TUKWILA — The Seattle Sounders wrapped up training Friday ahead of their mid-day matchup with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, and coach Brian Schmetzer appeared to be in high spirits after the session. Having gotten over the disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Sporting Kansas City, the matchup Saturday gives the Sounders a chance to put that loss firmly in the rearview mirror.
Helping Schmetzer’s mood were a couple of positive injury updates, as Will Bruin was a full participant in training and is expected to feature on Saturday while Nicolas Lodeiro was even able to take part as a neutral, spraying passes all over the field in some short-sided drills.
“You’re putting a smile on my face,” Schmetzer said when asked of Lodeiro’s status. “We’re actually doing physical testing with him to see if he can make the next jump. He’s worked hard, he’s been involved in some of the training. He’s looked good.”
Schmetzer did not rule out Lodeiro returning in some fashion for the League’s Cup match with Tigres on Aug. 10, but stopped short of setting any sort of expectation. Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey recently said that he thought Lodeiro could return as soon as “late summer.”
“I wouldn’t want to put target date out there yet,” he said when asked specifically about Aug. 10. “But he does look good. He does look very good.”
In addition to Bruin and Lodeiro’s participation, Stefan Frei has been able to work out with the goalkeepers. While Frei’s return is still a bit farther out, Schmetzer acknowledged that having his veterans around helps lift the group.
“It always lifts guys when you get guys back from injury,” Schmetzer said. “You get that little bump, that presence, that professionalism. It raises the level of training.”
With the worst of the crisis hopefully in the rearview mirror, Schmetzer took time to reflect on what he said was the highest concentration of injuries the Sounders have ever suffered. The rash of injuries has been such that the Sounders have had to rely on MLS hardship signings for each of the past last four games, and have yet to field a full 20-man gameday roster this season.
“The nature of the injuries, who the injuries are [to], the amount of injuries, it’s been by far [the worst] since 2009,” Schmetzer said.
That injury crisis is still not quite over. Abdoule Cissoko is the latest player to join the list after he was forced out of Sunday’s game with what Schmetzer called knee tendinitis. While Cissoko’s injury was due to overuse according to Schmetzer, and a relatively quick return is expected, the status of Nouhou is not quite as clear.
“That’s the toughest one for us to solve,” Schmetzer said, noting that his star centerback did not participate in training.
Even with reinforcements set to arrive, Schmetzer said he expects his team to learn from the highs and lows of the last week.
“It’s always about the next game, the next man up,” Schmetzer said “It has to be something that the players believe. Take these opportunities, learn from them and grow from them.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland, one of those who has made the most of his opportunity, said the team learned from last week’s results that things can turn negatively in a hurry, particularly if they don’t focus on the team in front of them.
“After doing so well for so much of the season and things going our way, it’s definitely a bit of a wake-up call, so that’s exactly how we have to look at it,” Cleveland said. “We just have play our game and not get lost in looking too far forward.”