Coming off short rest and already missing a few key players due to injury, the Seattle Sounders will be a bit more short-handed than they expected when they play at Austin FC on Sunday. The latest addition to the injury report is Stefan Frei, who picked up a quad injury while making seven saves in the 1-1 tie with Club León on Thursday. In his place, Stefan Cleveland will get his first start of 2022, head coach Brian Schmetzer told the media on Saturday.
Despite being without Nicolas Lodeiro (health and safety protocols), Raúl Ruidiaz (hamstring), Yeimar (ankle), Schmetzer insisted the team’s expectations won’t change.
“We might see a few wrinkles in how we line up,” Schmetzer said. “But it’s the same message. We’re not coming to Austin to play a bunch of teenagers because it gets press, we’re coming here to win.”
Cleveland was solid as Frei’s primary backup last season, posting a goals-against average of 1.13 and going 6-4-5 in 15 starts. Tacoma Defiance goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley was signed a short-term contract to give the Sounders a backup.
There was one bit of good news from Schmetzer: Josh Atencio will be available to make his 2022 debut. Atencio has battled various injuries since the start of preseason, but was a full participant in Tuesday’s training session. Schmetzer also said Frei, Lodeiro, Ruidíaz and Jimmy Medranda should all be available by the time the Sounders return from the international break on April 2 against Minnesota United.