Sounders to make the most of their final bye
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
The club won't have another off weekend for the remainder of the season and will look to use this one effectively.
Around the league on Saturday, 16 teams will play their final matches of the month of June. Sounders FC is one of the three teams that won’t, though, as they take their final bye week of the season to get players back from injuries and international duty.
The same club that trounced FC Dallas and San Jose in successive weeks by a total score of 8-2 also dropped disappointing road results to the LA Galaxy (4-0) on May 26 and Real Salt Lake (2-0) on June 22. Getting a more consistent stream of games, they contend, could do wonders for combatting that issue.
“We’re just trying to form that chemistry. It’s good to have that timing right,” Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson said. “It’s rhythm. It’s playing game-after-game. Once we get our rhythm, we all know what we can do.”
Johnson is back with the team after the coaching staff gave him an extended break after playing for nearly a month with the U.S. National Team. He already looked solid in an intrasquad scrimmage on Friday morning, scoring in the opening minute of the training game.
Brad Evans was also back in the lineup for the Sounders after time off, slotting back into the midfield. He admitted after training that there is an adjustment period when coming back from the national team, particularly when his role as a right back with the U.S. is so different than his midfield position with his club, also noting that the cohesion will come with time.
“It’s all mental. Getting back integrated with guys is a little bit different and maybe it comes with time,” he said. “We’re still finding our best form. Once we get that consistency, hopefully we hit it at the right time leading into playoffs.”
In addition to Evans and Johnson, head coach Sigi Schmid was also back in training Friday after having partial knee replacement surgery on Tuesday. Walking on crutches, Schmid oversaw training from the bench and will not miss any matches. Though the timing was a bit serendipitous, as Schmid was planning to wait until after the season to undergo surgery, but his knee got worse throughout the first part of the season and he took advantage of the bye week to have the operation done this week.
“Surgery went well and recovery has gone well so far,” he assured after training.
Schmid also noted that defender DeAndre Yedlin is slated to return from his time with the U.S. U-20 National Team on Friday night. Yeldin played 234 minutes in the FIFA U-20 World Cup as the U.S. bowed out after the Group Stage, going 0-2-1. He left the final match on Thursday against Ghana with a shoulder injury, but Schmid indicated that he expects him to be available for selection when the Sounders host D.C. United on Wednesday.
Lamar Neagle and Osvaldo Alonso are also nearing availability for full training as they both recover from injuries. With games coming as consistently as they will be, though, Seattle is mindful of bringing players back from injuries before they are fully recovered. The duo may take the extra few days off to be ready the July 6 match against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
For now, though, they will take things one weekend at a time.
“We need that right now. We need guys to get rest and to get 100-percent,” Evans said. “We’ve got a set rhythm now. We know what our schedule is going to be the rest of the year, so there are no excuses.”