The Sounders FC roster continues to head in the wrong direction — toward the inexperienced and unavailable.
Center back Xavier Arreaga is the latest add to Seattle’s list of players coach Brian Schmetzer is unable to select for the club’s Thursday match at expansion site Austin FC at Q2 Stadium. Arreaga was fined $250 and is suspended for Thursday’s match due to yellow card accumulation.
In the 63rd minute of Seattle’s loss Sunday at Minnesota, the Ecuadorian was shown a yellow card, his fifth of the season. The Sounders are without 10 first-choice players overall, including brothers Cristian and Alex Roldan, who are competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“It took us a while to come to a starting lineup,” Schmetzer said Wednesday during a videoconference call with media. The discussion involved the medical staff as the Sounders are in the midst of a three-match week. Seattle will host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Schmetzer said to create the lineup sports science and tactics were weighed against the capabilities of the additional young players expected to be part of the game-day roster. A small positive is the Tacoma Defiance players the Sounders have called on as part of the league’s hardship signings are familiar with the first-team system.
“The players understand what the general tactics are,” Schmetzer said. “Obviously the level of competition that they would face if they got in the game is a little higher, so you try and simplify the game for the young kids.
“You just want them to use their youthful exuberance and their excitement to be involved in a professional game to kind of carry (them). Some of the adrenaline turns into energy and, yeah, they’re going to be nervous. Of course they are. If they weren’t nervous, then I would be concerned. … Their job, if they get on the field, is to work hard and represent themselves and the club in a positive fashion.”
Schmetzer has been vocal about his want for Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders president of soccer and general manager, to add players beyond call-ups from the USL side to help counter the injuries. The MLS Secondary Transfer Window runs through Aug. 5.
There are reports the Sounders are close to signing Brazilian attacker Wesley. The 22-year-old is currently a winger for Palmeiras, a Brazilian Serie A club, where he has bagged eight goals and recorded eight assists in 53 matches.
“Unfortunately, we’re not able to comment on players under contract with other teams; that would be tampering,” Lagerwey said Tuesday during his weekly radio appearance on KJR in response to Schmetzer telling the station negotiations were happening.
“If you’re able to add some speed, that’s maybe the one thing that would be beneficial,” Lagerwey continued. “I don’t know if we’re going to do anything this window or not. We’re always looking to get better. And if we find an appropriate deal, we’ll do that. We feel like we have a pretty good team, and we’re excited about the opportunities the young guys have gotten, and we will continue to support the guys in the locker room. We’re not going to go out willy-nilly and sign someone so it looks like we’re doing something. If we find something we don’t have, we’ll do it; and if we don’t, we won’t.”
Lagerwey would prefer the big summer signing actually be the return of the club’s injured stars and quality veterans. Schmetzer said forward Will Bruin (knee) and defender Shane O’Neill (hip flexor) are close to rejoining full training while midfielder Nico Lodeiro (knee) is expected to work out with assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda on Friday to assess his progress.
The Sounders (8-1-5) remain atop the 27-team league despite the rash of injuries. Sunday’s loss to Minnesota ended a 13-match unbeaten streak, the Loons finding their lone goal in the 81st minute.
Austin (3-6-4) managed a goalless draw against Seattle in May at Lumen Field. The Verde and Black haven’t played a MLS match since July 7, losing 2-0 at home to Los Angeles FC.
“It’s probably a bit of an intimidating place to play because (we) haven’t been in that stadium,” Schmetzer said. “We have to get our first time out and figure out — even sometimes for the goalkeepers and the lights — is it windy? What are the field conditions like? It’ll take a while for MLS clubs to figure out that stadium. But we’ll have to be good on set pieces and manufacturing goals.”