TUKWILA, Wash. – Two days before the biggest game of their season, the Seattle Sounders still aren’t sure if their top playmaker will be available.
Mauro Rosales was able to participate in part of Tuesday’s practice, but was excused early to continue treatment on his ailing hamstring.
“There was definite progress from yesterday,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters. “We’re able to localize the injury so we just have to see how he feels tomorrow and keep going, progressing day-by-day.”
From the sound of it, Schmid would be reluctant to start Rosales if the Argentine schemer is not fully fit. Heading into the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinal with Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), the aggregate score is currently tied 0-0. The possibility very much exists that Thursday’s game could go 120 minutes.
“Well, you have to think about that,” Schmid said. “You have to make sure your starting people have the capability of going 90-plus minutes. You don’t want to start too many players that you feel can’t got 90 minutes because if that’s the case then you’re locked into some subs and if something unbeknownst happens – somebody gets injured, something you don’t expect – then you’re in trouble. So that’s going to affect our lineup at the end of the day.”
If Rosales can’t start, that opens up any number of possibilities. Mario Martínez, Steve Zakuani and Andy Rose are just three of the players who could be inserted into the starting lineup, with each player meaning something different for Schmid's potential tactics.
Of course, lineup instability is something this year’s Sounders have considerable experience with.
“We’ve played countless formations and guys have played in different positions all year,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “Whether or not he plays, whoever plays there will fill in admirably. I have no doubt or questions in my teammates’ abilities.
“We figure it out, we watch video and we get after it. We play one style and as long as everyone is on the same page they can implement their certain flare in that position. Regardless of who’s in there, I think any player we have is capable of stepping in and filling anybody’s role.”