After a recent practice, Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer gathered his injury-riddled team together.
“This is it,” Schmetzer told his players. “This is who we are for the next little bit. So, let’s get out and get after it.”
For the Sounders (2-5-2, 8 points), that starts with Saturday’s home match against Real Salt Lake (4-6-1, 13 points) at CenturyLink Field.
Leading scorer Will Bruin, who has three goals and two assists, has a partial tear of the plantar fascia on his left foot and is listed as out, as is midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (left quadriceps strain), the team’s longtime captain. Seattle has been without forward Jordan Morris (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and midfielder Victor Rodriguez (right surgery) all season.
The Sounders also allowed three starters — defender Roman Torres (Panama) and midfielders Nicolas Lodeiro (Uruguay) and Gustav Svensson (Sweden) — to join their respective international teams in preparation for the World Cup.
Schmetzer said neither Lodeiro (fractured toe) nor Torres (hamstring strain) would’ve been able to play Saturday. Because of that, the team also released Svensson early.
“I felt it was only fair — Gustav has been a very good foot soldier, played three games in a week, hard — I made the decision to let him go because the World Cup is a big deal,” Schmetzer said. “I want Gustav to be a starter in some World Cup games for Sweden. I think he deserves that. I think he’s earned that right. So that is a decision that the club made.”
RSL also has an international player making news, but for different reasons.
Leading scorer Albert Rusnak is expected to play Saturday, but his mindset remains to be seen.
The 23-year-old midfielder sparked a controversy Tuesday when he said he’s happy to be going on international duty with Slovakia next week to get a break from his struggling MLS club.
“I’m actually happy I’m going to get out of here for a minute because there’s a lot that’s going on off the field,” Rusnak said. “And the people to speak to about that are probably the higher up people in the club, and they know what’s going on.”
MLSsoccer.com reported Rusnak, who has a team-leading three goals and three assists this season, has been frustrated by contract negotiations that started in January.
That doesn’t bode well for RSL, which is 0-5-1 on the road and coming off a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia.
“Right now, this is who we are,” RSL coach Mike Petke said after the game. “On the road, we don’t lose small. We lose big.”
RSL has five players listed as out on the injury report and forward Joao Plata is questionable with a quadriceps injury.
“They’ve got some injury problems, but look they have a good team, a quality team,” Schmetzer said. “In MLS, any team in any situation can win. We’re wary of all their players.”
The all-time series is tied 9-9-4, with Seattle 8-2-2 at home.
—Field Level Media