SEATTLE — Just as the Seattle Sounders have essentially finalized their roster, international call-ups will leave them short-handed for at least another week.
In addition to missing Mario Martínez (Honduras) and the recently signed Obafemi Martins (Nigeria), it was formally announced on Monday that Eddie Johnson had been named to the United States roster for a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The loss of those three leaves Seattle without some of their better attacking talents at a time when the players are still trying to gain chemistry with one another.
“It’s frustrating,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers. “It just delays it another week because we can’t train together. We need some time to train together. Hopefully once we get them all together, we can implement that.”
The Sounders roster has been a work in progress since the end of last season. Among the departed are two Designated Players and their reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
With Martins’ signing late last week, the Sounders at least know they have all the pieces to a rather complicated puzzle. How they fit in, though, is still being determined.
Martins will surely be a starter once he’s integrated into the team, but that will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the lineup and likely force one of Martínez, Steve Zakuani or Mauro Rosales to the bench. It’s also unclear how Shalrie Joseph will fit in. The veteran defensive midfielder has yet to make the gameday 18 or even fully participate in training since being acquired in a trade from Chivas USA.
Before those issues are answered, the Sounders will attempt to win their first game of the season when they visit the San Jose Earthquakes this Saturday and other players will have to step up to make for the losses of those on international duty.
“We know we’re going to miss some players for some important games, but you know that going into the season,” Zakuani said. “When you play at this club, a lot of guys are international players and come and go. That’s why the management builds a strong team to cover those kind of absences.
“The guys that stay back have to stand up and be counted next weekend and after. It takes an entire squad to get it done over the course of the season. Guys who come in have to do their job. It’s part of our job, part of our team.”