After playing three games in 10 days to start the MLS Cup Playoffs, including two road games in four days, the Sounders finally got some rest before the second leg of their Western Conference Championship series against the LA Galaxy, with seven days between the two matches.
The break in action is coming at a good time for the Sounders as they look to stave off elimination after a 3-0 defeat to the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center in the home leg of the series on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
“When you have a game like we had on Sunday, you’d like to play sooner,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Guys are getting healthier. From that standpoint, it’s good. Having the week to allow players to recover is important.”
With each passing day, defender Leo Gonzalez and midfield playmaker Mauro Rosales inch closer to a return to the field. By Sunday, they may be available for the all-important match with the Galaxy.
Rosales left the match in the waning moments of the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals series with Real Salt Lake and has not yet been back in the 18-man gameday roster in the two playoff matches Seattle has played since, but has been making progress toward that return.
In his absence, Mario Martinez played in two matches and filled in nicely, scoring the only goal in Seattle’s 1-0 series victory over Real Salt Lake. He will return to the team when they train on Friday after missing training sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday to play with the Honduras National Team in a friendly against Peru in Houston, Texas.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, has been out since being removed from Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers on October 7. Nearing a return, Gonzalez has proven particularly valuable against the Galaxy in recent years.
“Leo’s a good 1-v-1 defender. He matches up well with the Magees and Donovans and those kinds of players,” Schmid said. “He’s a good player, so having him back would help.”
Gonzalez started and played 90 minutes in both matches at CenturyLink Field against the Galaxy this season and the Sounders won those matches 2-0 on May 2 and 4-0 on August 5.
Bringing him back to the lineup, even in a reserve role, could be valuable for the Sounders.
“He’s missed a little bit now, so game fitness is a little bit of an issue. But even having him available off the bench, would be something that could help us,” Schmid said. “He’s an experienced player. He wants to get out there. We just have to make sure how close he is.”
Kickoff for Sunday’s match is set for 6 p.m. PT with national television coverage on ESPN. Tickets are available at SoundersFC.com.