After getting in a good weekly rhythm for the first eight matches of the season, Sounders FC will have its first midweek match next week against FC Dallas. With three matches in nine days starting with Saturday's match against the Philadelphia Union, Seattle will be faced with a new kind of adversity in its schedule.
Although the team is on a three-match winning streak and is unbeaten in its last four, the busy week may have Head Coach Sigi Schmid shuffling the lineup a bit more to best enable the team to get through the difficult schedule.
"Right now we're on a good roll. We want to maximize the points that we can get and every game we want to put our best team out on the field," Schmid said. "Sometimes that best team means that we have to rest some guys because they are tired or they're injured, but as a whole, we try and put the best team on the field."
Thus far in the season, only Stefan Frei, Chad Marshall and DeAndre Yedlin have played all 90 minutes in each of Seattle's first eight matches, with Osvaldo Alonso and Obafemi Martins both starting every match and playing 710 minutes or more.
With Leo Gonzalez working his way back from a hamstring strain and Brad Evans now back from a calf contusion, Seattle will likely use a rotation of players in some roles. Already 16 different field players have started, so the team has confidence that it will have the players and the fitness to get through the rigorous portion of the schedule.
"This will be the first test. That midweek game is going to push the envelope. But we've got a number of guys who are licking their chops," Evans said. "If guys don't start who have been starting, they're going to be ready to go and that provides a good atmosphere at training. There are guys who can push those three and get 90 minutes every game, but when you look at our style of play, some attacking guys are going to need a breather here or there. I'm not sure how we are going to rotate, if we rotate, but if my number gets called, then I'm ready to go."
Although the task of three matches in quick succession can be daunting, Seattle is focused first on facing the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
"First we have to focus on Saturday. We have to play that game, then take it game-by-game," Alonso said. "We will try to keep our rhythm, maintain our fitness and be healthy for three games. The most important thing is to be focused on Saturday. After that, we'll focus on Wednesday."
Seattle has just two other instances of three regular season matches in one week, one in mid-August and the other in late-September. That list could grow if Sounders FC advances in the US Open Cup by as many as three weeks if Seattle can reach the tournament final.