Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid is generally great with the media.
He’s accessible and friendly. He has a soccer background stretching back decades and loves to recall stories to illustrate his answers. He tolerates poorly conceived questions and has the patience to engage with the redundant ones that appear and reappear throughout the week.
But things change a bit when the topic is his team’s injuries. There, Schmid seems to believe that loose lips sink ships. And as a guy paid to keep his team afloat, he can turn tight-lipped.
That was the case late this week when starting centerback Chad Marshall missed the final two days of training before the Saturday night match with the league-leading Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field.
Schmid used fewer than 50 words in response to three questions on Marshall’s status.
He began: “We kept Marshall inside, but he’s also feeling much, much better.”
That drew the obvious follow-up: Better from what?
“He just felt a little bit of something at the beginning of the Wednesday practice, so we pulled him out very early,” Schmid said. “But I talked to him this morning and he said he feels really good.”
Then he was asked if there was a specific body part: “No.”
On Friday, Schmid gave this update: “Again we kept him inside today, so he’s questionable for tomorrow, but we’ll see. It’s not like he missed much, and we’d rather be safe than sorry at the end of the day.”
Reporters tried again on the nature of the injury. “He felt a little bit of muscle soreness, tightness, and pulled himself out before anything pulled or strained,” Schmid said. “So now, we’re just trying to evaluate.”
So, more words, even some details, but still no body part.
That mystery was finally lifted Friday afternoon when the Major League Soccer injury report listed Marshall as questionable with a right hamstring strain.
Which raises one more question: Why the mystery?
Certainly, coaches like knowing things that the opposing coach doesn’t know. And it seems obvious that the availability or absence of strikers such as Clint Dempsey or Jordan Morris could affect Colorado coach Pablo Mastroeni’s game plan.
But would that game plan change if Mastroeni knew Marshall was out and Zach Scott would start in his place?
“It might, it might not,” Schmid said. “The thing is, you’re always looking and seeing if you can put together the pieces as to which pieces come together. But certainly every player has different traits and abilities, so that affects sometimes how you’re going to play or how you’re not going to play.”
Marshall has started all 10 games and played all 900 minutes of this season. Scott has appeared in four games and started three when Brad Evans was unavailable.
How do they differ?
“Obviously, Marshall is a bigger guy, so he wins more aerial duels,” Schmid said. “Zach is a little more aggressive defensively. He’s probably a little louder, a little more vocal, as well.”
Any defensive change has the potential to loom large Saturday, when every goal — any goal — projects as crucial. Colorado has allowed a league-low nine goals over its 12 games, while the Sounders have scored 10 goals over 13 games — more than only the Chicago Fire.
“You’re always trying to get better in the attack, especially when you’re not scoring as many as a team as you would like to,” Dempsey said. “We’re just trying to find the open guys in the box when we get the ball out wide, and try to link up better and get on the same page as everybody to try to create more opportunities and get goals.”
SEATTLE SOUNDERS (4-5-1; 13 POINTS) VS. COLORADO RAPIDS (7-2-3; 24 POINTS)
7 p.m., CenturyLink Field.
TV: JOEtv. Radio: 97.3-FM.
Head to head: The Sounders lead 13-4-2 overall and 8-1-1 in Seattle. However, Colorado has won the past two meetings: 1-0 in Seattle last season, and 3-1 in Colorado last month. This is the final meeting of the regular season.
Notes: The Rapids lead Major League Soccer in points and points per game. The Sounders are eighth in the Western Conference, four points below the playoff red line. … Colorado has allowed the fewest goals in MLS (nine) and the Sounders have scored the second-fewest (10). … The Rapids are unbeaten in their past seven matches including their past three road games. … Seattle is 4-2 at home. Colorado is 1-2-3 away. … Jermaine Jones and Luis Solignac lead Colorado with three goals apiece. Shkelzen Gashi and former Sounder Marco Pappa lead with three assists. Pappa is out with a knee sprain. … Former Sounders Michael Azira and Marc Burch also are on the Colorado roster. … For Seattle, Jordan Morris leads with four goals. His next goal will establish a Sounders’ rookie record. Andreas Ivanschitz has three assists. … Seattle designated player Nelson Valdez (calf) is out. Centerback Chad Marshall (hamstring) is questionable. … The assigned referee is Ismail Elfath.
Quote: “It’s the best team in the league right now, so it’s a challenge for us. It’s also an opportunity. It’s a Western Conference foe. Now we know what they’re going to bring: They’re going to bring power, good finishing. It’s a fluid team and they’re playing extremely confident, so we have to be on our A game.” — Seattle captain Brad Evans on the Sounders’ second meeting with Colorado in a month.
Next: At New England Revolution, 4:30 p.m. May 28.
Don Ruiz: firstname.lastname@example.org