The first international break since the World Cup concludes today, but the Sounders are hard at work as they prepare for this weekend’s game versus the Vancouver Whitecaps. Players on international duty are already returning, highlighted by Nicholas Lodeiro, who was full in training today. Lodeiro’s return wasn’t particularly shocking, since his Uruguay team had only one game this break, and it was played in Houston. But nonetheless, good to see him back today.
Coach Brian Schmetzer said he expects most of the remaining players to be back over the next two days, and admitted it can be difficult to immediately integrate them back into the team after being away from the team for nearly two weeks. He also talked about the nature of the rivalry between the Sounders and the Whitecaps in contrast to the more publicized Sounders/Timbers match ups. Schmetzer didn’t believe that there is much less in this rivalry, potentially initiating an international incident at one point as he (jokingly) talked about our neighbors to the north.
The chance to win the Cascadia Cup was not lost on Schmetzer nor Ozzie Alonso, who noted that the Sounders hadn’t won the competition since 2015. Thus, there is that added motivation for this game, on top of the fact that the Whitecaps are a single point behind the Sounders in the standings.
The team looks to be about as healthy as they’ve been all year, barring any injury issues for the players still on international duty (knock on wood). Once they are back towards the tail end of this week, Schmetzer will have some serious options (and questions) as he determines the best lineup to try to bring George home.