TUKWILA — Sounders FC’s preseason is over and game week has arrived as the team returned to the practice Monday after a 12-day trip to Charleston, S.C.
Still, much remains to be done before Seattle’s opener Saturday at CenturyLink Field against defending MLS champion Sporting Kansas City. Finalizing the roster would be a nice start.
While myriad offseason changes have the major personnel issues sorted out, there is still much to be done at the bottom of the depth chart.
To that end, coach Sigi Schmid has indicated that reserve midfielder Alex Caskey, who wasn’t at practice, is not part of the team’s plans. Caskey’s expected departure would subsequently leave the Sounders with only 24 of 30 roster spots filled. That’s a number that factors in the expected buyout of Shalrie Joseph before kickoff Saturday (the veteran midfielder is under contract but hasn’t been with the team since the end of last season).
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The team won’t have to look far for options. More than a handful of unsigned players have been active — and often impressive — in training camp the past few weeks: draft pick Fabio Pereira and invitees Kevin Parsemain, Kent native Cam Weaver, former Mexican international Gonzalo Pineda, Michael Azira and John Arroyo. Multiple signings are expected from that group.
The Sounders have also been tied to Costa Rica’s Jose Miguel Cubero, a 27-year-old midfielder with international experience, according to reports from the Central American country.
Schmid, for his part, was coy about prospective moves.
“We’re working on finalizing a few things,” he said. “In the next couple days, there will be some announcements, I’m sure.”
Dempsey coming back early?
The U.S. men’s national team’s friendly Wednesday against the Ukraine has been canceled, according to multiple reports citing the president of the Ukrainian soccer federation. The game was going to be played in Cyprus due to the political turmoil in Ukraine.
U.S. Soccer denied such reports, however, claiming the exhibition “will proceed as schedule.”
The possible cancellation could see Clint Dempsey return to the Sounders earlier than expected. The USMNT captain just completed his loan with Fulham of the English Premier League and was the only MLS player remaining on the U.S. roster for the friendly.
• DeAndre Yedlin, who turned his ankle in Saturday’s preseason finale, and Chad Marshall were held out of drills, but both defenders are expected to be fine for the season opener, according to Schmid.
• Defender Leo Gonzalez, who is recovering from groin surgery, is at about 85 percent health, Schmid noted. If unable to go, Gonzalez likely would be replaced by second-year left back Dylan Remick, who led the team with three assists in a breakout preseason.
• MLS announced it will have a Homegrown Game as part of All-Star Week this season. Prospective Sounders could include Yedlin, if not named an All-Star again, along with this year’s signings, Sean Okoli and Aaron Kovar.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org