Figuring out how to get a result on short rest is just one of the abilities any MLS Cup champion needs.
It’s a good thing the Seattle Sounders have plenty of experience with that. The first leg of the Western Conference finals against the LA Galaxy on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) will mark the 13th time this season the Sounders have played a competitive match on three days of rest or fewer. They’ve gone 6-3-3 in those matches.
“Sometimes when things are hectic you just get into a roll, you keep rolling forward and you keep going,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said during a Saturday teleconference. “It’s just another day, let’s move on. The important thing is to not be overly focused on it and take what comes at you and digest it and turn it into a positive.”
Whether or not he’s choosing to complain about it, Schmid did admit the situation was not ideal. The Sounders had hoped to be able to fly straight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles following Thursday’s game. But there were no commercial flights available that could accommodate their numbers, forcing the Sounders to fly back to Seattle first.
That gave the Sounders a chance to sleep in their own beds, but also meant they would have to fly out around noon on Saturday and train in Southern California later in the day.
How all of that will affect lineup decisions is not entirely clear, especially considering there will be a second leg no matter what.
Schmid said Eddie Johnson came through his 90-minute performance on Thursday with no issues, but said further evaluation is needed before he knows how much his leading scorer can play in this game. He also said Leo González and Mauro Rosales, who both missed Thursday’s game, are making progress but are not yet fully fit.
“Rosales is certainly better and we’re still holding out some hope there,” Schmid said. “We know now we’re in the first game of two with him, so we’re going to be a little more cautious because we think by next weekend he should be fully ready.”
If Rosales can’t play, that will likely mean another start for Mario Martínez. The Honduran scored a spectacular game-winner in his first-ever MLS start, against Real Salt Lake.
What would happen if González can’t play is a bit more unknown. There’s a possibility Marc Burch, who has started in González’s place for the last five games, will be suspended after TV cameras caught him using a homophobic slur on Thursday.
There’s some hope that Burch’s forthright apology will earn him some leniency.
“I think what he did by doing that he deserves a lot of respect and recognition from everybody,” Schmid said. “It would have been very easy to not say anything, but he felt it was very important to come forward about it. He felt he had made an error and he wanted to express it that way.”