TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders will take on Mexico’s Club Necaxa on Saturday (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, ROOT Sports outside Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS), but don’t call it an exhibition.
“It’s not a friendly,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said matter-of-factly on Wednesday. “[Former Mexican international Gonzalo Pineda] is on our staff.”
Schmetzer said he and his assistants are approaching this match no differently than they would a regular-season Major League Soccer game. They’re watching film on Necaxa and devising a game plan to combat what they expect Los Rayos to throw at them.
Seattle will be without five of its mainstays, who are away on international duty, but the absences in the starting lineup and the consequence-free nature of the game will allow Schmetzer to deploy some of his younger and lesser-used players.
“It’s a great opportunity for Henry Wingo to get 90 minutes, Jordy Delem, an S2 guy that we signed, [Zach] Mathers, an S2 guy that we signed,” Schmetzer said. “Those guys are going to get a lot of playing time. It’s good for Will [Bruin] to get 90 minutes because he hasn’t played 90. Getting Harry [Shipp] a little more minutes on him because he had an ankle injury in preseason.”
Schmetzer knows that these international competitions are as much for the fans as they are for the technical staff, and he’s excited to put on a good show. He said he wants to play an entertaining game similar to the one Seattle displayed in a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend.
“As a soccer fan when I rewatched [the match against the Red Bulls], they were pretty good in the first half, we were pretty good in the first half,” Schmetzer said. “I thought it was a good game. I want to make it an entertaining match as well.”