TUKWILA, Wash. — Finally, some good news on the Seattle Sounders injury front.
An MRI on Eddie Johnson’s hamstring revealed only a “slight tweak” and Jeff Parke is apparently ready to play, while injured defenders Leo González and Patrick Ianni are “getting better every day,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters on Tuesday.
The biggest concerns were over Johnson’s availability heading into the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Friday vs. Real Salt Lake after the Sounders’ leading scorer came out just before halftime of Sunday’s regular-season finale at LA.
“It’s not nearly as bad as we initially thought,” Schmid said of Johnson's hamstring injury. “We wanted to go easy with him today and see where he’s at tomorrow. There’s an outside chance on Friday and for sure the second game shouldn’t be a problem.”
That has to come as music to the Sounders’ ears as they prepare for another showdown with RSL (Friday, 10 pm ET, NBCSN). A year ago, Seattle faced a similar situation heading into another playoff encounter with the Claret-and-Cobalt. That time, it was Mauro Rosales who was nursing an injury. He was ultimately forced to miss both legs as the Sounders fell 3-2 on aggregate.
“The guys that are healthy to play are the guys that are going to play,” Schmid said. “Just as last year, we missed Mauro, and if Eddie can’t play, we’ll miss him. Other guys will have to step up and do the business.”
Among the candidates Schmid mentioned as possible replacements for Johnson were Sammy Ochoa, David Estrada, Steve Zakuani or even Rosales. Of those, Ochoa and Estrada are the only two to start alongside Fredy Montero this year, which would seem to work in their favor.
Ochoa has scored eight goals in all competitions this season, but only one in league play. Estrada has scored five league goals, but none since missing nearly four months with a broken foot.
There should be no such speculation about a replacement for Parke, who Schmid said only came out of Sunday’s game as a precaution.
“I’m playing,” Parke declared on Tuesday. “I’m not worried about it. I lifted today and ran. Tomorrow i’ll start practicing again.”