The boys are back in town.
The Seattle Sounders enjoyed their full complement of international players in training on Thursday. With everyone back in the mix and a match against FC Dallas in Round One of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs looming on Saturday, there was plenty of excitement in the air at Starfire Sports.
“The group’s in good spirits,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Everybody is back, so that was a positive this morning.”
Two key contributors, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, re-entered the fold after completing a stint with the United States Men’s National Team in Concacaf Nation’s League. Now that they’re back in Seattle, they’re eager to shift their focus to progressing in the postseason with the Sounders.
“This is where it really starts to get fun,” said Morris. “The games mean more now, the weather is changing, and it all adds up to a good environment. For us, having this game at home is a big help for us and a big opportunity. We’re just excited to get going.”
Roldan, who helped boss the midfield as Seattle reached consecutive MLS Cups in 2016 and 2017, echoed that sentiment, noting that playing at CenturyLink Field will give Seattle the upper hand.
“We’re at home,” he said. “We have the advantage of playing in front of our home crowd. Now it’s about taking it to Dallas and enjoying the 90 minutes of intensity that’s going to be brought out on Saturday.”
Facing an FC Dallas side comprised largely of young academy alums, the Sounders certainly have the advantage when it comes to experience in high-intensity, winner-takes-all matches.
Morris, who bagged a goal and three assists in just 45 minutes of action for the USMNT against Cuba, is excited to square off against his international teammate, FCD right back Reggie Cannon.
“He’s a great player,” added Morris. “Really enjoyed getting to know him, and on the field, he’s done really, really well. It’s funny, we were working on the right side together against Cuba and now we’ll be going against each other.”
Morris and Roldan weren’t the only international players at training on Thursday. With the likes of Román Torres, Xavier Arreaga, Gustav Svensson, Brad Smith, Joevin Jones and Jordy Delem all back in training, the Sounders are preparing for what could prove to be a tricky matchup against Dallas.
Last time the Texas side visited the Emerald City, they sat deep and bunkered, looking to steal a goal in transition. But for the majority of the 2019 season, they employed an expansive, possession-heavy brand of soccer.
Unsure which FC Dallas they’ll see on Saturday, Schmetzer and his staff have been preparing the squad for every eventuality.
“There’s still some nuances there,” noted Schmetzer. “But what we’ve done is watch enough film to give our guys, hopefully, enough tools in their toolbox to solve whatever they might throw at us.”
Whichever Dallas side shows up at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, the Sounders will be ready. They have the talent, experience and preparation to capitalize on their home field advantage.
This team was built for another run in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.