Here are some notes from Monday’s practice out at Starfire:
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— It was a light day overall, as most players were either coming off Saturday’s MLS game or Sunday’s reserve game in Vancouver.
— There were some injuries picked up along the way, though. Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Andy Rose are expected to be out 1-2 weeks with hamstring strains suffered Sunday. Schmid called them “day to day” but neither were at training. Elsewhere, midfielder Alex Caskey might need surgery on a troublesome ankle that he’s been trying to play through. Philip Lund was also inactive, but we didn’t get an update on his status.
— The expectation is that the injuries won’t be long term, as even Caskey’s surgery would be minor (a “clean out” as Schmid put it) and keep him out a couple weeks. “He’s been having some ankle issues and it started to get better,” the coach added. “This weekend was sort of the test — ‘Is it really getting better or not?’ — and he struggled with it in the game, so we’ll probably make a decision early this week.”
— Remember, goalkeeper Josh Ford (knee surgery) and midfielder Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery) are still on the mend.
— There was some good news, as midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is expected to be full-in for Tuesday’s practice and then available Saturday in San Jose. He’s missed four games with a quad strain, and the Sounders have allowed multiple goals in three of those.
— Defender DeAndre Yedlin continues to improve the strength and range of motion in his shoulder. The concern Saturday was that the shoulder, which was separated on duty at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, would bother him beyond 60 minutes. That’s why he came off the bench.
— Doug Herrick is still around as a league goalkeeper, and he could be Seattle’s backup in San Jose, but in the MLS pool, any team can put on a claim on him if they need. “As we get closer to the weekend, we’ll see what we do,” Schmid said of the backup GK situation.
— Schmid has long stuck by a belief that a 1.5 points-per-game average will get a team into the playoffs. He was asked if he still feels that way this year as the Sounders are below the playoff line at 1.5: “I think at the end of the day it will be, because you still have to play each other, so not everybody can keep rolling forward with the same amount of points. From early in the season, where Dallas was when they came in here to play us, I said Dallas might fall back to the pack, which they’ve started to do at this stage. Portland took a loss this weekend, as well. I know they played shorthanded with the red card, but they certainly miss a key element to their game when Will Johnson is not there. So we’ll just see how these next weekend’s games go. For us, we’re obviously disappointed because we wanted to get more out of Vancouver. Again, looking at the game and editing the game, I thought we did a good job of creating chances, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get goals. So we have to go down to San Jose and get some goals and take the victories in the remaining games this month if we can.”
— Some other concerns from Saturday were Obafemi Martins dropping too deep into midfield and not challenging well enough on headers and loose balls in midfield.
— Schmid said Shalrie Joseph had another good performance on the heels of a good showing Wednesday against D.C. United: “I thought his energy was up. When his energy level is up, he’s on the ball more, and we all know he can do good things when he’s on the ball. So as long as he brings that energy, then he gets on the ball, then he helps our team.”
— And the coach’s thoughts on the ever-growing Martins-Johnson partnership up top? “I think it’s just a matter of continuing to work and continuing to build that understanding. Oba took one shot where Eddie made a run, and he maybe could’ve slipped Eddie in, so there was that one. There were also a couple times where they combined off each other. That’s going to take a little bit of time, and same thing trying to get Lamar comfortable coming from the wing. But even Lamar coming from the wing had three really good looks on goal as a winger. If you can get your winger three really good looks on goal like he had, I think that’s a good place to be. We just have to continue to work and eventually it will come together.”
— There was a group of young fans visiting practice today and Zakuani surprised one lucky boy with his cleats from training. That was a moment that won’t soon be forgotten by those kids.
— Yedlin is the young guy in the group at 19 years old. But he won’t be a teenager Tuesday, his 20th birthday. Still far from an old man, though. “He said he’s going to dye his hair gray,” joked Schmid.
— Lastly, it’s probably no surprise that Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who made a career-high seven saves against the Sounders, was named MLS Player of the Week.