As the Seattle Sounders attempt to get back into playoff contention, their quest could be undermined by the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.
The Seattle Sounders have an enviable record of making the playoffs every season, since entering the league in 2009. This year, that proud accomplishment is under serious threat, with the team currently sitting second bottom in the Western Conference.
A disastrous run of eight losses and just two wins in 11 games led to Sigi Schmid leaving the club on mutual terms near the end of July. While the 63-year old had been in charge for the entirety of the Sounders’ time in MLS, it was a necessary move.
However, all hope is not lost, with fans gaining encouragement from the three games since Schmid’s departure. With two wins and a tie, they have crept to within five points of a playoff position, and still have games in hand on the majority of teams above them.
More from Seattle Sounders
- Sounders’ struggles continue in loss to Sacramento
- Sounders: Has Clint Dempsey Played his Final Game for USMNT?
- Sounders Fight to Draw Against Former Coach
- Gold Cup Final Pits USMNT Against Unlikely Foe
- How International Duty Sparked Sounders Midfielder Cristian Roldan
A significant factor behind the recent resurgence has been the addition of Nicolas Lodeiro. The midfielder has been a revelation since coming to Seattle, with a trio of assists and a goal in his three appearances.
Certainly, the designated player has boosted the flagging fortunes of a team desperately in need of some inspiration. Cristian Roldan put it best, when describing the Lodeiro effect to The Seattle Times and the rest of the media, earlier this week.
Roldan said: “His quality of play that he brings is really good, if not the best in MLS, but what he brings is energy. I think everybody was motivated to play with him.
“Everybody was happy to have him here. You see it from Day 1…he’s a guy that wants to be here.”
Unfortunately for the Sounders, in line with how things have gone for them this season, a dark cloud is looming overhead. Lodeiro has been named to Uruguay’s provisional roster for their two World Cup qualifiers next month, which take place on September 1st and 6th.
The 27-year old and the rest of the Uruguayan team are set to meet up just one day after the Sounders crucial clash with the Portland Timbers. As such, his status for the game with Seattle’s Cascadian rivals is currently unclear.
Speaking to Matt Pentz of The Seattle Times and the rest of the media, interim coach Brian Schmetzer said: “(It) could be a little tricky. We’re working on it – we’re obviously going to do whatever we can to keep him around.”
Of course, the World Cup qualifiers could also affect the availability of other key members of the Sounders team, including the likes of Clint Dempsey and potentially Jordan Morris.
More from Emerald City Swagger
- Seattle Seahawks: To rest or not to rest, that is the question
- Washington State Football: What you need to know for 2018 Alamo Bowl
- Washington Basketball: 3 takeaways from Huskies win over Sacramento St.
- Seattle Seahawks: 12s still waiting to exhale
- Seattle Seahawks: 4 Takeaways from 26-23 Loss to the 49ers
On the flip side, it is worth noting Seattle will likely only be without Lodeiro and company for one game at the most. The Sounders will have a bye-week during the World Cup qualifiers, and their next game is not scheduled until September 10th.
As such, in reality the Sounders and their fans have plenty of reason to be optimistic. The only real concern will be if any of their players — especially Loderio — are injured while away on international duty.
First things first though, the Sounders have two games to contend with, before any decision is made in respect of anyone set to go on international duty. Lose both of those contests, and it likely won’t matter if Loderio is available for the August 28th clash with Portland or not.
Are you concerned at all about Loderio potentially missing the August 28th clash with the Timbers? In the grander scheme of things, how confident are you that the Sounders will qualify for the playoffs? Let us know in the comments section below.