Someone must sit now that midfielder Victor Rodriguez is healthy and center back Roman Torres returns off his red-card suspension.
TORONTO – Sounders rookie Nouhou said he owes plenty of thanks to teammate Joevin Jones for helping familiarize him with the professional nuances of the left-back position.
And Nouhou’s rapid development since has enabled the Sounders to start him at left back this entire postseason while pushing Jones up to an attacking-winger role. That’s provided a devastating two-way game up and down both sides of the field, helping the Sounders to obliterate Houston in the conference final and advance to Saturday’s MLS Cup final against Toronto FC a second straight year.
And it makes for a difficult choice for Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, who needs an odd-man-out someplace now that midfielder Victor Rodriguez is healthy and center back Roman Torres is returning off his red-card suspension. Schmetzer must decide whether his Nouhou-Jones combination along the left side is worth benching a high-priced and productive midfielder like Rodriguez for a crucial game when his team is finally firing on all cylinders.
Thing is, the Nouhou-Jones combo has been worth every penny thus far.
Most Read Stories
“It’s gotten more and more easy playing together with him,’’ Nouhou said Thursday of Jones as the Sounders finished training at Toronto FC’s indoor facility. “Me, I’m stronger defensively and he’s stronger offensively. So when we work together, we can do a lot of good things. I’m very happy with what’s going on between us out on the field.’’
The Sounders are as well.
With Nouhou and Jones locking down the left side and Kelvin Leerdam and Rodriguez controlling the right, the overmatched Dynamo never knew what hit them. The Sounders won the series 5-0 on aggregate, and it could have been far worse.
They’ve outscored opponents 8-0 in the playoffs and 14-0 the past six matches with the Nouhou-Jones duo opening things up.
But Schmetzer isn’t going to get out of resolving this issue without some anguish. With Osvaldo Alonso not playing, his natural replacement is veteran Gustav Svensson, who has come up huge in critical games for the Sounders.
Schmetzer could opt to sit Svensson and drop Nicolas Lodeiro back a notch to fill Alonso’s role — freeing up an extra winger’s spot for Rodriguez. But against a lethal attack like…