SOCCER

Pollsters ready to return to action after extended break

ADVERTISEMENT

TUKWILA — While early June is often when the Seattle Sounders get an extended break from their MLS campaign, this year’s has been a particularly welcome one. After adding what equates to around 25% more than one season and nearly 20,000 air miles to their schedule thanks to Concacaf Champions League play, the Sounders were rewarded with a 16-day break between matches that included almost a full bye week. team activities.

They now return to action on Tuesday against the well-rested Vancouver Whitecaps and mentally ready to tackle the final two-thirds of their MLS schedule.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The atmosphere is great, we are happy to get back to playing,” said Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei. “In my professional career, I don’t think I’ve had a full week off. Mentally, it was an event that was well received and, at least on my part, that I enjoyed a lot.

At the Whitecaps, the Sounders face a team that has hit solid form after a slow start. The Whitecaps are 4-1-1 in their last six league games, including a win over Real Salt Lake during the international break. In four of those games, the Whitecaps scored a goal in the 90th minute or later which changed the result.

This is the second of five consecutive home games in MLS. The Sounders are well aware that racking up points during this streak will go a long way in determining what kind of seeding they will get in the playoffs.

“We don’t need to get every point, but we need to look like we deserve every point,” Frei said of the homestand. “We have to show that we want to take every point and put ourselves in a position to do so.”

FIFA will announce on Thursday which cities will host the 2026 World Cup which will be played in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Seattle is one of 16 US cities still in the running and is generally considered one of the favorites.

Frei expressed confidence in Seattle’s bid, in which the Sounders are heavily involved.

“We’ve proven that there’s a rabid fan base for football,” he said when asked to state Seattle’s case. “We just had the chance to show what a top game looks like at Lumen Field (when nearly 69,000 showed up for the CCL Finals). If they don’t seize the opportunity they have in this city, I think there are other things at stake. I think we made our point and if we don’t get it, I’ll be very disappointed.

Yeimar Gomez Andrade has been ruled out with a hamstring strain while Stefan Cleveland is listed as questionable with a ‘facial laceration’, and neither is expected to feature against the Whitecaps. Both players picked up injuries in training last week.

Yeimar came back from his bye week with “a little tightness,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We didn’t give it much thought, we had an MRI and it didn’t turn out anything dramatic.” Yeimar resumed training the following day only for the discomfort to persist. At that time, Schmetzer said the Sounders decided to shut down Yeimar as a precaution.

“We have a stack of games to come and I don’t want to take any chances,” Schmetzer said. Yeimar will likely miss at least the next two games.

Cleveland’s injury occurred when he went down to make a save and an attacking player collided with him. Cleveland was back in practice Monday with a sizable black eye and 14 stitches along his eye socket and cheek.

Also in training is Josh Atencio, who hasn’t played since May 22 after sustaining a sprained adductor. Schmetzer described Atencio as “a way out” of the comeback.

Xavier Arreaga was back in training on Monday and will likely start against the Whitecaps. Of the starters who were on international duty, however, Nouhou is the only other who could return in time to play and he would only be available on the bench. Albert Rusnák, starter and assist provider in Slovakia’s 2-1 loss to Kazakhstan on Monday, will not be available, as will Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, who traveled with the United States for the game on Tuesday against El Salvador.

ADVERTISEMENT