Brian Schmetzer is looking to see the Seattle Sounders move on quickly from the disappointment of their early Club World Cup exit.
The Sounders start the new MLS season at home to the Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
But Seattle have already played their first competitive game of the year after becoming the league’s first representatives in FIFA’s showpiece club tournament.
That trip did not go to plan, as the Sounders lost 1-0 to Al Ahly in their opener, but the focus now is back on league play.
“The team seems to be in a good mood,” Schmetzer said.
“The messaging has been (that we know) it’s been a bit of a long preseason, interrupted with the shortened trip to Morocco – we would have liked to have stayed there a little longer – but it’s here.
“Crunch time, money time, the season, it’s here. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
The Sounders qualified for the Club World Cup by winning the CONCACAF Champions League, but that meant their domestic season “fizzled at the end”, as Schmetzer put it.
The team missed the playoffs for the first time, and the coach said: “We didn’t like it. I think the guys are anxious to play.”
Schmetzer considers the Rapids “a good team” and “really appreciates” the work down by coach Robin Fraser, but he was asked if his own job might be under threat after a tough year.
“Anybody who buys a ticket has the right to have an opinion, and there are a lot of strong opinions around here in Seattle,” Schmetzer said. “But that pressure all comes from inside.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Seattle Sounders – Heber
Raul Ruidiaz’s status is uncertain ahead of the season opener, meaning new signing Heber could come in for his debut.
The Brazilian scored a goal every 124 minutes for New York City FC last season and has been described by Schmetzer as more “subtle” than Will Bruin, the man he is replacing.
Colorado Rapids – Michael Barrios
The 2022 season represented a down year for Barrios, but he remains an exciting watch.
Indeed, Schmetzer noted his battle with Nouhou Tolo would be key, saying: “That’s worth the price of a ticket watching those two guys go at each other.”
MATCH PREDICTION – SEATTLE WIN
Seattle may have set unwanted club records for points (41, a new low) and losses (17, a new high) in 2022, but they still beat Colorado at home, as they so often do.
In fact, the Sounders have won 15 of their 18 home games against the Rapids, including playoff matches.That 83.3 win percentage is the highest in MLS history among fixtures played 10 times or more, and it looks unlikely to change given the Rapids won only one of 19 road games in all competitions last year.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Seattle50.7 per cent
Colorado22.5 per cent
Draw26.8 per cent