TUKWILA, Wash. — Weather conditions don’t get much better than they were on Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and spirits seemed to be as high as you’d expect with the Seattle Sounders coming off a dominant display against Club León in Concacaf Champions League play a couple of days earlier.
The players engaged in a few full-sided drills before closing out with some smaller-sided ones that included some surprise additions.
Although injured stars Nicolás Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz were still absent and won’t be available against the Galaxy, Will Bruin was a full participant and Alex Roldán was even able to get in on the short-sided action. Sounders Academy player Juan Alvarez also participated.
What’s up with Alex?
There were some definite concerns about Roldán’s health after he was pulled at halftime of Tuesday’s match with what was originally dubbed a foot injury. After having it examined, though, doctors have determined that it’s “only” a bone chip and his return to action will be more dependent on his pain tolerance than having to wait for it to heal.
“He was having problems pushing off on his toe and we didn’t know what it was so I didn’t want to risk him in case it was something more,” Schmetzer explained about the decision to pull Roldan from Tuesday’s game. “He can play as soon as he can tolerate the pain. There’s nothing medical like a real broken toe that will prevent him from playing.”
If Roldán can’t start, the role will likely fall to Kelyn Rowe who filled in ably against León.
The news was even more optimistic for Bruin, who has yet to play this year after suffering a couple different setbacks over the past month or so. Schmetzer declared that Bruin would at least be available off the bench against the Galaxy.
Bruin also missed the last few games of 2021, but helped the Sounders go 12-6-6 in matches he played while scoring three goals and adding four assists in about 1,300 minutes.
Nico and Raul won’t be available
Although Schmetzer didn’t elaborate on their availability — essentially allowing their non-participation in training to speak for itself — Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey did address the ongoing injury situations of Lodeiro and Ruidíaz.
“They’re injured and they’re working their way back,” Lagerwey said during his appearance on Sounders Weekly. “We’re trying to be safe and sensible and taking the long-term view. We have to build them up in a sustainable way and not get into this cycle where we play them and they get hurt, play them and they get hurt. We will continue to be cautious with them, we’ll continue to ramp them up slowly.”
Not worried about Rusnák
It has been a somewhat slow start for Albert Rusnák, who signed with a good deal of fanfare during the offseason. The Designated Player has just one assist and no goals in five appearances across all competitions for the Sounders, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been a disappointment.
“Scoring is the easiest thing to see,” Schmetzer said. “Some of the nuances, what Albert does well, those are actually pretty clear to us. It’s hard to get him off the ball. The sequence on the second goal started with Albert; a lot of guys couldn’t dribble out of that. He was able to extend our possessions with a clever touch or a little dribble. There’s a lot of things we like about Albert and he’ll just keep getting better.”
Shifting the narrative
During Tuesday’s postgame press conference, Schmetzer made it clear he’s a little annoyed about the narrative that the way the Sounders ended last season has carried over into this one. Whether or not it really matters, it is true that the Sounders have now gone nine MLS games straight without a win, tied for the longest winless run in team history.
Regardless, Schmetzer is focused on maintaining the momentum they now have.
“Whether I like or dislike some of the narratives out there, it’s irrelevant to us,” he said on Thursday. “We had a good performance against Motagua, we had a good performance against León. ... Our narrative internally is we’ve set a pretty high bar for ourselves the last game. How do we stay at that level? That’s the narrative we’re talking about.”