TUKWILA, Wash. — With Tuesday night’s US Open Cup final against the Chicago Fire fast approaching, it’s too early to tell if Seattle’s James Riley (concussion) and Mauro Rosales (sprained MCL) will play a part. Both players are game-time decisions, according to head coach Sigi Schmid.
In Rosales’ case, Schmid is holding out hope that his influential Argentine midfielder can claim a place in the starting lineup. Rosales is in a battle to recover from a sprained MCL in his right knee, an injury suffered in the late stages of Seattle’s Sept. 17 match against D.C. United.
“He’s doing OK,” said Schmid of Rosales. “He did more today and so we’ll see how he tolerates today and then we see how he tolerates tomorrow and then we’ll make a decision for Tuesday, but it’s definitely going to be something that’s going to be a game-time decision.”
The initial prognosis had Rosales missing 2-4 weeks of action, so Sounders fans are optimistic that the maestro will be ready to go 17 days after the injury. Rosales had emerged as a dark-horse candidate for league MVP honors on the strength of his steadying influence and 12 assists in MLS play.
“It’s not something where I could tell you right now, yes or no, is he starting or is he a sub,” Schmid added. “We hope at the very least he’s a sub for us, so right now we’re trying to see if he’s strong enough to start or strong enough to be a sub.”
Like Rosales, Riley has also not played in a competitive match since going 90 minutes against D.C. United. The seven-year veteran, who appeared chipper at Sunday’s practice session, is also one of the few Sounders without an established backup.
In early September, General Manager Adrian Hanauer and Schmid were looking to add another player to provide cover for Riley at right back, inviting Bratislav Ristic and Wes Knight to camp. Ultimately, Terry Boss's concussion forced the Sounders to sign another goalkeeper, which in turn played a role in Roger Levesque’s appearance at right back against the New England Revolution. With the club searching for a back-up plan to Riley, Zach Scott has also been deployed at right back with Schmid also mentioning David Estrada’s name as a possible replacement.
Unquestionably, Seattle would prefer to have the dependable Riley available. The defender has played in at least 26 matches in all three of his seasons in Rave Green.
“James has been able to keep practicing and we’ll get a final go-ahead with him tomorrow as well,” Schmid said.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS