TUKWILA, Wash. — The injury situation surrounding the Seattle Sounders continues to have more questions than answers.
At the top of the list is the availability of Cristian Roldan and Nouhou, who have now missed multiple games with difficult-to-assess ailments. While neither has been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against Sporting KC, Roldan appears to be a bit farther away.
Roldan has been out since he was diagnosed with a concussion ahead of the April 15 match against the Portland Timbers. He has periodically been able to do limited training in the time since, but has not been fully cleared, continues to report symptoms and was seeing a specialist on Tuesday.
“That’s concerning,” Schmetzer said. “When I say ‘concerning,’ it’s not concerning as far as career-ending or anything like that, just that the symptoms lingered on. His health is paramount. We’re taking that one real slow. Just making sure when he comes back there’s not a second concussion. We want to make sure we’re awfully careful.”
Schmetzer seemed considerably more optimistic about Nouhou and even said he was holding out some hope his left back would be able to start this weekend.
Nouhou has been told to stay home and rest after coming down with some sort of undisclosed ailment that first kept him out of the April 23 match against Minnesota United.
“It’s tricky,” Schmetzer said about Nouhou. “We’re giving him enough bed rest so that when he comes back, it will be 100%. The in-out, in-out isn’t good. Whatever is going on with him — we’ve ruled out all the major stuff — that when he comes back, he’ll be ready to go.”
If Nouhou doesn’t recover in time, Schmetzer mentioned a few different possible replacements. One would be moving Alex Roldan over from right back and then slotting Reed Baker-Whiting or Ethan Dobbelaere into his spot. Baker-Whiting, who’s apparently quite two-footed, could also get a look at left back. Another option would be signing Tacoma Defiance fullback Cody Baker, who did an admirable job playing left back against San Diego Loyal in the U.S. Open Cup match.
What the Sounders don’t want to do is overcomplicate anything.
“We don’t want to change tactics just for one person,” Schmetzer said. “Our style of play has been effective.”
Rowe likely out 6-8 weeks
When Kelyn Rowe went down with an injury late in Saturday’s match, the initial concern was that he’d torn his ACL. That would have required surgery and likely kept him out for the rest of 2023. But tests revealed that the injury was less severe than feared.
“It’s still a significant injury,” Schmetzer said. “The initial estimates are 6-8 weeks. He’ll tell you he’s going to be ready in four or three, but that’s Kelyn.”
Facing a ‘desperate’ opponent
Whatever concerns the Sounders have, they pale in comparison to the situation surrounding Sporting KC, who have started the season 0-7-3 and are one game away from tying the MLS record for longest winless streak to start a season.
“They’re going to be desperate for sure,” Schmetzer said.
Albert Rusnák was even more pointed in his efforts to make sure his teammates don’t overlook Sporting KC, a team that should be close to full strength and has played some of their tougher opponents reasonably well.
“It’s dangerous to play a team like that,” Rusnák said. “It’s very dangerous because everyone expects an easy win. You have to prepare like you’re playing a team that’s on fire. Sometimes it’s easier to motivate yourselves when you’re in a top-of-the-table clash or playing a rival. Personally, I don’t think this will be an easy game. I think it will be tough. They have nothing to lose. When you’ve not won for so long you can just play freely.”