raúl will be listed as questionable for the game Sunday,” Schmetzer said. “He’s feeling a little better, but he’s got a little pain in there. The worst thing we could do is roll him out there if he’s not feeling right and then he gets a significant injury. But I’m confident with Will [Bruin], Fredy [Montero] and Leó Chú, we’ve got options.”
The prognosis was better for Cristian Roldan and Jimmy Medranda, who were both substituted out of the match Wednesday in apparent discomfort. Both are expected to be available on Sunday.
“Cristian had cramps, he’s fine,” Schmetzer said. “Jimmy was just because Brad [Smith] is listed as out, so I need to make sure that he is ready to go. Xavi [Arreaga] same, precautionary. All of the subs [were] just rotation.”
It was also confirmed on Saturday that Smith has Covid-19, although he’s vaccinated and apparently not showing symptoms. He was listed as out for Wednesday’s game under the league’s “health and safety protocol” and will likely miss at least two more games.
With two wins in their last to road matches, the Sounders have already matched the franchise record for road wins in a season (9). Frei said they want to end this stretch on a winning note, particularly because they haven’t been nearly as prolific at home.
“It’s important that we recognize that we had these really good results on the road,” Frei said. “We’ve had our missed opportunities at home. The messaging is strong that we’ve been able to bank points on the road, but we really have to deposit them by getting a ‘W’ at home.”
The Sounders took Schmetzer’s message of not wasting a good performance in Kansas City to heart, turning in arguably their most complete game of the year. Not surprisingly, Schmetzer said he is reiterating that message to the team this weekend, as a dangerous Rapids side comes to town. The teams previously met in Commerce City, with the Sounders holding on for a 1-1 result after giving up a lead.
“Robin Fraser’s done a tremendous job with that group,” Schmetzer said. “They believe they can win. They’re nipping at our heels, they’re nipping at Sporting KC’s heels. They’ve got good players. The team’s committed.”
The Sounders released a reminder about the updated Covid-19 mask and vaccination protocols, which includes a mandate for fans over 12 years old to show proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the match. In order to qualify as fully vaccinated, a fan must have received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) or the single dose of the one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson / Jansen) at least two weeks (14 days) prior to the match. For example, to be eligible to attend the Sunday’s home match, such vaccination must have been administered on or before Sept. 19.
Fans can upload their vaccination records via the Clear App, take a photo of their vaccination records or bring in the vaccination card itself. The Sounders are urging fans to arrive early to account for potentially long lines.