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‘It’s an issue’, Brian Schmetzer says about thin bench

Gold Cup call-ups and injuries are going to be compounded during a busy July.

Josh Atencio is returning to health just in time.
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

TUKWILA, Wash. — Sunday’s match will mark the first of six the Seattle Sounders will play in the month of July, and that may actually under-state how congested the schedule is going to be. Of those six matches, three will be played on short rest, as there’s an 11-day break for the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup near the beginning.

Injuries have already kept the Sounders from fielding a full 20-player roster for any match this year and that will be compounded by the absences of Alex and Cristian Roldan for at least part of the month due to international duty. The roster is about to be stretched to its limit.

“It’s an issue, ask Garth about that,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, at Friday’s training session. “It’s going to come up. You have two days of rest until Houston, then you have a little bit of a break and a horrible week. It’s going to affect us.”

Schmetzer noted that he was able to negotiate for Alex Roldan to remain with the Sounders through the July 7 match against the Houston Dynamo, but will lose Cristian to the USMNT after Sunday’s match. Both players will be gone at least through July 18, but could be out until the Aug. 15 match against the Portland Timbers depending on how far their teams advance.

Even if Xavier Arreaga’s Ecuador are eliminated from Copa America and he returns to the Sounders for their last four matches of July and they don’t pick up any other injuries, it will still be impossible for them to field a full 20-man roster without using three goalkeepers.

Not only will the bench be thin, but Schmetzer will also likely have to juggle his lineup considerably. Kelyn Rowe is likely to move to right back/wing back; we could finally see a game with all of Raúl Ruidíaz, Will Bruin and Fredy Montero on the pitch together; and we might even see some entirely new faces.

The transfer window opens on July 7, and Schmetzer expressed some confidence that reinforcements are on the way.

“We’re going to sign some players,” he said.

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