Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmezter may be aligned with playing some of his younger players in the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament but prioritized the need to win games when the Sounders return-to-play next month in Orlando.
“We’re going down there to win games, it’s not a development tournament for young kids,” Schmezter told reporters in a conference call last week. “The kids have to earn their minutes, but what is going to happen is their window of opportunity might be a little bigger down at that tournament.”
“So I’m not going to be afraid to throw a young player on there if one of the senior players have heavy legs and you got a couple extra subs and a burst of young enthusiasm, energy — they’re going to try to impress the coaches, [and] that’s a good thing to have.”
The Sounders kick off Group B action against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 10 at 10:30 p.m. ET.
It will be their first match since the league halted the regular season on March 12.
Despite rising COVID-19 cases in Florida leading up to next month’s MLS is Back Tournament at Walt Disney World, Schmezter said he’s feeling safe going into the league’s quarantine bubble.
“From a soccer perspective, I am still feeling safe about the whole process,” he said. “We will be in a bubble. We will be limiting contact. The people that we do come into contact with will go through screening.”
Schmetzer added: “Our protocols are working. I am German and I am pragmatic, I understand that there are going to be cases in the country, they’ll be cases in MLS teams, they’ll be cases with the Seattle Sounders, but the protocol that we have in place, I am OK with. When we go to Florida, the message I’ve been sending to the players… is we’re taking this seriously.”
Florida has registered 122,960 positive cases since the pandemic started, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel.
Schmetzer did confirm that an unnamed player tested positive for Coronavirus, saying it happened “very early on” during the beginning of individual training in May.
“The player was quarantined, he did additional testing, the doctors have checked him over and he’s back in full training with us,” added Schmetzer.
Schmetzer did, however, urge people to take precautionary measures.
“I’m concerned there are not enough people in this country that don’t understand that wearing a mask is actually a good thing,” said Schmetzer. “… it amazes me that people think that it’s an infringement of their rights that they don’t have to wear a mask.”
Will Bruin status unclear
Among other things the Sounders boss spoke on was the status of forward Will Bruin
“Will Bruin took a little bit of a knock in training,” said Schmetzer. “His participation down there in Orlando is still [to be determined].”
It’s a challenge, Schemtzer said, that could be overcome with depth and good coaching.
“The depth of the team is going to be important, but I have faith in the squad,” he added. “The tactics are going to be good. The coaching is going to be good, the physical preparation is actually very good… depth is going to be important, but I think we can overcome those challenges.”
Yet, Schmezter said he’s not ruling Bruin out of the tournament.
“Will might make one of the group games, I’m not ruling him out — he’s a very tough kid. He’s anxious to get back at it. Specifically again, Will’s injury was not his ACL, it was not serious [and] I’m hoping to get him back early.”