Nouhou back with Sounders for second leg of CONCACAF Champions League semi-final against NYCFC
TUKWILA – Nouhou joined Sounders FC training on Saturday.
The Cameroonian defender should be available for selection on Wednesday for the decisive match of the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Seattle travels to play New York City FC at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Nouhou missed the semi-final opener at Lumen Field due to an accumulation of yellow cards in CONCACAF competitions. He came on as a substitute for 14 minutes in Seattle’s win at Minnesota earlier this month, Nouhou’s first run with the Sounders since helping his national team qualify for the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar this fall.
The Sounders received quality minutes at left-back from Kelyn Rowe in place of Nouhou despite the position not being Rowe’s strongest. The veteran completed 79.6% of his passes against NYCFC and had a decisive cross for right-back Alex Roldan before Albert Rusnak’s goal in 16and minute.
With Nouhou back, Rowe will likely move to another spot in the starting lineup or on the bench for the second leg.
“Kelyn’s usefulness to our club is underrated,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told Starfire Sports after Saturday’s session. “He’s done well since he’s been here. The left-back is a bit of a stretch because he’s right-footed and it’s not orthodox, it’s not traditional.
“But he did a really good job defensively. Pass the ball on his right foot and cross the balls. Getting the ball to his right foot and changing the point of attack was effective. He was good in our possession streaks. So he filled that position very well.
Sounders centre-back Yeimar Gomez Andrade is the only player not to have taken part in full training on Saturday. He suffered a sprained ankle against the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 12 and has missed the last four matches in all competitions.
Schmetzer said there was “probably no chance” Yeimar could feature on Wednesday. All others were declared healthy.
play it again
The Sounders worked to improve some areas on Saturday, but Schmetzer said the team won’t change too much until the second leg. Schmetzer expects a lot of changes from the Cityzens.
Both teams are close to qualifying for their first CCL Finals.
“New York can play better,” said Schmetzer, whose club won the opening game of the semifinal 3-1. “I know their coach (Ronny Deila) is going to get them to play better. So we have to be prepared for the whole game and not just focused on one event.
Seattle had a 3-0 aggregate lead heading into the CCL Quarter-Final Series second leg against Club Leon last month and were aiming to score in the first half to make any comeback difficult. The technical staff deliver the same message for Wednesday.
“And what happened? We defended our lives for a big part of the game,” Schmetzer said of the 1-1 draw at the eponymous stadium in Leon. The Liga MX side scored in free time. stoppage of the second half.
NYCFC were able to score at Lumen which helps them continue their progress. Cityzens striker Thiago Eduardo Andrade took advantage of poor communication in defensive coverage to slip a shot past Sounders keeper Stefan Frei in the 27and minute. Jordan Morris smashed the go-ahead score seven minutes later.
“Were there any critical individual errors on the play they scored? No,” Schmetzer said. “It was a combination of a few little things that we could have done better. I wouldn’t put that on any particular player. The search for perfection is still there, but it’s pro sport and your opponent sometimes beats you up. That’s why you have a guy like Stef Frei at the back. It usually saves our butts.
Speaking of savings
Frei, who has made 20 CCL appearances, is tied for the most saves this season in the regional tournament, according to statistics provided by CONCACAF. His four saves against NYCFC give Frei a total of 16 to equal Comunicaciones FC goalkeeper Kevin Moscoso. The Guatemalan team was eliminated by New York in the quarter-finals.
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan leads the tournament in assists with five.