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Sounders wobble

Sat., July 13, 2013

Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins (9) was injured last week and will be unavailable today. (Associated Press)
Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins (9) was injured last week and will be unavailable today. (Associated Press)

Injuries mount, but Alonso ready for return

TUKWILA, Wash. – The question was simple: Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid was asked how his team’s health was ahead of today’s road game at San Jose.

“OK,” Schmid answered.

A correction followed: “Not OK.”

It was a more accurate response. As many as eight players are expected to be unavailable for Seattle, which takes on the struggling Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m.

Many of those injuries stem from last week’s trip to Vancouver, starting in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Whitecaps. Forward Obafemi Martins was kicked hard in the calf in the second half, a knock he hasn’t been able to recover from this week, and fellow designated player Shalrie Joseph aggravated a calf injury that has been bothersome since his February arrival.

The Sounders’ depth was then devastated in an MLS Reserve League game on Sunday as four players came out unable to practice this week. Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Andy Rose suffered hamstring strains. Midfielder Philip Lund tore a tendon in his foot and midfielder Alex Caskey wasn’t able to shake a lingering ankle injury.

Add in older injuries to goalkeeper Josh Ford (knee surgery) and midfielder Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery), and more than 28 percent of the Sounders roster is injured.

The end result for today is a familiar one.

“It’s a new lineup again, most likely,” said Schmid, who has fielded a different lineup in all 21 games this season, including the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.

All the changes aren’t bad, however.

The trip to San Jose should also see the long-awaited return of midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who has been out four games with a thigh strain. Before that, he had to overcome an adductor strain, and the stats show how much he has been missed.

Seattle hasn’t allowed a goal in the last 467 minutes with Alonso in action. On a broader scale, the team is 59-27-36 when he plays (1.75 points per game) and 7-11-4 when he doesn’t (1.14).

The last 14 goals allowed by the Sounders, dating to March, have come without Alonso on the field.

No wonder he’s a three-time team MVP.

“(It’s been) frustrating being out like almost six weeks,” Alonso said, “but I’m ready to go Saturday, to step on the field and give the best for my team.”

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