Entering the 2012 MLS season, Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid had plenty to be excited about with the offense of the Sounders FC.
Coming off of a season that saw them score 56 goals to lead the league, they added veteran goal-scorer Eddie Johnson to the mix and were looking like a team capable of smashing that total.
Through ten games, injuries have robbed the Sounders of that vision.
Johnson missed the first three matches with a hip injury. Rosales missed four matches with a knee sprain. And Fernandez was out five matches with a quad strain.
For 17 minutes last Saturday, Schmid got his first look at what would be his top attacking foursome of Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales on the wings with Johnson and Fredy Montero at forward.
This weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps, he will have those stars available for the first time this season.
“You like to get excited about things on paper, but until you get it out there on the field and see how it works together … the question at the end of the day is if the mix is going to be the right mix,” Schmid said.
For their part, the players involved are excited to see what the combinations can elicit more scoring success than their 13 goals through the first ten matches.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how we can do the job together. Each one of us has very different characteristics, but we are hoping that we can exploit the best of each person’s abilities on the attack,” said Fernandez, who scored nine goals last season.
Fernandez’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Sounders, as they embark on a stretch where eight of their next 11 matches will be on the road, starting Saturday in Vancouver.
While the Sounders attackers hope to hit the ground running, they are also cognizant of the fact that it may still take time for them to reach their full potential.
“It’s going to be the first one we are going to play together. We know we need time,” Montero said. “We need more games to get the best of everyone. Hopefully we can do well and if we can win, it’s going to be good for us.”
The Sounders will be up against a Whitecaps team that is much improved over last season. In 2011, they finished just 6-18-10 for the worst record in MLS. Already through ten games in 2012, they are 5-3-2 and fourth in the highly-competitive Western Conference.
That adds bite to the first match of the Cascadia derby, kicking off the first of six matches for Seattle in the battle for the Cascadia Cup at 2 pm at BC Place in Vancouver.