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Sounders recharged after four-day weekend

Obed Vargas says Sounders are still in “catchup mode” despite recently improved play.

Last Updated
3 min read

RENTON — Coming off a stretch of playing 10 matches in 33 days, the Seattle were back at training following a four-day weekend.

For many of the players, this was a chance to disconnect and get away from soccer.

Obed Vargas, for instance, said he used the extended break to spend time with friends and family, and that he made a point of not touching a soccer ball.

But now, the focus must immediately turn back to the season. Although the Sounders have somewhat steadied the ship by going 3-1-3 in their past seven league games, they’re still below the playoff line and not remotely where they want to be in the standings.

“We’re still in catchup mode,” Vargas said. “We’d like to be Top 3, until we’re there we’re in catchup mode. Even when we’re there, can we stay there? That’s why it’s mentally so draining because we always need to win. When we don’t, it’s frustrating and can take a toll. We got our heads out, but haven’t really pulled ourselves out completely. We’re still in that mindset of trying to get out and maintain it.”

On paper, the Sounders have a wonderful opportunity to push themselves a little farther up the table when they visit Sporting KC on Saturday. Sporting KC are currently last in the Western Conference standings and have a league-low two wins. They are currently on a seven-game losing streak and last won a match on March 31, 10 matches ago. That includes a record of 1-4-3 at home, which is the second worst record in the league.

It’s a similar scenario as the last time the Sounders played Sporting KC, who came into that game on May 7, 2023 at Lumen Field riding a 10-game winless streak to open their season. Sporting KC won that match 2-1, sparking a turnaround that carried them all the way to the Western Conference semifinals.

“On paper we should win; they look like an easy opponent because of how they’re going,” Vargas said. “But this is MLS, where anyone can beat anyone, it doesn’t matter what place they’re in. I feel like for them, they’ve got nothing to lose and can be super aggressive. We just need to be better than the last few games at closing out. We just need to maintain that rhythm. We need to learn and get better.”

Focused on Sounders

Vargas, as well as teammate Reed Baker-Whiting, were both apparently invited to the United States U19 camp which will feature friendlies against Argentina and Chile, and would have forced him to miss the Sporting KC match. Notably, Vargas was not invited to the Olympics training camp that is happening at the same time. He has previously said that he’s had limited contact with anyone at USSF ever since he was the youngest player to make the Olympic qualifying roster last year.

Vargas said the decision to decline the U19 invite was relatively straightforward.

“Right now, my focus is the Sounders,” he said. “My aim was the Olympic team but I think that door is kinda closed now. For me to go into a U19 or U20 camp, I don’t see the point of missing games with the Sounders where I’m playing a lot. I’m just focused on the team I’m on.”

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