Sigi Schmid denied holding players out of Saturday's 3-1 win at Vancouver ahead of a CONCACAF Champions League match, but the decision to rest a few regulars certainly opens up options for Tuesday’s contest against Comunicaciones (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
At least three ailing players – Erik Friberg (hip flexor), James Riley (concussion) and Roger Levesque (general fatigue) – stayed behind in Seattle to recuperate. A fourth player, Tyson Wahl, also got the night off due to yellow-card suspension.
Having all of those players available Tuesday unquestionably increases Schmid’s options coming into an important CCL matchup in Guatemala. The objective of the tie is crystal clear: a win or draw against Comunicaciones pushes Seattle into the knockout rounds with one game to spare.
“Obviously, we’ve got some tired bodies, so we’re hoping a couple of the guys who are back in Seattle injured – like Erik Friberg and maybe Roger Levesque – will be able to go by the time we get to Guatemala,” Schmid said after Seattle's 3-1 victory at Vancouver on Saturday. “Obviously, Fucito we held out tonight, [but] he’s very close to being 100 percent again.
“So, having those guys available gives us a little more choice. But the guys are going to have to suck it up for Tuesday because we want to get a result in Guatemala to advance."
As the match in Vancouver progressed with the Sounders holding a two-goal lead, Schmid and his assistants mulled over the idea of removing key players to rest them. Schmid ultimately decided against it, keeping players like Fredy Montero, Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso in for the full 90 minutes.
“My feeling was, ‘Let’s get tonight’s win and then we’ll start worrying about Tuesday in about 10 minutes,’” Schmid said. “We’ll see what happens down there.”
Projecting the recovery times—and therefore the matchday availability—of players is an inexact science. Schmid’s contingency plan? Flying a full squad from Dallas, where Seattle stopped Sunday, to Guatemala via a chartered jet.
Schmid told the Tacoma News-Tribune that the entire group from Vancouver would head to Guatemala, as would a few players that met the team in Dallas. That should leave Schmid with a pool of 20-plus players as he selects his starting lineup against a Comunicaciones team which drew 0-0 in its past league game and has not won in the past three matches across all competitions.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.