Sigi Schmid won’t need to fill out a meaningful starting lineup for another eight days.
So, as of now there is no need to reveal the first 11 he might send onto the pitch when Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson, David Estrada, Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez are all healthy at the same time.
“What I always find is whenever you start looking into that crystal ball and start looking ahead, something starts to change, and you have to look at it again,” Schmid said Thursday.
“For me to come here and say, ‘Well, I’m looking at it this way,’ and a player reads it, and then three days later somebody gets hurt and now you’re going to that guy and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I need you back in here.’ So for me, we’ll take it as it comes, and when it gets to the point that we’re playing that game we’ll see who’s healthy and see what’s the best selection.”
Johnson’s return to fitness for the game last week against Colorado appeared to create a logjam at forward, where Montero is an unchallenged starter and Estrada seemed too sizzling to sit. But as it worked out, Schmid didn’t have to choose among them because injuries to Rosales and Fernandez allowed him to slide Estrada back to midfield.
The strategy worked well enough for a 1-0 home win – although Montero remained without a goal for the season and Estrada went his third consecutive game without scoring.
Johnson, meanwhile, lasted 65 minutes in his first start as a Sounder before being replaced by Sammy Ochoa.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” Johnson said. “I knew from a fitness standpoint I couldn’t go 90 minutes, but physically I feel like I’m almost 100 percent. To get out there and work hard and just try to cause trouble for their back four, I thought as far as my return coming back and my hip flexor standing up, I thought it was a good 65 minutes where I wasn’t sore afterwards or two days of three days afterward. That’s progress with me going forward.”
Without a game this weekend, Schmid gave most of his roster three days away from training. However, Johnson was told to report on two of those days to continue to work on his fitness.
“I think the ... second week of May is probably when we’ll see Eddie at his best,” Schmid said. “But as long as he continues to be able to train, his fitness is coming; and I think his timing and his game intuitions and fitness will come at that point.”
In addition to fitness, Schmid also feels Johnson will improve in his coordination alongside Montero.
Once that happens, he sees very good things happening.
“As I said, Eddie’s not sharp right now (and) Fredy’s probably pressing a little bit: Goal-scorers, when they don’t score, they start to press a little bit,” Schmid said.
“But I talked to Fredy today. He knows what my thoughts are: He’ll be fine. And Eddie will be fine. I think by the end of the year, I’m still convinced that they’re going to be one of the most dangerous combinations in this league.”
Rosales (knee) and defender Adam Johansson (hamstring) took part in full drills Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. Fernandez (quadriceps) was held out of some work, but still did more than Schmid had expected. ... Sounders will play a 60-minute training game against the University of Washington on Saturday. Schmid said he plans to go primarily with his starters for that game, to keep them in rhythm during this bye week. ... The Sounders Reserves will play Monday at Chivas USA, and Schmid said midfielder Steve Zakuani could make his first Reserve League appearance in that one.
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