In the offseason, the Sounders FC acquired Adam Johansson to play right back behind Mauro Rosales on the right side of midfield. The combination play between the two dynamic players was clearly evident in Seattle’s 3-1 season-opening victory over Toronto FC.
However, they haven’t played since, Rosales suffering a knee sprain and Johansson downed by a hamstring strain in that opening match.
On Saturday, the two players took a big step toward their return to the field in a training game against the University of Washington. The Sounders won 1-0 in the 60-minute game on a goal by Fredy Montero, but the story of the day was the return of Seattle’s starting right side.
Rosales played all 60 minutes in the match while Johansson played 30 minutes and finished his day with fitness work to get a full workout in.
“It was good, especially because we didn’t ease down yesterday’s practice all that much,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Between yesterday’s practice and today’s 60 minutes, it was pretty good at replicating what a game would be.”
The Sounders have survived their absence, going 2-1-1 in the four games since losing their whole starting right side. But they lacked the creativity on that right side, which they should get back when Rosales and Johansson return to the lineup. That could be as soon as next week when the Sounders face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Rosales is bouncing back from his third knee injury since joining the Sounders and took his time in his return this time around, benefitting from the week without an MLS match, which gave him the opportunity to play in a less vital contest against a college opponent before getting back on the field against an MLS opponent.
“We had to try it one time. In the training, you can control yourself and your teammates may come in a little easier on you,” Rosales said. “I’m trying to get back in all aspects – physical and mental.”
The match also got Johansson back into the swing of competition. He made his familiar overlapping runs to get into the attacking end in his 30-minute appearance.
“It’s important psychologically for him to feel comfortable and confident, so now we just step it up as we get into practice next Tuesday,” Schmid said.
The first month of the season has been particularly tough for Johansson. He joined the Sounders with high expectations in the off-season and said on Saturday that he was frustrated not to be able to play to those expectations because of the injury. He also said that he needed to take his time in his recovery to avoid reinjuring his hamstring.
“When you come to a new club you want to play every game, but I’m working hard every day to get better. Now it feels good,” Johansson said. “I’m building it up, so this was a great training for me. That’s how I see it.”
Rosales and Johansson will train with the Sounders on Sunday, then take Monday off before making the push on Tuesday for the match against the Fire next Saturday.