As of Wednesday’s training session, it was unclear whether Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid would have his club’s captain, Brad Evans, available for Saturday’s match against the Montreal Impact. One thing that was clear, though, was that if Evans can’t play after suffering a calf injury in last week’s 2-1 loss to Toronto FC, Schmid is confident in the options he has to fill his role in the midfield.
In Gonzalo Pineda, Andy Rose and Micheal Azira, he also has three very different players available to him.
Pineda filled in for Evans during the match against Toronto, coming on in the 29th minute and bringing a calming influence to a Sounders team that had just fallen behind 2-0. The 31-year-old veteran of 11 seasons in Mexico’s Liga MX has a tremendous amount of experience along with a cultured left foot.
“He’s a very good possession player. That was the reason I came with him. We had possession of the ball and we had space to play,” Schmid said. “He gave us what we needed in terms of holding on to possession. But you lose the other things Brad brings you from the midfield which is somebody who becomes an additional man in the box on some of those crosses and gets forward and looks for balls that are dropping around the 18 to shoot. He’s a little bit goal-dangerous, so we’re looking for that as well.”
That is where Rose comes in to play.
Rose is in his third MLS season and has yet to appear for Sounders FC in 2014, but has 20 MLS starts to his credit, netting two goals and three assists.
“Andy is a little more like Evans that he will get into the box as well,” Schmid said, noting that Rose and Azira are still in position to start in the event that Evans is not available. “Very much so and the same with Micheal Azira. He’s still a guy who’s in the hunt as well.”
Sounders FC flies to Montreal on Thursday, where it will train ahead of Saturday’s match, which is scheduled for a 1 pm PT kickoff with television coverage on Q13 FOX.
SAN JOSE AND KANSAS CITY DROPPED FROM CCL
After the LA Galaxy fell to Tijuana on Tuesday, MLS still had two remaining hopes in the CONCACAF Champions League in the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City. After play on Wednesday, though, MLS’s continued struggles against Mexican foes in the CCL resurfaced as both clubs were eliminated in quarterfinal action.
San Jose entered the second leg level with Toluca after a 1-1 draw last week at Buck Shaw Stadium. After a scoreless first half, the Earthquakes darted out to an early second-half lead off of the first professional goal scored by UW product Ty Harden in the 56th minute. Toluca equalized on a tremendous strike by Isaac Brizuela in the 69th minute and the match went to extra time. No winner could be found in the 30-minute overtime, so they went to a shootout. There, goalkeeper Jon Busch stopped the first effort and got his hand to two other shots, but couldn’t keep them out of the net. Shea Salinas clanged the final shot off the crossbar and Toluca advanced with a 5-4 shootout win.
Kansas City wasn’t quite so competitive. Sporting went into the match with a 1-0 lead after the first leg at home last week, but that was erased in the second minute on a goal from Mariano Pavone. The Cruz Azul striker netted another in the 23rd minute but Benny Feilhaber evened the series up at 2-2 just before halftime and gave Kansas City the all-important road goal that would prove beneficial if the match ended in a draw. Those daydreams were squashed quickly in the start of the second half when Pavone completed his hat trick in the 55th minute. Mauro Formica and Christian Gimenez added to the lead with goals just four minutes apart and Kansas City couldn’t respond, falling 5-2 in the series.
Sounders FC remains the only MLS club to eliminate a Mexican club from the Champions League knockout stage since the current format was adopted in 2008 when it ousted Tigres last year in the quarterfinals.