TUKWILA, Wash. — Through all the ups and downs of the Seattle Sounders’ season, there have been a few constants.
One of them has been Zach Scott, a 32-year-old backup defender who has filled in at all four backline positions and has already racked up career highs in starts (15) and minutes played (1,368). And with Adam Johansson out on international duty with Sweden, Scott will likely be called upon again on Wednesday when the Sounders host Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Serving as the understudy at several positions might not be glamorous, but Scott knows his role is not about style points.
“As we get nearer to the playoffs, hopefully I can get a foot in the door and show coach [Sigi Schmid] that if the opportunity arises, I’m there and ready,” Scott said.
This is Scott’s fourth MLS season, but his 11th with the Sounders. After first winning a spot with the USL team via open tryout, he is now the Sounders’ last remaining player from those minor-league days and just one of seven left over from their inaugural MLS roster.
He’s made it this far almost entirely through hard work.
“Over my four years, he’s probably the most improved player,” Schmid said. “A lot of it is just his work and his effort. I have to drag him off the practice field because I don’t want him to train too much.
“A lot of guys you have to encourage to go out there and do things and him you have to sort of pull off the field and make him do a little less," Schmid said. "He’s worked hard to get to where he’s at and he deserves everything he’s gotten.”
Scott knows he’ll have his hands full against a formidable RSL team who are on a three-game winning streak, in which they’ve outscored their opponents 8-2.
“It’s a big one for myself,” said Scott, who hasn’t played in a league game since Sept. 8. “I always want to play against the best players and RSL always fields a strong team. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
After practicing lightly for several days last week, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is now back to full speed. The timetable on Jhon-Kennedy Hurtado remains unclear after the defender fractured a cheekbone against the Portland Timbers on Oct. 7.
“We’re trying to get him fitted right now for a mask,” Schmid said. “We don’t know exactly when that’s going to be completed and done, then we’ll make a determination … if he can play with it and he feels comfortable with it, and once that gets resolved, he should be clear to play.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.