TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders will be as close to full strength as they’ve been in at least a month when they take the field against Minnesota United on Saturday. That doesn’t necessarily mean Brian Schmetzer will be able to field his first-choice starting XI, however.
Presumed starters Xavier Arreaga, Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris and Nouhou will have, at most, one day of training with the team after rejoining the group from international duty. Of those four, Arreaga and Roldan are the most likely to be able to jump into the starting lineup as neither played while they were away with Ecuador and the United States, respectively.
It’s also unclear how Schmetzer will go about re-integrating the likes of Raúl Ruidíaz, Nicolas Lodeiro and Jimmy Medranda back into the team. All three have been full training participants this week and traveled, but might not be quite ready to start two games in quick succession. The Sounders might want to opt to save their legs for Wednesday’s Concacaf Champions League semifinal match against New York City FC.
One player who definitely won’t be available for either of those games is Yeimar. The centerback hasn’t played since coming out of the March 12 game against the LA Galaxy. Initially, Schmetzer called the decision “precautionary” but the team has since learned that it was a “high-ankle sprain.”
“Those high ankle sprains are tricky,” Schmetzer said at Thursday’s training. “What I’ll tell you is with muscular injuries, there’s a whole program. But as soon as they can he can put a bunch of tape on it and run around and be effective, that’s the measure for those ankle sprains.
“If he can strap himself up and play, he’ll be back as soon as the pain allows.”
Vargas scores for U20s
Another player who just rejoined the team and might be able to slide right back into the starting group is Obed Vargas, who had been with the United States U20s in Argentina. Vargas, who was the youngest player in camp, played 90 minutes in a match against Argentina’s U20 team and came off the bench to play 30 minutes in a 5-3 win against River Plate in which the USA erased a 3-0 deficit. Vargas even scored a goal in that game, apparently redirecting a ball off a corner.
“There was controversy on the goal, but he says he got to it last,” Schmetzer said half-jokingly.
Stumping for his guys
Although Morris didn’t start in any of the recent World Cup qualifiers, he did at least play all three matches. Roldan, on the other hand, made the gameday roster but never saw the field. That seemingly leaves his spot on the final World Cup roster a bit more in question.
Schmetzer made it very clear he hopes that both players make the squad, but made it clear he has limited capacity to actually affect Gregg Berhalter’s decision.
“I have no control,” he said. “We’re going to do what we do. We have a good process, a great team, we’re going to try to win against Minnesota, try to advance in Champions League, we’ll let our play dictate what you guys think about our team, what Gregg thinks about our team and players, we’ll do our talking on the field.”