While one South American the Seattle Sounders signed this offseason remains doubtful with an injury, another who was on the club's radar will dress in an opposing jersey on Tuesday, Brian Schmetzer revealed Monday in a conference call.
Ahead of the morning tilt against Chicago Fire FC (9 am ET | ESPN, TSN), the Sounders coach was doubtful Designated Player acquisition Joao Paulo would return from a quad ailment that kept him out of Seattle's midfield in their MLS is Back Tournament opener against the San Jose Earthquakes.
"Probably won’t feature in this game, either," Schmetzer said of Joao Paulo who joined the club from Brazil's Botafogo at the end of January. "TBD for Vancouver (on Sunday)."
Joao Paulo had started the club's first two games before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season in early March, going all 180 minutes and taking the corner kick that led to the Jordan Morris' winning header in a 2-1 victory over the Fire at CenturyLink Field back in Week 1.
However, Schmetzer expects this rematch to have a considerably different dynamic. For starters, the Fire will have the services of Gaston Gimenez, who made his debut for Chicago in Week 2 after signing his own DP deal in late February.
"I think you’re going to see a different team," Schmetzer said. "We actually scouted Gimenez ... down in Argentina this winter, and he is a tremendous player. They have a good squad. Now you would say that cohesion is certainly a vital part of the team sport. And have they had their full compliment of players long enough to find any cohesion to balance out with the energy of this is their first game? We’ll see what we get."
There's also the oddity of the schedule that sees Seattle play its second Group B game while Chicago plays its first, after Nashville being withdrawn from the tournament led the Fire to be shipped out of Group A.
After an intriguing but exhausting scoreless opener against the man-marking Quakes, Schmetzer acknowledged it may be a challenge to match Chicago's intensity, particularly early.
"The short rest maybe helps them," he said. "But you know, I’m very confident our team has always had mental discipline and has been strong enough in adverse situations to pull out points, win games, come back from behind."