The Seattle Sounders should have their full complement of ideal starters available for the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 matchup with Motagua on Thursday, Brian Schmetzer confirmed.
The two big absences from the starting lineup in the first leg were Nouhou and João Paulo, but both were training at “100 percent” this week, Schmetzer said. Nouhou was limited to duty off the bench after missing virtually all of training camp while he was with Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations. João Paulo joined camp in the final phase as he remained in Brazil to obtain his green card, and was sent back to Seattle early in an effort to gain fitness.
From the sound of it, Schmetzer won’t be holding anything back despite the Sounders having their MLS season opener on Sunday against Nashville SC.
“Our mantra has always been we want to win every tournament we enter, so there’s a lot riding on this as always,” Schmetzer said. “It’s not pleasant going out early in a big competition. We’re going to do what we always do — play good soccer, try to attack and hopefully proceed into the next round.”
Potentially working in the Sounders favor are the weather conditions. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 30s at gametime. That’s about 40 degrees cooler than evening temperatures in Tegucigalpa this time of year.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s an advantage,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It’s something that we have to take advantage of. If they’re on the brink of being uncomfortable, can we push them across and make them not want to play?
“We want to dictate the pace, make them uncomfortable and take control of this game.”