Last weekend, an injury created the opportunity for Sounders forward David Estrada, and he took full advantage.
Tonight, when Sounders FC plays its second game of the MLS season, there will be at least one more chance for a reserve to step into the first 11 and make his mark.
This time, the opening will be at midfield, where captain Mauro Rosales will be out because of a knee injury suffered late in Saturday’s season-opening win over Toronto.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid hasn’t said who will fill Rosales’ spot. However, he cited at least three options: Roger Levesque, who replaced Rosales on Saturday; Marc Burch, who started as a defender on Saturday but could move up to midfield; and newcomer Christian Sivebaek, who was the first reserve off the bench Saturday, replacing Alvaro Fernandez in the 65th minute.
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If chosen to replace Rosales, Sivebaek would play on the opposite side of the pitch, which he says would not be an issue.
“Right midfield or left midfield: I feel comfortable on each side,” he said. “I’m not quite 90-minutes fit yet. I need, I think, a couple of games more to reach the fitness that I’m supposed to be in. But I’m getting there. I didn’t play that much in the preseason – I had some small injuries – so I only had a couple of subs. Hopefully, within a month I’ll reach my game fitness.”
Even at that, Sivebaek clocked in as one of the fastest players on the club during fitness drills early in camp.
He also has been a regular standout in training sessions, although he hasn’t been able to dent the regular starting midfield of Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Fernandez.
“The preseason went well,” he said. “I had some good games: scored a couple of goals and made some assists, so I was pretty satisfied with myself . At the start here I haven’t got really a lot of minutes on the field. Last Saturday, I felt a little bit nervous: first big crowd, first time I’ve played for 38,000, so that was new for me.”
Sivebaek was signed during the offseason from FC Midtjylland of the Danish Superliga, where he scored four goals in 63 appearances and 30 starts.
He said the largest crowd he played before in Denmark was about 30,000 at FC Copenhagen.
The difference this time – and perhaps tonight – is that the crowd was cheering for him.
“I had to get used to that,” he said. “It was an amazing, amazing crowd.”
Given the opportunity to start in that Toronto game, Estrada recorded a hat trick in leading Seattle to a 3-1 win and was honored as MLS player of the week.
He is expected to start again tonight, alongside Fredy Montero.
Sounders FC has bought out the contract of forward O’Brian White, 26, who has been unable to play in nearly a year because of blood clots in his leg and resulting surgery. White was acquired from Toronto in November 2010. He scored two goals with two assists in seven starts with the Sounders. He will continue his rehab in Seattle. The Sounders FC Alliance Council announced Thursday that at least 800 tickets will be allocated to Sounders supporters attending road matches in Portland and Vancouver, up from 500 last season. General manager Adrian Hanauer said the club wasn’t ready to announce its Cascadia Cup ticket-allocation plan. Sounders Women has announced the signing of Megan Rapinoe, a University of Portland alum who has played 47 matches and scored 12 goals for the U.S. national team.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-0-0) AT SOUNDERS FC (1-0-0)
7 p.m., CenturyLink Field.
TV: NBCSN. RADIO: 97.3-FM.
CLUB LEADERS: For Houston: goals 1, Andre Hainault and Brad Davis; asssists 1, Adam Moffat; shots 6, Will Bruin; shots on goal 4, Bruin; goals-against average 0, Tally Hall. For Seattle: G 3, David Estrada; A 2, Alvaro Fernandez; S 7, Estrada; SOG 5, Estrada; GGA 1, Michael Gspurning.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The regular-season series is tied 2-2-2. Seattle leads 2-0-1 at home. This is the only meeting of this regular season.
NOTES: Houston has started the season with back-to-back road shutout victories. Going back to last season, the Dynamo has won four straight regular-season road matches, all by shutout. Sounders forward Eddie Johnson (hip) and midfielder Mauro Rosales (knee) are expected to miss the game, and defender Adam Johansson (hamstring) will be a game-time decision. Houston defender Corey Ashe (hamstring) is probable. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall is from Gig Harbor, forward Cam Weaver is from Tacoma, Ching played at Gonzaga and coach Dominic Kinnear played for the 1995 A-League champion Sounders. The game is nationally televised with former Sounders voice Arlo White handling play-by-play. The referee is Baldomero Toledo.
QUOTABLE: “They’re a veteran team: Hainault, (Bobby) Boswell, even (Geoff) Cameron (have) been around a while. Now you have Ching, Brad Davis – they’ve been around a while. Moffat was with me already in Columbus; he’s been around for five years now. There’s a real veteran group there.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the Dynamo.
NEXT: 7 p.m. March 31, San Jose Earthquakes, CenturyLink Field, Ch. 6/16.
Don Ruiz, staff writer