This year, as Seattle gear up for next Saturday’s much-anticipated rematch with Toronto FC at BMO Field (4 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás, TSN, TVAS), the story is a bit different.
Seattle have dealt with injuries once again this postseason, most notably to captain Ozzie Alonso, second-year forward Jordan Morris and goalkeeper Stefan Frei. But ahead of this season’s MLS Cup on Dec. 9, the Sounders find themselves about as close to full-strength as they have been all season.
Alonso is the only one of the aforementioned injured trifecta whose status for MLS Cup appears to be in doubt. Morris made his return to the field in Seattle’s 3-0 blowout of the Houston Dynamo in Leg 2 of the Western Conference Championship after being sidelined for nearly three months due to a hamstring injury – a game where Frei started and played all 90 minutes.
Aside from the normal bumps and bruises that come with a 10-month season, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said he thinks his men are good to go.
“The physical prep is paramount now because the style of our game isn’t going to change,” Schmetzer said on Sunday. “[That’s] what we’re concerned about. Making sure guys with little aches and pains, the guys who need a couple extra fitness runs, they get that.”
Speaking with reporters on Sunday at Starfire Sports Complex, Morris said he’s chomping at the bit to get back at it following the lengthy layoff.
“It was tough, I think mentally that’s the toughest part just sitting up there watching games and wanting to be on the field and help anyway that I could,” Morris said. “But [the team] obviously did amazing and brought us to the final and hopefully I can come in and try and make an impact in that game.”
If Morris does feature in MLS Cup, it will almost certainly be in a sparkplug substitute-type role. And while that’s a change from what he’s used to, he said he’ll readily embrace that opportunity should it come.
“I’m obviously totally fine with that. I spent three months out so I’m trying to get my fitness back right now,” Morris said. “That’s obviously going to be a very intense game. So, hopefully, if that is my role, just come in and do the best that I can and work as hard as I can for as long as I’m out there and try and make an impact in the game. Because sometimes that can be a little bit of a spark, a sub coming off the bench in a game like that where both teams maybe tire out a little bit towards the end.”