The circumstances surrounding Shalrie Joseph’s Seattle debut were hardly ideal. They'll be similarly daunting should Joseph make his second-ever appearance Tuesday night in Torreón.
Injuries left the Sounders without three of their top forwards in Seattle, prompting head coach Sigi Schmid to use a five-man midfield against Santos Laguna in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. They'll certainly be without Obafemi Martins as they prepare for a must-win match Tuesday night against Santos in the second leg (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com), meaning Joseph is once again in line to get the call.
And although it was a formation previously unused by the Sounders this season, Joseph’s passing ability – he completed a team-best 43 of 49 passes in the first leg – was key to Seattle winning the possession battle, while his cover and positioning helped limit Santos Laguna’s chances in the 1-0 loss.
“Sigi gave me that freedom to go get the ball wherever I can,” Joseph told reporters last week. “Ozzie [Alonso] does so much defensively, I love playing alongside him already. I’m just trying to get on the ball as much as I can, create opportunities and trying to find the creative guys on this team. Whoever it is, just get the ball to their feet or wherever they want it.”
With Eddie Johnson’s availability still in question for Tuesday night's second leg, the Sounders could end up using a very similar lineup to the one they trotted out at CenturyLink Field. Either way, Joseph promises to play a key role.
Unlike the first game, though, Joseph will have actually be able to draw on actual game experience when he takes the field.
"It was my first game in a couple of months; you could tell I wasn't as sharp as I would like to be,” Joseph said. “The more we practice together, the more we work together, I think as I said the sky is the limit and we got to start winning games."