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Josh Atencio will miss Timbers game

Sounders add another name to their list of injured starters.

Last Updated
2 min read

RENTON — Add one more name to the list of injured Seattle Sounders: Josh Atencio.

Although it’s not believed to be too serious and he’s expected to return relatively quickly, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said Atencio would at least miss the Portland Timbers match after “tweaking” something during Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match.

“It’s a little tweak, it’s not bad,” Schmetzer said. “It’s not horrible, but he’s not going to play against Portland.”

The good news is that the Sounders are reasonably deep at defensive midfielder and there’s a decent chance Atencio wasn’t going to start against the Timbers anyway. The most likely midfield pairing is João Paulo and Obed Vargas, but Cristian Roldan, Danny Leyva and Sota Kitahara were also among the players Schmetzer named as possible replacements.

“We’ve got talented midfielders,” Schmetzer said. “We have plenty of options.”

Other than Atencio, the Sounders came out of the Louisville City match in reasonably good shape. Among the players who didn't play all 120 minutes, Schmetzer said they were mostly pulled to either save their legs or because of cramping.

Chance to shine

Although Schmetzer admitted that he would have liked to have some more experience available off the bench in the Open Cup game, he was particularly pleased with the performances of the Tacoma Defiance players who did play.

Among the standouts were 17-year-old midfielder Snyder Brunell, centerback Tino Lopez and right back Kalani Kossa-Rienzi. In addition to turning in solid shifts, all three converted their spot kicks in the shootout.

“There’s guys who can contribute at that level,” Schmetzer said. “The conversation last night was how do we get guys like that into our training environment and have an impact.”

Another player Schmetzer singled out for praise was Stuart Hawkins, who is on a MLS contract, but is considered to be an “off-roster Homegrown Player” and who made his first-team debut in the Open Cup. Hawkins was probably given his biggest test yet, matching up against one of the USL Championship’s most explosive offenses.

“He proved he could play; there were a couple nervy moments but overall he did well,” Schmetzer said.

All together

Most of the Sounders’ regular starters may have gotten the evening off, but almost all of them chose to attend the Open Cup anyway. In a sign of just how much the team spirit remains high despite the tough season, the majority hung around until the end of the game to congratulate their teammates on advancement as well have some celebratory pizza.

“They loved it,” Schmetzer said of the first-teamers. “Winning is contagious. We’ve had lots of times when Open Cup runs have spurred regular-season performances. It was a tense exciting game and everyone was fired up afterwards.”