Sounders finally able to field full-strength team at Vancouver
The return of Mauro Rosales and Eddie Johnson means that Sounders FC will be able to field all of its first-team starters for the first time in more than a month.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle @ Vancouver,
6 p.m., NBC Sports
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TUKWILA — More than a month has passed since Sounders FC played at full strength.
That game? A 6-2 road victory on Aug. 25 against Chivas USA, a performance that matched franchise records in goals scored and margin of victory.
Since then? Seattle has gone 1-1-2 in MLS without being able to field all its regular starters.
Notable absences this month have been midfielder Mauro Rosales, who missed the past three games with a thigh injury, and forward Eddie Johnson, who sat out a game to rest a minor hip/groin injury and was suspended for last week's clash with San Jose due to yellow card accumulation.
The good news? Both are set to return for Saturday's 6 p.m. rivalry game in Vancouver, and it should be no surprise that coach Sigi Schmid is excited to have a full complement of weapons available.
"To be able to have Eddie Johnson up front with his speed presents a different dynamic, although Sammy (Ochoa) played very well," Schmid said. "To have Mauro's creativity on the flank takes a little bit of the burden off of (Christian) Tiffert, as well. So that just makes us overall a more well-rounded team, a more dangerous team."
This weekend could mark just the second time the Sounders start their four offensive centerpieces: Rosales, Tiffert, Fredy Montero — Seattle's three designated players — and Johnson, the team's leading scorer.
"They put together this team for a reason," said defender Marc Burch, "and there haven't been that many games where everyone's been out there that (Schmid) wants out there. Now we're starting to get there right before the playoffs. Hopefully our play will jell and we can take it into the playoffs and be in full stride when we get there."
The return of Rosales, whose 13 assists were the most in MLS at the time of his injury, will be especially welcome. The Sounders average 1.83 goals per game when he plays compared to 1.14 when he doesn't, according to the team website.
"I was almost ready for the last game, but we (waited) one more week to be 100-percent fit," Rosales said. "It's something that I needed — to be with the ball and playing with them and getting my timing again. It's great. I feel good."
• Schmid said new goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann is still working on his fitness and will need some more time before he's a lineup consideration.
"For him right now, there are good days and bad days," Schmid said. "There are days where the body feels great and days where the body feels sore. He's right now in preseason, so you have to let him get three weeks under his belt, at least, and then you can start looking at things."
• The Sounders have scored four goals against Vancouver this season, two apiece from the team's star forwards Johnson and Montero.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.