The last two days of training have definitely felt a bit different. Part of that can of course be chalked up to the Sounders being on a bye week. Another part to the fact that the team is missing a handful of players to international duties. Still, change of seasons (finally) and a 3-0 start means a group that is in good spirits on the training pitch.
That said, not everything is perfect, and there is certainly room for improvement. The focus over the last few days has been defensive, with the Sounders having given up goals even after substitutions meant to fortify leads.
On Tuesday, Coach Brian Schmetzer talked about the late game substitutions not going according to plan. “Gustav has had a tendency the last two games to drop between the two centerbacks,” Schmetzer said. “At times it looks like we’re playing with four centerbacks. It wasn’t really great. We need to refigure that through personnel, through tactics, through training.
Today, both Stefan Frei and Brad Smith spoke to those issues as well, though neither thinks there are any issues that can’t be worked through. “Obviously we were disappointed to concede two goals, but it’s away from home,” Smith said. “Five at the back is an experiment we’re working on to try and close out games; obviously it didn’t go the way we wanted to.”
Frei noted that early in the season, every team will make mistakes that will be fixed with additional training and experience. “This team has a lot of potential,” Frei said. “No concerns at all; I don’t think we’re out of the norm.
“When it’s early in the season, there will be mistakes. We’re not 100% there yet; neither is any other team. So I’m not worried at all.”
The week has brought some good news for the remaining injured players (of which there are few): Sam Rodgers was in full training today. Rodgers is signed to the Tacoma Defiance, as is custom for the Sounders, young players frequently come up to train with the first team through the week to gain additional insight and experience. His return is along the timeline estimated by the team, which had him returning by the end of the month to potentially get back into games.
Lastly, the Sounders had an unusual visitor at practice today: Former nemesis Blas Perez, who retired from professional play recently. Perez is a friend of Roman Torres, so no need to worry about him employing his dark arts with the team.
Blas Perez is here visiting. Unfortunately, three Sounders have already been sent off with dubious red cards. pic.twitter.com/g9Ol6aPvji— Miki Turner (@turneresq) March 21, 2019