Part by necessity and part by design, Seattle Sounders FC got to take its depth out for a test drive last weekend.
The absence of five starters from the first team Saturday meant the opportunity for five reserves to step up into the first 11 in the scoreless draw at FC Dallas. Then on Sunday, the Sounders 2 USL team took the pitch for a second time, rolling to a 4-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps 2 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
“That all puts pressure that people have to perform — and if not, there’s other people we can turn to,” coach Sigi Schmid said Monday as both teams returned to training. “I think competition is always good.”
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One night of misfires just takes its place against the reality of 52 goals over 10 MLS seasons. But with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins out, someone had to step up; and when Barrett had at least two solid chances, he put neither on goal. The clangs echoed louder because either could have been the difference between drawing or winning.
After the match, Schmid emphasized how little sometimes separates hero from goat. “He’ll be the first one to say that he’s got to finish one of those,” Schmid said. “If we score on one of those, then we’re walking away with three points.”
•Central defender Brad Evans: Up.
Whatever Barrett might have felt walking off the pitch, Evans can relate. He had accepted a similar share of blame after the Sounders’ 3-2 home loss to San Jose, where he played a part in all three surrendered goals. Yet Evans bounced back nicely at Dallas, where the Sounders not only got a shutout, but allowed no shots on goal.
•Central defender Zach Scott: Up.
The Sounders’ decision to shift Evans to central defense alongside Chad Marshall left Scott as odd man out in the back so far this season. That is, until Saturday, when Marshall was unavailable with a neck injury, and Scott reminded everyone just how dependable he was down the stretch last season.
•Midfielders Cristian Roldan and Aaron Kovar: Flat.
Though young, both midfielders were probably less than full strength Saturday after going 90 minutes Tuesday against Tijuana. Schmid was complimentary to both, seeming to favor Seattle native Kovar’s aggressiveness over former Washington Huskies star Roldan’s caution. Still, there are worse traits in a rookie than caution.
•Midfielder Andy Rose: Up.
Beginning his fourth season, Rose isn’t exactly a kid anymore. But Saturday he assumed more of an attacking role than usual and made a late run that might have been the Sounders’ best scoring chance.
•Forward Victor Mansaray: Up.
Rose’s big chance started with an excellent pass by Mansaray. And against Tijuana, the 18-year-old from Fife held his ground when the Xolos tried to muscle him off his spot in front of their goal.
•S2 forward Darwin Jones: Up.
No surprise that Jones can score — whether he makes it to the first team seems to hinge more on the mental side of the game. Still, a hat trick is a hat trick. “Anytime you do that, it’s a great game,” Schmid said. “So you’ve just got to continue to build on that.”