TUKWILA, Wash. — With Mauro Rosales awaiting results on an MRI on his injured right knee, Seattle spent Monday going through the finishing touches in preparation for Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League encounter against Herediano (10 pm ET; FOX Soccer).
It will be the second meeting in six days between the two teams, with the Sounders claiming a 2-1 victory on the road against Herediano on Sept. 14.
For Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, the goal on Tuesday night remains the same as it was heading into the group stage: defending home turf.
“Obviously it’s still an important game because of the way results have gone within the group,” Schmid said. “We set as our objective going into the tournament that we want to do well in our home games and win our home games.”
With a victory, Seattle would maintain the top spot in the group with 12 points from four matches. While that point total would put Seattle through to the knockout stages, it’s mathematically possible in that scenario for either Comunicaciones (six points) or Monterrey (three points) to still win group D. Those two teams kick off against one another two hours before the Seattle-Herediano tilt.
However, as the competition’s only perfect team through the first three match days, Seattle find themselves in a commanding position against a struggling Herediano team (0-3-0). The Costa Ricans would likely need to win out to have any chance of advancing to the group stage after their forgettable start.
With a long break before Saturday’s rivalry match at the Vancouver Whitecaps, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado seems likely to start in central defense after missing out against D.C. United with a red-card suspension. In other positions, Schmid might see fit to rotate in some lesser-used players, such as recent signing Sammy Ochoa.
The Sounders traded up to acquire the striker’s rights on Aug. 26, but the forward faced a rigorous conditioning routine upon joining the team. Schmid said the player, who has dual Mexican-American citizenship, has been making progress on the fitness front.
“He’s getting fitter and so forth,” Schmid said. “He’s a little bit heavy-legged as well. Sometimes when you’re off training for three to four months and you’re about three weeks into it, that’s when you get a little … general achiness and fatigue and you have to build through that. He’s close to where he could come off the bench and play 20 to 30 minutes.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.