Seattle Sounders FC and the Colorado Rapids each could display new looks Saturday when they meet in Commerce City, Colo.
The Rapids’ changes stem from subtraction. Franchise icons such as Conor Casey and Omar Cummings have ended their long associations with the club.
The Sounders’ new look could stem from addition. The club finally might be near full health as it heads into its sixth game of the Major League Soccer season.
At least, that’s the way it was at training sessions this week.
Though key players such as Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Patrick Ianni are listed as questionable, coach Sigi Schmid indicated he expects to have his first-choice lineup available today.
“I think so,” Schmid said Friday before his team took a flight to Colorado. “We were pretty healthy (Thursday), and we were healthy (Friday during training).
So we’ll see. We’ll check on guys now, but unless there’s something strange that happens, we should be OK.”
That’s new for the Sounders, who at 0-3-2 are MLS’ only winless team. Through those five games, Johnson has appeared three times, Martins twice and Ianni not at all. Midfielder Mario Martinez has played three times, Brad Evans twice and designated player Shalrie Joseph once.
At the end of this week, when Schmid watched a practice session with all of those players participating, he said his team was the healthiest it has been — including the early days of training camp in January.
“We had everyone out here,” he said. “I think it’s the first time, because even when we had the one group together the one day with Oba, Ianni still wasn’t back in the group. So this was the first time we’ve had all the players out and participating in training. It was a good feeling.
“Some of the things we worked on … were good. The timing was off a little bit, obviously, because the people are a little bit different, but it was enjoyable.”
Colorado understandably might have opened this season with timing issues of its own. The Rapids reworked their roster and playing style with Casey leaving for Philadelphia and Cummings’ trade to Houston.
Casey’s 50 goals and Cummings’ 39 rank them as the top two goal-scorers in club history. In 2010, when the Rapids won MLS Cup, Casey and Cummings were the league’s highest-scoring duo.
“It’s weird not seeing them,” Schmid said. “But teams always go through evolutions. Teams always go through changes. (Coach Oscar Pareja) is now in his second year, so he’s putting his stamp on the team. He’s obviously adjusted his philosophy from what he felt would be successful last year, and their last two games have been good results for them, so I’m sure they want to build on that.”
Like Seattle, Colorado opened its season 0-3-2. However, the Rapids have won their last two by 1-0 scores to move six points ahead of the Sounders.
“They’ve just gone big and strong,” Schmid said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that are 6-foot or bigger in their starting lineup. So they’ve definitely become a lot more direct — playing a 4-2-3-1 (formation) — and they just try and get after it a little more than last year. It’s not as much short build-up out of the back.”
The Sounders signed former Virginia forward Will Bates and waived defender Andrew Duran.