TUKWILA, Wash. — After running out an identical starting lineup for two consecutive matches, injuries and suspensions will force the Seattle Sounders to make some changes before the team’s match against the New York Red Bulls on Thursday (10 pm ET, ESPN2).
Starters Brad Evans (injury) and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (red card suspension) will be spectators, meaning some new faces will see the field in front of the expected record CenturyLink Field crowd of 45,000-50,000.
In the midfield, several options exist to replace Evans, who suffered a bruised ankle against Toronto FC. Despite not being listed on the injury report, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Tuesday that he planned to rest Evans against New York even before the attack-minded midfielder came off injured against Toronto.
Both Servando Carrasco and Erik Friberg have played well in spot starts this season, and each player can play any midfield position. One or both players could start, depending on whether Schmid wants to deploy 30-year-old Argentine midfielder Mauro Rosales on short rest.
With Álvaro Fernández also possibly ready to start after returning in a substitute’s role against Toronto, the midfield continues to be a position of depth for Seattle.
At center back, Zach Scott has emerged as a potential dark horse candidate to leapfrog Patrick Ianni and replace Hurtado in the lineup. Scott entered Seattle’s last match after Hurtado’s red card and has earned plaudits for his play in the Sounders’ reserves matches.
“We are very comfortable with our center backs,” Schmid said.
Schmid expects Hurtado to return for the Sunday afternoon match against the New England Revolution.
On New York’s side, Thierry Henry will miss the match serving a one-game suspension for a red card against Portland. Dynamic forward Luke Rodgers also misses out due to a heel injury, while Rafa Márquez and Tim Ream remain on Gold Cup duty with their respective national teams. However, with Dwayne De Rosario and Dane Richards both back from the CONCACAF tournament, the Sounders won’t adjust their preparations.
“Preparations don’t really change,” Sounders defender James Riley said. “Obviously those guys are of extreme quality, but we’re going to respect every team to the fullest whether we’re playing them home or away, and we’re going to look to pick up three points.”
New York are 1-1-6 in their past eight matches after a strong start to the season. They topped Seattle 1-0 on March 19.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS