The Sounders opened their preseason Wednesday with a goal-less draw against Cascadia rival Portland. The match was part of a Desert Showcase hosted by FC Tucson at Kino North Stadium in Arizona, but unavailable via livestream. Accounts are based on information provided by the Sounders.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer started a veteran-laden lineup that included striker Raul Ruidiaz and defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade — both MLS Best XI and All-Stars — and midfielder Albert Rusnak. The latter starred at Real Salt Lake last season and signed with Seattle earlier this month as a designated player.
Rusnak, a versatile playmaker, was used on the right wing while Brazilian midfielder Leo Chu, who signed in August, was used on the left. University of Washington grad Dylan Teves also received a nod to start along with Tacoma Defiance players in Joe Hafferty and Randy Mendoza.
“We had some good opportunities to try and score,” said Schmetzer, according to audio provided by the Sounders. The team finished the 2021 season on a seven-game winless streak, including an opening-round postseason loss.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have that one little bit of quality or luck to get the ball in the back of the net,” Schmetzer continued.
The first group played 62 minutes. Schmetzer substituted in a host of Defiance players, Hal Uderitz, a 2022 third-round SuperDraft pick from Seattle University, and Jack-Ryan Jeremiah, who plays for the Seattle Academy. Ruidiaz was subbed out at halftime for veteran Will Bruin.
Sounders keeper Stefan Frei was replaced in goal by Stefan Cleveland.
“Typical preseason game,” Schmetzer said. “There were some good performances, some young performances, some veteran performances. Everybody played with enthusiasm, which is half of it. The game didn’t get out of hand.”
Seattle is without internationals Cristian Roldan (U.S.), Jordan Morris (U.S.), Alex Roldan (El Salvador) and Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) who are with their national teams for World Cup qualifying matches. Sounders defender Nouhou is playing for Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, helping his country reach the quarterfinals.
The Roldans could play each other again when the U.S. faces El Salvador on Thursday in Ohio for a qualifying match. The game will air at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
Brazilian midfielder Joao Paulo is also not with the team. He is trying to obtain a green card, according to the Sounders.
Uruguayan midfielder Nico Lodeiro traveled to Tucson for the 10-day training camp and participated in practices this week but did not feature in the match.
Seattle will play a closed-door preseason match against the Colorado Rapids next week. The team will return to Seattle and then head to Palm Springs for the final leg of camp before opening the 2022 slate with a CONCACAF series against Honduran side F.C. Motagua. The opener is Feb. 17 in Honduras and the second is at Lumen Field on Feb. 24.
The Sounders begin MLS play against Nashville SC on Feb. 27 at Lumen.
NOTE: Sounders defender Brad Smith is expected to be traded to D.C. United, according to The Washington Post. Seattle would receive a monetary sum in return.
Smith was acquired via loan from A.F.C. Bournemouth in 2018 and was integral to Seattle’s championship run in 2019. The Australian international was hampered by hamstring injuries but appeared in 27 games and scored three goals and four assists last season.