Seattle Sounders FC will return to action Monday night against the rival Los Angeles Galaxy with several changes from the team that played in its previous Major League Soccer match more than two weeks ago.
Since beating the Portland Timbers on July 13, the Sounders signed one player and waived another. A player has gone out on loan and returned. Others have recovered from injury well enough to give coach Sigi Schmid several lineup decisions entering the nationally televised home match against the Galaxy.
The newest Sounder is Aaron Long, whom the Timbers selected in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He didn’t play there, but he was put out on loan twice before being released July 2. Long began training with the Sounders soon thereafter and was signed July 18.
“We were interested in possibly drafting him,” Schmid said. “Portland picked him ahead of us. We saw him with Portland a little bit in preseason. He was a player that I always liked. He trained with us. In the summer, he was at our combine as well. And then my youngest son (Kyle) was an assistant coach where he played at, at (UC) Riverside. So we had pretty good insight as to what we thought he could do.”
Long is listed as a 6-foot-1 midfielder, but Seattle also wants to look at him in central defense.
Long said he is happy to receive a second chance. He gave this quick list of qualities he brings to the club: “Hard work. Just ready to learn. … Keeping the ball. Playing simple. Athleticism on the pitch.”
His addition was followed by a roster subtraction. The Sounders on Wednesday waived midfielder Fabio Pereira, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2014 SuperDraft. Pereira did not appear in any MLS games, but he made his pro debut in the U.S. Open Cup and had five MLS Reserve League appearances.
“Roster-wise, we wanted to come with Aaron Long,” Schmid said. “Fabio is a good player and had a good four or five months with us. We thought for his continued development, he needed to get games, and Aaron Long was a player that was available and a guy I had seen before and had an interest in. We brought him in to train. We’re happy with his training and decided to hold on to him.”
Meanwhile, veteran David Estrada returned to Seattle after a two-game loan to USL-Pro Charlotte. Estrada contributed a goal and an assist while starting the second game at forward. He has played all three lines for the Sounders, but the club views him as a defender.
“We knew when he was going to Charlotte that they were probably going to use him up front, and we were OK with that,” Schmid said. “The things that David is continuing to try to grow in his game really doesn’t relate to position. The same decisions that you make on the ball is the same, whether it’s in the back or up front: when to part with it, when to run off of it. I’m happy that he had a good game. It was a good confidence builder for him to get that goal and an assist.”
The personnel issues that could be most relevant in the Galaxy match could be the improving health of several players, including some starters.
Schmid said midfielder Andy Rose and defenders Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez and Dylan Remick could be available Monday, leaving only veteran midfielder/defender Brad Evans (calf) and reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (hamstring) unlikely because of health issues.