All season, Sounders FC has needed to shuffle the lineup from week-to-week to account for injuries, suspensions and international appearances. So it’s only fitting that Head Coach Sigi Schmid will be forced to make at least one change to the lineup when Seattle faces the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
After goalkeeper Michael Gspurning’s late red card, Marcus Hahnemann will start in net for Seattle, but Schmid may need to make more changes based on the team’s injury situation.
Defender DeAndre Yedlin left Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in the Knockout Round with an ankle injury and his availability will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. Yedlin started 30 of Seattle’s 34 regular season matches at right back, but Schmid still has other options available.
“Brad Evans can play there. Zach Scott came in and played the last few minutes there. He can play there as well. Different people can play there,” Schmid said. “Adam Moffat can play there, too.”
Like Yedlin, forward Obafemi Martins will be evaluated up until Saturday while he recovers from a groin injury that has had him out for four of the final five matches of the regular season and the match against Colorado.
On the other side of the coin, midfielder Shalrie Joseph has made great progress in his recovery and was included on the bench for Seattle on Wednesday.
“He’s a funny one when it comes to recovery. He takes baby steps, then he takes huge leaps,” Schmid said. “We felt with his experience he could be a good alternative at the end of the game, depending on what we needed. He’s been able to get through training and do well, so that’s important.”
Joseph last played in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on August 25, when he suffered a knee injury. He made 10 regular season appearances for Seattle this season.
Eddie Gaven calls it a career
On Thursday, Columbus Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven announced his retirement after 11 seasons in Major League Soccer.
Schmid coached Gaven for three seasons with the Crew from 2006-2008 and also had Gaven on the U.S. U-20 National Team and was surprised to hear that the 27-year-old was stepping away from the game.
“Eddie was a fantastic player for me when I was with the Crew. He’s a guy who gave you everything he had every time he stepped on the field. He probably played through injuries as well as any player that I’ve known. People probably didn’t know the little aches and pains that he carried into games,” Schmid said. “He had a very good feel for the game. At the Under-20s and with the Crew, he was an important member of both of my teams.”
Gaven played 11 seasons in MLS, turning pro at age 16 in 2003 with the MetroStars. Schmid acquired Gaven in a trade in 2006 and he was a stalwart in Columbus ever since, until an ACL tear ended his season this year after 10 matches in May. In 278 career matches, he had 51 goals and 37 assists and was an MLS Best XI selection in 2004 and won the MLS Cup in 2008.
“I’m sad to hear that he’s going to step away from the game because I think he still has a lot to give to the game. At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision and everybody should respect that decision of his,” Schmid said.
Sounders to open Levi’s Stadium
Sounders FC has struggled against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. With just a 1-4-1 record wins have been elusive for Seattle at the Santa Clara University stadium.
Next year, it will have some reprieve, though, playing its only road match against San Jose at Levi’s Stadium on August 2, 2014, the Earthquakes and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority announced on Thursday.
The match will be the first event at the new 68,500-seat home for the San Francisco 49ers.