The Seattle Sounders are riding high following their Western Conference Semifinals triumph over FC Dallas. But as they gear up for their upcoming Western Conference Championship matchup with the Colorado Rapids, the Rave Green do have to contend with a pair of notable health concerns.
Rookie forward Jordan Morris, one of the stars of Seattle’s 3-0 first leg blowout of FCD at CenturyLink Field last weekend, exited Sunday’s contest at halftime and was replaced by second-year defender Oniel Fisher. After the match, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer confirmed that Morris’ early exit was not a tactical move, but actually due to a strained hamstring.
“That’s all I can say because we’ve got to get him evaluated,” Schmetzer said. “But he wasn’t able to continue and it was a last-minute decision upon examination at halftime by our trainers.
“We just felt that he couldn’t go. Jordan felt that he couldn’t go. So we had to scramble at the last minute to make a change.”
Schmetzer also said it’s unclear whether the knock will impact Morris’ status for the United States national team’s Hexagonal matches in their upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Morris was called into the USMNT by coach Jurgen Klinsmann for its match against Mexico at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 11 and its road fixture against Costa Rica in San Jose on Nov. 15.
“That’s out of my control,” Schmetzer said. “What is obviously the most important is the health of the player. These games for the national team are really super important as well, so they wouldn’t want to take a player who might be injured and risk giving him a game because the stakes are too high.
“It’s early. He’ll be evaluated by our staff, the U.S. staff and we’ll go from there.”
“Nelson had a calf cramp and he might not be 90 minutes fit,” Schmetzer said. “Friberg had a knock as well and he was limited. So those [substitutions] were more just for exhaustion and getting fresh bodies on the field.”
With their ticket to the Western Conference Championship officially punched, the Sounders do have a 16-day break before the first leg against Colorado at CenturyLink on Nov. 22. With an attack that has become especially reliant on the attacking fireworks of Morris and Valdez during the Audi 2016 MLS Cup playoffs, getting them healthy in that timeframe has become a top priority.