With its healthiest roster since game five of the season, Sounders FC ( 10-8-5) will host a floundering 8-9-5 FC Dallas team in a must-win game. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei has been cleared to play. Forward Jordan Morris and Midfielder Cristian Roldan are also available after completing their USMNT duties.
Will Brian Schmetzer shuffle the deck? Saturday’s game against FC Dallas will be the third game in seven days. With a 1-1 record in the previous two games and the added return of Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris National team duties, Schmetzer is bound to make some changes. There is an obvious temptation to insert Morris the team’s leading scorer and Roldan who creates space in the midfield with his tireless running from end to end line. A midfielder who can create space in the middle of the pitch is what the Sounders were lacking in the loss to San Jose. After Friday’s post-practice interview, Schmetzer said both players are available for the Dallas Match.
Also available for the Dallas match is goalkeeper Stefan Frei who missed the last two games due to a concussion Schmetzer also said that he would make a few tweaks. Clearly coach speak. A tease with no clear answer.
HAS THE BACK LINE FIGURED OUT HOW TO DEFEND SET PIECES
Look for Stefan Frei to start in goal Saturday. In his absence, the Sounders backline with Stefan Cleveland in goal has given up four set pieces in two games. After the two-nil loss to the Earthquakes Schmetzer pulled no punches when asked about the four set-piece goals.
“ I am very concerned about that “, Schmetzer said in the post-game press conference.
The four goals were not all Cleveland’s fault. Miscommunication between players led to botched defensive assignments. With Frei leading the league with eleven clean shots and now healthy, it’s a no-brainer to insert him into the starting line-up. Frei’s experience will bring some calmness to the backline.
Saturdays is a must-win for the Sounders. Counting Saturday’s match the club has eleven MLS games left before the postseason. After Saturday’s match, the Sounders will switch to the League Champions Cup tournament and won’t return to league play until August 20th. It’s not clear what the League Cup tournament will be. The company line is that the club will try to add another trophy to its case.
The question then is at what cost? Raul Ruidiaz has been on a pitch count all season, Morris, Cristian Roldan, and Joao Paulo could use any rest possible before the final leg of the regular season. That being said it’s easy to see why Saturday’s game is a must win for the Sounders. FC Dallas has one win in its last four games. The lone victory was a 2-0 win over LAFC. A win over Dallas would enable the Sounders to pause MLS play on a good note and erase the disastrous effort at San Jose.
|Teams||Record||Last five games||GD||Leading Score||Leading Asst|
|Sounders FC||10-8-5||2-2-1||+6(28/22)||Morris 9||Two tied 8|
|FC Dallas||8-9-5||1-4-0||-1(24/25)||Ferreira 10||Ntsabelneg 4|
Ethan Dobbelaere – Right Hamstring Strain
Stefan Frei – Concussion Protocol
Sota Kitahara – Right Quad Strain
Xavier Arreaga – Right Quad Strain
Kelyn Rowe – Right Quad Strain
Paul Arriola (thigh), Geovane Jesus (thigh), José Martínez (knee), Paxton Pomykal
(thigh), Ema Twumasi (ankle), Alan Velasco (thigh)
Jesús Jiménez (ankle), Tarik Scott (season-ending knee injury), Amet Korça (head)
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