Plus: midfielder Aaron Kovar continues his recovery from a broken collarbone, and the reasons why the bye weekend was good to the Sounders on multiple levels.

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The Sounders were back at work on Tuesday morning at Starfire Sports Complex after three days off — and with some notable exceptions.

Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Roman Torres, Joevin Jones and Oalex Anderson are all still away on international duty. Most will return to Seattle toward the back end of this week, and all should be available for this Saturday’s match at the San Jose Earthquakes.

But one particular absence was more glaring than the rest, especially given another non-update provided by interim coach Brian Schmetzer afterward.

More than a week-and-a-half since the announcement that forward Clint Dempsey is undergoing evaluations for an irregular heartbeat, the club has provided no clearer a timetable for his potential return than the one additionally offered.

“I cannot update on that,” Schmetzer said, simply enough, and the wait continues.

– Otherwise, though, there was a rejuvenated spirit in the damp air on Tuesday at Starfire Sports. The team was given the full holiday weekend off, three straight days to rest weary limbs, and they returned to practice with aplomb.

“I think everybody needed a break,” Schmetzer said. “Based on training today, I think it was good for the players, too. They were in good spirits.

“We were a little dinged up. Erik (Friberg) was a little dinged up, Nelson (Valdez) was a little dinged up. There were some guys with niggling injuries, so that was good. MLS is a long season, so for them to mentally recharge was just as good as the physical part.”

– The bye weekend was good to the Sounders in other ways, as well, in the team’s search for its eighth straight postseason appearance. Most of the teams around it in the Western Conference lost, including sixth-place Portland (3-1 at Dallas) and ninth-place Vancouver (1-0 at home to the Red Bulls).

Seattle is still four points behind the Timbers for the final playoff berth, now has two games in hand and can leapfrog the ‘Quakes into seventh place with a win this weekend at Avaya Stadium.

“Oh, I saw some of the games,” Schmetzer said with a sly grin. “It put a smile on all of our faces, some of the results, for sure.”

– Winger Aaron Kovar is out of his protective sling and has returned to some portions of practice. Kovar suffered a broken collarbone in Seattle’s U.S. Open Cup loss to Los Angeles in late July and has been out of commission ever since.

The 23-year-old midfielder out of Stanford has made a career-high 15 appearances this season for the Sounders, tallying a single goal.

“Hopefully we’ll have him back on the field 100 percent very soon,” Schmetzer said.