Ochoa likely to get the call for EJ as Sounders face RSL
TUKWILA, Wash. – It's looking increasingly likely that the Seattle Sounders will be without Eddie Johnson for at least one playoff game.
The Sounders' leading scorer, whose injury has now been updated to be an adductor strain after Monday's MRI, still hasn't been able to train in fully ahead of Friday's home leg of the Western Conference Semifinal against Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET; NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
"Chances are he might not be able to play tomorrow," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said at Thursday's training session. "But he went through a lot more today and he's up working with Dave [Tenney, Seattle's trainer] right now. We'll make the final determination before the game tomorrow. For sure, we think the second game isn't going to be an issue at all."
Although there's been no indication who would replace Johnson, Sammy Ochoa is the most recent player to get the call. Ochoa only played 40 minutes in that game against RSL on Oct. 17, as he was removed shortly after the Sounders went down to 10 men and opted to bring in another defender.
It's another game Ochoa played against RSL that is more on his mind, though. Ochoa received his first-ever MLS start in last season's conference semifinal opener, a game in which he was pulled after 62 ineffective minutes as the Sounders lost 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Asked what he remembered about that game, Ochoa replied simply, "losing."
"We're excited about this game," he continued. "We're ready to come back from that playoff loss last year."
That disappointing performance seemed to carry over into the following preseason, where Ochoa came into camp somewhat out of shape and slipped down the depth chart.
"It allowed David [Estrada] to sort of take his opportunity," Schmid said. "Then as David got hurt the opportunity fell back to Sammy. He was really prepared to take advantage of it. If he keeps that goal-scoring form that he's shown in Open Cup and Champions League [seven goals combined] and brings that into the game tomorrow that will be very good for us."
Schmid ruled out injured defenders Leo González (hamstring) and Patrick Ianni (calf) from Friday's game, but said they are making progress. He noted that González is closer to returning than Ianni.