Brian Schmetzer on Sounders squad rotation vs. NYCFC: "It didn't work"

There was a lot to juggle for Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer for the team’s midweek tilt against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium in terms of lineup choices.

And following the 3-0 defeat Wednesday night in which the Rave Green conceded three times after halftime, Schmetzer said he dropped the ball with his squad rotation.

"I can look at it now and say it didn't work," Schmetzer said. "It worked in the first 45 minutes ... We decided to go with what we did. I accept the responsibility of my decisions. It didn't work tonight, but we'll keep after it.”

The combination of short turnaround, a cross-country flight, another match coming Saturday at Columbus (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada) and players reintegrating from International duty and injury, Schmetzer made five changes to the side that pulled out a dramatic Cascadia Cup victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on the weekend.

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Xavier Arreaga returned from Copa America duty to partner alongside Kim Kee-hee in central defense, pushing Saad Abdul-Salaam to right back against his former club with Kelvin Leerdam, who scored the stoppage-time winner against Vancouver, coming off the bench in the second half..

Nouhou Tolo started at left back for Brad Smith and Alex Roldan and Jordy Delem played as double the No. 6s in place of Gustav Svensson and 16-year-old Danny Leyva, who earned his first MLS start against the Whitecaps.

Recently signed from the Tacoma Defiance, Justin Dhillon, who had a goal called back for offside in the first half, made his second consecutive start. He was again spelled by Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, the 17-year-old who made his second appearance off the bench.

“It was tough sledding for Dhillon. It was his second game in four days and a higher tempo and everything,” Schmetzer said. “And getting some guys minutes that hadn't played in a while. It was tough sledding for those guys. As always, I appreciated their effort. I thought with a little luck in the first half we get the first goal and maybe things are different."

Schmetzer said the last time he played Svensson three times in a week, the Swedish international tweaked his hamstring.

It was Delem’s first start since returning from playing in the Gold Cup with Martinique. Coming off a hamstring injury, Victor Rodriguez was one of three subs utilized in the second half, playing the final 35 minutes.

Nico Lodeiro and Roman Torres both also returned from international duty, with Torres meeting up with the team in New York after Panama’s Gold Cup quarterfinal defeat in Philadelphia Sunday. Lodeiro rejoined on Wednesday morning after flying 15 hours in his return from Copa America with Uruguay.

Handwalla Bwana, who played 10 minutes off the bench against the Whitecaps, stayed back in Seattle to deal with what Schmetzer called a “personal, family issue.”

“He has to help his family, so we’ll give you more information on that as needed,” Schmetzer said. “But it’s a personal situation with his family that he’s helping out with.”

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