Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Friday’s season-opening win over Minnesota United wasn’t just the 4-0 scoreline but that the Seattle Sounders achieved it without their top offensive and defensive players from last year.
That Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t available should not have come as a huge shock, as he’s been nursing a quad strain for a couple weeks. Yeimar Goméz Andrade not being included in the starting lineup — while apparently healthy — was a bit more of a surprise.
Lodeiro is apparently making progress toward a return and could even potentially travel with the team for Saturday’s match at LAFC.
“Better training day today,” Schmetzer told KJR on Tuesday. “Probably a little premature for me to say he’s going to have a chance to play because we need him to get a couple training days in. If he can train in full on Friday, we’ll take him down with us. If he can’t train in full on Friday, I’ll probably wait until the Galaxy game (on May 2).”
The situation with Goméz Andrade is not quite so straightforward. Despite being the Sounders’ most consistent centerback, starting every game for which he was available and earning some mention as Defender of the Year last year did not start either of the Sounders preseason games and came off the bench against Minnesota. When asked about Gomez Andrade on Friday, Schmetzer seemed to bristle at the notion that he should have started.
“Coach’s decisions are coach’s decisions,” Schmetzer said. “What happens inside the locker room, the training room, the training ground, it’s always something I’m not going to talk about.
“People who get excited about the first game of the year and lineup choices are not that well educated. We’re going to need every single player to contribute at some point during the year. ... I respect the people who have a different opinion than me. I know get second-guessed.”
It should be noted that whatever his reasoning, the decision was vindicated. Nouhou was stellar in his first ever start at centerback, while Xavier Arreaga and Shane O’Neill were both solid in helping the Sounders secure their biggest-ever season-opening win and their first shutout in a season-opener since 2015.
When asked a similar question on KJR, though, Schmetzer seemed to take a softer position and provided a bit more of an explanation.
“It’s still early in the year and I’m trying out different looks,” he said. “Yeimar is going to play a bunch this year, we’re going to rotate some guys. It’s nothing guys need to worry about, get upset about, coach’s decision is it.”