Sounders FC practiced with unusual lineup combinations Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
And that’s saying something, because at this stage of the MLS regular season, the Sounders have no usual lineup.
Coach Sigi Schmid has used four different starting combinations in the first four games. And there is every indication that the experimentation will continue as the club tries again for its first win Saturday, when the Chicago Fire visits Qwest Field.
“You’ve seen five or six guys rotate for a few spots,” technical director Chris Henderson said Tuesday while watching training. “I think it’s looking at who’s in the best form, the best combinations, too. And it’s not always only the midfielders, but how the wide midfielder works with the wide back, and those kinds of tandems together.”
Despite their 0-2-2 record, the Sounders seem to have logjams of talent on every line. O’Brian White and Mauro Rosales were the forwards last week at San Jose, and each contributed: White scored his first goal as a Sounder, and Rosales got his first assist.
However, someone is certain to move to the bench or another position when Fredy Montero returns from his wrist injury. Meanwhile, Nate Jaqua also is rounding into shape and appears ready for more minutes or perhaps a starting assignment.
“I can play a few positions,” Rosales said. “It was not my real position that I played in the last game. Nate, O’Brian, Montero – all the guys that are playing forwards, like striker, are very good.”
If Rosales moves back to midfield, then that would displace someone from the group that started Saturday: Erik Friberg, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans or Steve Zakuani.
“Evans gave us what Evans gives you,” Schmid said. “He has played two games and got a goal. every fourth, fifth, sixth game he’s going to get a goal. So that helps him definitely and makes him effective. I thought we could have held the ball a little bit better at times, and it wasn’t really the fault of Ozzie or the fault of Evans. It was a combination of everyone all together – Flaco (Alvaro Fernandez) in the second half, Evans, Ozzie, Zakuani – the ball didn’t flow. That’s something we will talk about and something we will get better at.”
On Tuesday, Schmid also looked at different combinations along the back line, with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni and Jeff Parke rotating in the middle spots.
Henderson said that is typical of clubs still seeking answers early in the season.
“I think you see it with all the teams that end up going on a run and doing well,” he said. “They find that lineup that works and you stick with it. Sometimes it takes teams a little longer to find that winning lineup.”
Henderson said the club is always looking to upgrade its personnel, and he sounded especially interested in adding a goal-scorer. Montero watched practice with a cast on his right wrist. He is scheduled to be re-examined by a surgeon today. Zakuani was named to the MLS team of the week. He picked up an assist in the Sounders’ 2-2 draw with the Earthquakes.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org