The Sounders returned to the practice field in earnest over the past two days, having gotten some extended time off over the last 10 days or so with the International Break.
Without the full squad in attendance, the Sounders have use some of the Tacoma Defiance roster (and Gonzalo Pineda) to help make up the training numbers, which does have the benefit of getting those players some experience working with the first team.
Speaking of the Defiance, they took a rather heavy defeat over the weekend in Tulsa (though the score probably wasn’t representative of the run of play). I asked Coach Brian Schmetzer about not bringing some of the Sounders depth pieces down there to get minutes, given that the health of the starting XI has meant limited time for the bench.
“We had a simulated scrimmage here with Academy kids; the rest of Defiance kids who didn’t make the trip,” Schmetzer said. “We figured we could get them a good runout here on Friday.”
Turning to Vancouver, it’s no secret the Whitecaps have struggled out of the gate with no results in three games. Part of that is attributable to the nearly unprecedented turnover of their roster (20 players in and out) and a new coach. That said, Coach Schmetzer isn’t taking them lightly. “They still have [Fredy] Montero and [Yordy] Reyna and a few pieces mixed in,” Schmetzer said. “We’ll plan for Montero and some of their key players, and then we’ll try to impose our will on them.”
As a group, the players are obviously in good spirits given the good start and some time off to rest (early though it is). Right back Kelvin Leerdam is optimistic the team can continue the good start. “Overall the feeling in the group is still very, very good,” Leerdam said. “Nobody really liked the bye week because we were really in the flow.”
Notwithstanding his early scoring form, Leerdam indicated there was still much more to see from the partnership with himself and Jordan Morris. “It looks good for the media, because the results are positive,” Leerdam said. “We know as players that we are not where we want to be and it can be more fluent than it is right now.”
Stefan Frei credited the fast start on offense with a commitment by the attacking players to contribute on defense. “It stars with everyone buying in, playing defense,” Frei said. “If you have wingers or strikers who are not down to interchange positions and defend here and there, then it’s not going to happen.”
Frei pointed out the relationship between Brad Smith and Victor Rodriguez in particular when they overlap. “I love seeing the attitude we have on offense and defense,” Frei said. “If it (an attack) does’t come to fruition, then [it’s] Victor because he is the further man back, taking that responsibly to track back and make sure we’re okay offensively.”
Jordy Delem has returned from international duty, but none of the other internationals are back yet (Gustav Svensson Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan play Tuesday; Nico Lodeiro finished up his international duties, but is flying back from China), and likely won’t be back at training until Thursday or Friday. Everyone else seems to be healthy at this point, small knocks aside.