Eddie Johnson’s hamstring injury “is a slight tweak,” according to coach Sigi Schmid, giving the Sounders’ top scorer an outside chance to play Friday at CenturyLink in the opener of the two-leg playoff series against Real Salt Lake.
“Its not nearly as bad as we initially thought,” Schmid said after practice Tuesday. “We wanted to go easy with him today, and then well see where hes at tomorrow. Theres an outside chance on Friday, and for sure the second game shouldnt be a problem.
Johnson was injured Sunday in the 43rd minute against Los Angeles when he accelerated suddenly. He stopped, then sat down on the field for a couple of minutes before walking off, replaced by Sammy Ochoa.
If Johnson can’t go, Schmid’s list of potential striker replacements included Ochoa, David Estrada, Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales.
Johnson’s absence would be a blow to Seattle against RSL, against whom they are scoreless this season in three games, a loss and two draws. Schmid said a part of the problem is that Seattle hasn’t been a full strength against RSL, which happened a year ago in the playoffs when top assist man Rosales was absent with injury.
I dont think weve played our full team against them,” he said. “Ozzie (Alonso) I know missed one game and Eddies missed a couple games. Ochoa started games. I think weve had different groups.
“I think there are also teams that are good possession teams, that hold the ball, and sometimes the play maybe gets bogged down a little bit at midfield as a result. They concentrate defensively against us because they know we can move the ball, and we concentrate defensively against them because we know theyre good moving the ball around, so thats why theyve been tied games.
Margins between the clubs are negligible.
“Theyre evenly matched,” said Schmid. “Whenever you get to the playoffs, its sometimes an error will decide a game. Sometimes its a set piece that will decide the game. but games are decided on very few things.”
Schmid said two defenders who have missed action, Pat Ianni and Leo Gonzalez, “are getting better every day,” and fellow defender Jeff Parke, pulled out of Sunday’s game as a precaution, should be ready to go.