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Sounders practice notes: Live from Starfire

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Journalists are allowed back to Starfire for the first time since March 2020.

Sounders FC forward Raul Ruidiaz prepares for an interview after training Friday at Starfire
Miki Turner

TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders completed a spirited training session Friday at Starfire, before they head to Colorado on Saturday to take on the Rapids. While that may seem rather mundane, it did represent a rather significant change: the first live training session where local media was able to observe, report and ask questions — in person, no less.

For the last year, since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the world in the spring of 2020, the Sounders have been training behind closed doors in the interest of safety. So this represented the first time media were able to see the Sounders warm-up, run drills and scrimmage up close. Well, relatively close, there are still some protocols in place designed to minimize contact between the players and public.

Head coach Brian Schmetzer seemed happy to have reporters back on the scene peppering him with questions, even those he’d probably prefer not to answer.

“It’s been hard for all of you guys in the press,” Schmetzer said. “I love having everybody back. It’s good to be back safe.”

That aside, the training session itself was, well, like a training session in the middle of summer. The Sounders remain a bit shorthanded at the moment given their injury situation. There was some positive news to report on that front, as Nouhou was more involved in training and looks very close to a return. Schmetzer had as recently as Monday sounded a more pessimistic tone about the centerback’s immediate prospects.

“Today we had to take him out [because] he wanted to play more,” Schmetzer said. “I know he’s feeling better, but we just have to make sure we get him over the hump. He’s getting closer [and] if you watch him run, he’s looking good.”

Schmetzer indicated that the match this Sunday may be a bit too soon for Nouhou’s return, which is unfortunate given the Rapids’ solid start to the year, with the match at altitude and Colorado coming off a two-week break.

“They’re good, they’re a darkhorse,” Schmetzer said. “Whether they play five at the back [or] four at the back we’ll see. That’s a decent team.”

Schmetzer said that the Rapids could present some problems similar to what the Vancouver Whitecaps showed the Sounders, in that their wing players could potentially stretch the backline and expose their defenders in one-on-one situations. The Sounders conceded their first run-of-play goal in such a fashion when Cristian Dájome beat Abdoulaye Cissoko for pace.

“We talked about that,” Schmetzer said. “[Michael] Barrios is going to be a handful. They play with two forwards, not three but they can also play 4-4-2 and put Barrios out on the wing. We’ll have to watch for that.”

Notes

  • Stefan Frei returned to the training pitch this week, but Schmetzer reiterated that he is not close to returning, nor is there a timetable for his return at this point. “When he’s ready he will play, same with Nico [Lodeiro],” Schmetzer said.
  • Schmetzer said he hasn’t spoken with Victor Rodriguez, the Sounders’ 2019 MLS Cup MVP, who left the team to return to Spain following that game. A report earlier this week indicated the Sounders have had some internal discussions about bringing Rodriguez back. “Haven’t spoken to him. Great player,” Schmetzer said with a smile.
  • The Sounders’ training numbers were bolstered by a trio of University of Washington players, former Sounders Academy players Dylan Teves and Jacob Castro and Tacoma’s Kendall Burks.