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Sounders GM: ‘This team is set to do something special down the stretch’

Despite recent struggles, Sounders express confidence for stretch run.

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2 min read

The only move the Seattle Sounders have made this summer technically came outside the transfer window, when they signed Paul Rothrock to a first-team contract on Tuesday. Although the window is closed, Rothrock’s signing is allowed since he moves from within the organization. Rothrock and Cody Baker are so far the only signings the Sounders have made since the start of the season.

Sounders GM Craig Waibel said he explored quite a few potential moves during the transfer window and only decided to add Rothrock after the Colorado Rapids expressed interest in extending Danny Leyva’s loan through the end of the season.

“We were looking for players who could come in and start and that’s the only way we were going to make a significant change,” Waibel said, echoing previous statements. “We had a lot of conversations, we had more conversations than people know about. It was, unfortunately, an exhausting window even though it doesn’t look like it from the outside. But none of them came to fruition. Attracting players isn’t hard when you’re the Sounders, but making those deals work wasn’t easy with the position we were in.”

Despite their recent struggles, Waibel insisted he’s confident in this group and that it has at least one more push.

“This team has been together a long time,” Waibel said. “We very specifically kept this team together that won Champions League. This team is set to do something special down the stretch.”

He also insisted that as disappointing as the early Leagues Cup exit was, the knock-on effect could be positive.

“It will be interesting to see which teams benefit from time off and which ones don’t,” he said. “We have a veteran core. Winning games is good, but I think the break rejuvenated their focus. It got the time, energy, time with family and time to evaluate where they are. Veteran groups like ours tend to pull together when the calling comes. 

“I’m going to see what these last 10 games are, because there are some players who we pay to win us games and we’ll find out if those players deliver in the last 10 games.”

For all the positive talk about being rejuvenated and capable, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was still realistic about what lies ahead.

"We’ll see on Sunday," he said. "That’s the true test. Right now they’re feeling good. It was a competitive day and they worked hard."

Cristian Roldan could feature this week

Cristian Roldan is on track to make an appearance when the Sounders return to league play Atlanta United on Sunday. The midfielder was a full participant in Wednesday’s training session and only needs to get the final go-ahead from team physicians in order to be fully cleared from concussion protocol.

“We’re still going to be ultra cautious,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “There’s still some other boxes to check off. The only snag would be if one of the four doctors he’s seeing pump the brakes a little bit.”

If Roldan had it his way, though, there’s no doubt what he’d do. The Sounders, too, are fully aware that when Roldan plays at least a half they are 5-1-3 and have outscored opponents 19-7. When Roldan doesn’t play at least a half, the Sounders are 5-7-5 and have been outscored 16-10.

“He’s ready to go, we’re all anxious to get him out there,” Schmetzer said. “But safety is the most important thing. The long-term health of Cristian is the most important thing.”