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Sports >  Seattle Sounders

Brian Schmetzer, Sounders face roster challenge as more players depart for international duty

By Jayda Evans Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Sounders FC coach Brian Schmetzer would like to focus on tactics for another two-match week that begins Sunday with a road game against the Colorado Rapids.

It’s just hard to do that when the list of available players keeps shrinking.

“It’s an issue,” Schmetzer said Friday after training at Starfire Sports, which marked his first in-person session with media since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. “It’s going to come up. You get two days of rest in between (the matches) and then you’ve got a little bit of a break and a horrible week. It’s going to affect us.”

Seattle will lose fill-in captain Cristian Roldan and right wingback Alex Roldan to national team call-ups this week.

The brothers are in the unique position of playing for different countries in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. Cristian will represent the U.S. men’s national team, earning his first cap in 2017.

Alex will make his international debut with El Salvador. The California native qualified because of his mother’s heritage and having never played at any level for the U.S.

Cristian will depart after Sunday’s match to join the USMNT. The Sounders were able to work with El Salvador to have Alex remain through Seattle’s home match against the Houston Dynamo.

Their return would likely be no sooner than July 18 or later than Aug. 15, depending on how far their teams advance.

MLS is taking a hiatus from Friday to July 16 to accommodate the opening stages of the Gold Cup. The Sounders return, however, to play five matches in a span of 18 days.

The Roldans join preferred starting center back Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) as players on international duty, the latter competing in the Copa America. Center back Nouhou (adductor), goalkeeper Stefan Frei (knee), midfielder Nico Lodeiro (knee), and forward Jordan Morris (knee) are out due to injuries while top reserve defender Jordy Delem suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Schmetzer and his staff experienced 11 missing players during the 2019 MLS Cup championship run. This season they haven’t had the healthy depth to field a full 20-player, game-day roster. The absences prompted the coach to direct media to talk to general manager Garth Lagerwey about roster holes.

“We’re going to sign some players,” Schmetzer said of the secondary transfer window that opens Wednesday.

The Sounders (7-0-4) remain atop the league with a franchise-record 11-match unbeaten streak. But Schmetzer called Colorado (5-3-1) a “dark horse,” which could be a problem without backup.

Wiley retires

Longtime Sounders executive Bart Wiley announced his retirement.

Wiley joined the club in 2001, helping to transition it from the USL to MLS in 2009.

As part of the leadership team, Wiley helped the Sounders consistently rank in the top 40 globally for average attendance.

Welcome back

Seattle will completely open up Lumen Field to fans – without any restrictions – beginning Wednesday. It’s a first since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

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