No controversy: Once healthy, Leo Gonzalez to slot back into Seattle Sounders starting XI
TUKWILA, Wash. — Leo González remains the Seattle Sounders’ starting left back, but right now that may be more of an honorary title.
The Sounders’ reigning Defensive Player of the Year went 90 minutes in an exhibition against the University of Washington on Sunday, marking the first time he had played a full-length match since undergoing offseason groin surgery.
While Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid reasserted that the Costa Rican has not lost his spot on the depth chart, there also doesn’t seem to be any rush to get him onto the field. Dylan Remick started the season opener and was more good than bad. There were rough patches, but he didn’t make any game-changing mistakes either.
“It’s still Leo’s job and I’ve told Remick that,” Schmid told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s our returning starting fullback and it was an injury that had him out. Sometimes when you come off the injury that Leo is coming off, you get to 90-95 percent but it’s that last 5-10 percent, that little bit of burst, little bit of explosion.
“Leo has always been one of our best defenders going against fast players. People always think they’re faster than Leo, but he always finds a way to find that gear where he’s able to stay with that guy. That’s the last little gear he’s looking for.”
Despite being behind the schedule he had hoped for, González seems to be taking this all in stride and didn’t give any indication that he’s campaigning to play immediately either.
“I feel almost ready,” he said. “It’s difficult, but maybe I need a couple more weeks to feel 100 percent. More importantly, I feel healthy. I need to work extra because I started the preseason late. I think I’ll get there quickly.”
In the meantime, González has drawn plaudits from both the coaching staff and teammates for his willingness to help get Remick acclimated.
“I just want the best for the team,” González said. “Dylan did a great job in preseason. He’s a great player, he’s a younger guy. He needs advice from older guys and I have 13 years of professional experience; he just started to play professionally. I give him some advice. He’s a good guy and he deserves to play.
“He needs to keep working hard because I want to play, too. If it’s good for him, it’s good for me.”