A decision looms for Sounders FC regarding its starting forwards.
Who will line up alongside Fredy Montero: David Estrada or Eddie Johnson?
It could be a difficult choice, but for now it gives no indication of being a divisive one, as Johnson and Estrada have spoken respectfully of each other and are taking team-first attitudes.
Johnson: “David has done an unbelievable job throughout the whole entire preseason, and he’s reaping the benefits of it right now. Credit to him and his hard work and him really jelling within the team, and the team having the confidence in him and putting him in a good area where he can score goals and be a very dangerous player for us. Our goal is to win every game and compete for MLS Cup. It’s good that David had a good start to the season.”
Estrada: “I think anybody’s name can be called, maybe this week, maybe next week. It’s such a very deep team (including forward Sammy Ochoa, who made his season debut Saturday). It is going to come to a point where a great player, I guess, has to sit out. It’s the coach’s decision. He’s there for a reason.”
Johnson is a 28-year-old former U.S. national team striker with international experience. When the Sounders traded for him Feb. 17, coach Sigi Schmid said the plan was to pair him with Montero up top.
However, a series of injuries limited Johnson’s preseason training and has kept him out of the first three games.
The starting spot went to third-year man Estrada, who erupted for four goals in the first two games, including a hat trick in the opener.
Now Johnson seems nearly recovered from a hip injury and could be available to make his Sounders debut Saturday at D.C. United.
Schmid was asked if that starting position is still reserved for Johnson.
“Obviously, David is playing well right now, and Eddie knows that as well as anybody,” Schmid said last week. “For us right now, the main thing is to get Eddie Johnson healthy, to get him fit. Once he’s fit and he’s well that way, he’ll get time on the field. Players decide that stuff, not me.”
Johnson says he never assumed the spot was his to lose.
“I was brought here to be part of the success that the team has been having,” he said. “There was no ‘Eddie Johnson’s going to start.’ There was nothing handed to me. As a player, you’ve got to work for everything in life.”
Midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring) participated in a full training Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
However, defenders Adam Johansson (hamstring) and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (pelvis) were limited and will be reassessed today.
Schmid said the team will fly to Washington, D.C., with a couple of extra players Thursday because of the health uncertainties.
Meanwhile, Steve Zakuani (leg) came through his 45 minutes of play in a training game against Gonzaga on Sunday with no setbacks.
Finally, Schmid said midfielder Mauro Rosales (knee) won’t play Saturday but “is getting better each day” and could return to action April 14 when Colorado visits CenturyLink Field.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer Twitter: @donruiztnt