For the Seattle Sounders, closing out a two-game road trip with a win over Austin FC was crucial as the team nears the end of the regular season. But to do it while utilizing the whole squad makes the victory that much more valuable heading into the Rave Green’s upcoming match against the Portland Timbers (7:30 p.m. PT; Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS).
“You need to have depth, you need to be able to give guys a break,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei. “So, it's testament to the group that we've all worked hard, we’ve trained hard, and the guys that were asked to step up [on Wednesday] did.”
With the Sounders having to take on a three-game week, it was necessary to rotate the players more frequently than usual. Just two days after the Rave Green took away a draw against Minnesota United, the team had to quickly regroup for Wednesday’s match against Austin, while also taking into consideration the following match on Saturday.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer emphasized how Wednesday’s win over Austin had a lot to with the preparation and plans laid out by his assistant coaches.
“What we've done over the last month, is we've made sure that the entire team understands the system and the principles of play,” said Schmetzer. “Normally, coaches would just work with the team that is starting, but we've actually made sure that the second team or the players that aren’t going to play are as involved in the exact same tactical exercises during training as the team that starts.”
Players like Josh Atencio, Ethan Dobbeleare, Xavier Arreaga and Reed Baker-Whiting were among the few players who honed in on the tactics from practice, took advantage of their opportunity to start and made an impact in the team’s 2-1 victory.
“I think we saw [the tactics] manifest itself in Reed, Ethan and Josh…Xavi also looked like he didn't miss a beat,” said Schmetzer. “They did their jobs tonight and did very well.”
Whether it be through the players who consistently make the starting eleven, or those who rotated in to give others a break, it was clear Wednesday’s victory came from an overall team effort.
“To finally be able to reward ourselves, it feels really, really good for the confidence and feels good for the unit of the team,” said Frei.
Cohesiveness is necessary when it comes to securing results from tough matches like the one against Austin, and the team will need to continue that unified approach come Saturday when they face the Timbers for the third and final time this season.
“There were many great performances [on Wednesday] and more individual performances lead to a great team performance, and that's what we need,” said midfielder Albert Rusnák. “Now it's time to start winning games at Lumen Field, at home, and there's no better game, to be honest, than the one that's coming Saturday.”
Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers
The Seattle Sounders are back at Lumen Field this weekend for a rivalry match against the Portland Timbers on Sunday!