Calling In The Reserves
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Depth has proven vital for Sigi Schmid's Sounders FC. Tonight, they will explore more of that depth in their first home reserve league match against Chivas USA.
Three matches in eight days was a trying task for the Sounders FC last week, who went 1-1-1 to earn four points from the three games.
They started the stretch of games knowing they wouldn’t have Steve Zakuani or O’Brian White available for medical reasons – Zakuani out with a broken leg and White undergoing surgery to treat a blood clot in his leg. As time progressed, they also learned that Mauro Rosales and Brad Evans would also be limited during the week.
In total, that meant Seattle would have eight goals and eight assists unavailable to them when they faced the Columbus Crew on Saturday in the final match of the three-game swing. The team, as a whole, had 11 goals and 13 assists before the 1-1 draw at Crew Stadium.
So Sigi Schmid relied heavily on the depth of the team just ten games into the schedule.
Already 19 different players have started games for the Sounders and 23 have seen game time, but because of preparation for important competitions like the US Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League, Schmid is more than willing to flex that bench muscle when needed.
On Saturday, that meant Roger Levesque got his first start of the season to solid reviews from Schmid.
“I thought Roger did well early in the game holding up the ball,” Schmid said. “We wanted to get some fresh legs out there and he provided that for us. We wanted to get some hold up play and he provided that as well.”
Levesque wasn’t the only one seeing more minutes on Saturday than he did two weeks earlier when the Sounders topped the Colorado Rapids 1-0, starting the match as healthy as they could hope to be. Servando Carrasco saw his second start of the season in midfield alongside Osvaldo Alonso. Nate Jaqua, Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito also saw minutes coming off the bench.
\For Neagle, it was his first playing time since coming off the bench in the first two matches of the season and he has been kept fresh by the Sounders reserve match against the San Jose Earthquakes and practice matches against college teams.
“It’s been frustrating and tough, but that’s how our team is. Our team is deep so it takes a while to get back and get some playing time. Luckily I’ve been doing well in practice games and reserve games,” said Neagle, who was also celebrating his 24th birthday on Saturday. “Once you get a few games, you get more confident in your own play and where you need to be on the field. That’s definitely what I’ve been doing.”
In total, ten different players have scored in reserve and practice games, giving them a proving ground to earn more time and a chance to stay sharp in between first team appearances.
Tonight will be another opportunity for those players when the Sounders FC faces Chivas USA in a reserve league match at Starfire. There is no charge for admission at Sounders FC Reserves home matches. However donations will be accepted at the gate ($5 suggested) with proceeds directed toward the Sounders FC community partners. Parking is $5 or free with a Starfire membership. Seattle will host another Reserve League match on May 15 against Portland. First kick is 1 p.m. PT. Sounders FC opened its Reserve League season on April 3, defeating San Jose, 1-0. Tonight’s match will have live blog coverage at SoundersFC.com.