After a day off, the Sounders resumed practice Thursday at a sunny Starfire Sports Campus in Tukwila. The team will take off to Vancouver, B.C, via bus on Friday morning and will hold a training session at B.C. Place in the afternoon. I’ll be making my way there, as well.
Here are some notes from Thursday:
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— You can add defender Leo Gonzalez to the list of injured guys that won’t be available Saturday against the Whitecaps. “Leo is still bothered a little bit by his quad,” said coach Sigi Schmid, “so we’re just trying to build it up. Hopefully he’ll be able to play next week, but I think he’s not going to be ready for Saturday.”
— Also out of action this weekend will be goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip), midfielder Brad Evans (calf) and defender Patrick Ianni (back). Gspurning had started to do a few drills Thursday as they ease his way back into full involvement. Evans also worked the side and Ianni was the least active from what I saw.
— In one interesting note, Saturday might mark the first time we see Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez all in the starting lineup this season. Here’s Schmid on the prospects:
“You like to get excited about things on paper. On paper this looks great. But until you get it out there on the field and see how it works together, do all the moving parts work together? Is this player willing to take on a little bit more of a defensive load because those four are all attacking players? Are they going to pinch in? Is the ball going to move enough that they have to defend less? That’s all stuff that you could only see once you get out there and once you play.
“I think the potential is very, very good. The question at the end of the day is, is the mix going to be the right mix? Is it the right balance between attackers, players and workers? A coach told me a long time ago in every part of the field you need a playmaker, a player and a worker. A playmaker was a guy who could orchestrate the game. The player is a guy who could do a little bit of both, who could play and work. And then there’s a guy in there who said, ‘I’m going to roll up my sleeves and I’m going to work for you guys.’ In the offensive part of the field, you need that same thing. At the end of the day now, when you look at those four — not to take anything away from any of those four — the question is who becomes the worker of those four? I think there’s definitely some players there and some playmakers there for sure, but now you need to make sure you have that balance.”
— A bus ride to a road game will be welcomed this weekend instead of a flight. Schmid has been introduced to TV shows like “Entourage” and “The League” on previous bus trips and is curious to see what’s next. Ultimately, “it’s a lot more comfortable on the bus,” the coach said. “You can just relax. Guys bring their pillows on board. You can bring something to eat and something to drink. They decide what movie to put on. Some guys listen to music. It’s a lot more relaxing than going to the airport and having to go through the stress of flying and getting on a plane and all that.”
— Fernandez chatted about the Cascadia rivalries and said, while very healthy, they didn’t quite compare to the intensity he experienced in South America, where there’s “a lot of attention on it” and “a lot of pressure on the players.” He didn’t mean to diminish the Pacific Northwest derbies, but was just offering an observation when asked to compare.
— Montero scored two goals in Portland and two goals in Vancouver last year. He said it’s important to change your mentality going into those types of games. He’s also hopeful of what the attacking four-some mentioned above can do, but warned they haven’t played much together yet.
— Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was asked if he saw star potential in Vancouver’s Sebastien Le Toux when they were teammates here back in 2009. Through an interpreter, Hurtado answered: “Absolutely. We saw that potential when was here in Seattle — when he started or (in the other) opportunities he had to play. He was a great player in Seattle. When he went to Philadelphia, he had a great run, and now that he’s in Vancouver he continues being a great player. He absolutely had that potential. It’s great that he’s showing what he’s able to do now.”