Sounders FC had its depth tested throughout May and June while key pieces were away on international duty. Already without Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin at the World Cup, injuries meant that players further down the depth chart had opportunities to see the field.
In the last seven MLS matches dating back to May 17, a total of 17 different players have started for Schmid, while players like Djimi Traore, Dylan Remick, Andy Rose, Leo Gonzalez and Brad Evans have been limited due to injuries. Now as pieces start to trickle back into fitness, Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid's options are expanding at the perfect time as Sounders FC enters a busy chunk of the schedule over the next six weeks.
“That just helps us. It makes us a deeper team and when we go into these series of games, that will give us the ability to rotate a little more than we had in the past,” Schmid said.
On Wednesday, Traore and Remick played some 11v11 as Schmid put the reserves through some competitive training while the starters worked on finishing. That 11v11 also featured MLS veterans like Kenny Cooper, Cam Weaver and Tristan Bowen, helping players who have seen limited playing time stay fresh and in rhythm.
Rose participated in full with the first team while Gonzalez acted as a neutral, easing his way back into the team. In addition, Evans and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann have been making progress, and could be back in the mix soon, as well.
Over a 38-day stretch from July 28 to September 3, Seattle will play nine matches, including clashes with the LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers. In addition, Seattle will host the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against the Chicago Fire. Having players back healthy and available will allow Schmid to dip into that depth on occasion to give players a break in situations where the Sounders will play on short rest.
One benefit to the date change of Seattle’s next match with the LA Galaxy is that some of those players will have more time to recover and refresh ahead of Monday’s showdown at CenturyLink Field. It also meant some alterations to the training schedule which have enabled Schmid to put the starters through more specific drills.
“We have a little bit of time to prepare so we’re able to work on some things,” Schmid said. “Today we just wanted to get some finishing work in with the first-team group. We’ll do a little bit of work on transition Friday since we have an extra day of training that we wouldn’t normally have with the game on Monday.”
Monday’s match with the LA Galaxy kicks off at 7 pm PT with national television coverage on ESPN2.