TUKWILA, Wash. – Nouhou and Obed Vargas returned to Seattle Sounders training on Thursday, just in time for their road trip to face St. Louis City in the regular-season finale.
Vargas had been with the United States U23 team, which played two friendlies against Mexico and Japan in Phoenix. Vargas came off the bench and scored what turned out to be the winning goal against Mexico, then played the first half in a 4-1 win over Japan.
Nouhou had a very different experience. After playing all 90 minutes and performing well in a friendly against Russia, he was a surprise omission from Cameroon’s friendly against Senegal four days later. It turns out, Nouhou did not have the proper visa and was denied entry to France, where the second friendly was being played. The Cameroon coach chalked it up to an administrative error.
While obviously not an ideal situation, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer put a positive spin on the situation. Schmetzer pointed out that time off for internationals like Nouhou can be hard to come by during the season and that getting away from soccer for a couple of days – even if it was unplanned – can have some benefits.
“Having some downtime is not the worst thing in the world for him,” Schmetzer said, while noting that it's unlikely Nouhou will start against St. Louis City. “He’s mentally fresh. Sometimes it’s good to get away.”
A good problem to have
For just the second or third time this year, the Sounders held a training session with every player available. No one in concussion protocol, no one limited due to lingering injuries, everyone back from international duty.
"Coaches are having problems getting everyone involved," Schmetzer said. "It’s great, I love it."
Goalkeepers are players, too
St. Louis City's Roman Bürki appears to be the clear favorite for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. But Stefan Frei believes his Swiss compatriot should be in contention for MVP, as well.
"Goalkeepers get pushed into the 'Goalkeeper of the Year' bracket and then they’re forgotten as players and don’t get a chance to enter that conversation for MVP," Frei said. "But if you look at what he’s done, he’s the biggest reason [St. Louis] been able to do it.
"We’re part of the XI, we put in just as much work as anyone else — maybe harder — I think he should be considered for sure."