The Sounders practiced out at Starfire today, where the starters from Friday’s game had a light regeneration session and the reserves put in a full day.
Eddie Johnson was able to participate in warmups and a few drills with the group before continuing his workout on the side (pictured). Mauro Rosales, who appeared to suffer a slight knock at the end of Friday’s game, also got through work with the starters.
Here are some more notes:
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— Johnson underwent a fitness test before Friday’s game to determine if he would available for the first leg against Real Salt Lake. So was he close? “He was close, yeah,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “If it would’ve been the second leg, and it was the same situation, then we definitely would’ve put him on the 18. But we decided with it being the first leg, we would just wait that little bit.”
— Johnson is expected to return to full training Monday, and Schmid added that Rosales is “fine.” Defenders Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) and Patrick Ianni (calf) continue to improve but are still limited. Midfielder Andy Rose (adductor) looked to be back in full training, but we didn’t get an update on him.
— We chatted with Christian Tiffert, as well, the Sounder who was involved in the collision with RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Here’s what Tiffert remembers from the play that broke Rimando’s nose and cut his face. “I think it was there were three guys — two from Salt Lake, and I’m in the middle,” Tiffert said. “I think somebody pushed me against the goalkeeper. I talked to (Rimando) after the game and he knows that it was not my fault.”
— Schmid said he stayed up until 2:30 a.m. watching Friday’s game and the takeaways were mainly the same: Rimando had a great game, the Sounders played well enough to create a number of chances, the effort was good offensively and defensively. “It was one of those days where it just didn’t go in,” the coach said, “but it wasn’t a situation where a lack of trying or poor play put us into that position.”
— Regarding a potential Johnson return, Schmid noted that against RSL there is usually space out wide against a compact midfield, which in turn results in a lot of crosses. Having arguably the league’s best target in the air (Johnson’s nine headed goals were an MLS record since the stat has been recorded) would be significant. Johnson’s speed means RSL might avoid playing a high line defensively, which would open up more space in midfield.
— Schmid reiterated how close the teams were in the series and how his team remains confident going to RSL: “It might be a series that gets decided by one goal at the end of the day.”
— Might RSL play more offensively at home? Schmid thinks they might, which might give Seattle some chances to counter: “I think the first 20 minutes are going to be very important.”
— Regarding Fredy Montero being scoreless in 600+ playoff minutes, Schmid noted that RSL was able to key more on him with Johnson out, but “now the question is, ‘Does he have to do a little bit more at times?’ That’s only a question that he can answer at the end of the day. I think Fredy’s effort and his desire to help the team is there; he’s just a little bit snakebit.”
— At one point Schmid interrupted one of his own answers when the Sounders FC U-18s scored against Vancouver. “Got ’em. 2-0,” he said.
— Lastly, when asked if the team would practice penalty kicks due to the possibility of a shootout in Thursday’s second leg, Schmid indicated they would: “Hopefully it’ll be better than in Kansas City, where we couldn’t hit penalties before the game because we didn’t know who was watching.”