TUKWILA — The Seattle Sounders resumed training Wednesday after a couple of needed days off. A full week of training allows them time to rest and recover. It also forces them to deal with the sour taste a 3-1 home defeat left in their mouths for longer than they might want. The quick succession of games last week meant there wasn’t much time to lament the first loss of the season in Minnesota, nor celebrate the heroics of an unlikely win in Austin. With a full training week, head coach Brian Schmetzer called the last couple of days a “reset” of sorts after an uncharacteristically poor showing at home on Sunday against Sporting Kansas City.
“We had talked internally about this being a trap game. You go into this game against an opponent that is right behind you in the standings,” Schmetzer said in his post-game press conference. “I thought we were lacking that little bit of inspiration, that we are at home, that we are going to come out on the front foot. We are going to do what we do. We just didn’t have that.
“Plus, there was some performances that weren’t up to their standards by senior players, by some younger players. This wasn’t up to the standard.”
With two days to reflect, Schmetzer said he firmly reminded the team of the standard he expects, and that the performance Sunday wasn’t good enough.
“We got after them a little bit this morning, just made sure they understood we don’t like losing,” Schmetzer said. “I asked them in the locker room after the game to do a little bit of reflection on their performance as an individual and as a group.”
Schmetzer said it was important that the team not let the poor performances pile up on top of each other as the season stretches through the dog days of summer into the business end of the year. While the Sounders are still at the top of the Western Conference and second in the Supporters’ Shield standings, a couple of poor results could see their position in both races fall.
“You can have a blip on the radar. You can say this is a one-off and walk away,” Schmetzer said. “Or you can say ‘we didn’t like this. I wasn’t playing at the level I want to play at.’ You can do a deeper reflection. And that’s the reset button I want them to hit.”
Schmetzer said he doesn’t think anything approaching an overhaul is necessary, and given the Sounders’ current standing it would be unusual to change much. But he also said the loss can serve as a useful lesson in self-reflection and accountability for his players.
“It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, but it’s holding themselves accountable first, and holding their teammates accountable,” Schmetzer said. “That to me is a good exercise that all of us have to do. You always have to reflect on the job you do, even if you’re a sportswriter.”
- Alex Roldan, fresh off his successful first run as a full international for El Salvador, was back in full training Wednesday.
- Schmetzer provided a slightly optimistic note about the injury situation of several Sounders, noting that Shane O’Neill made it back on the field against Sporting Kansas City, and that Will Bruin is close to a return. “The beauty that we have is Nico looked very good today,” Schmetzer said. “Will Bruin wasn’t out here because he worked hard the previous two days. Shane has come back, Nouhou is back on the field again. There are some signs that it might not be fall before we get some of these guys back.”
- The exception to that is goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who Schmtezer noted is on a “strict protocol” due to the nature of the injury, and his ongoing treatment involving blood thinners. But Frei was out at training, working with goalkeeping coach Tommy Dutra. “He looks good,” Schmetzer said.