TUKWILA — The flight home after a loss can be a grueling part of an athlete’s life.
Jordan Morris was subbed out of the U.S. men’s national team’s 1-0 Gold Cup final loss to Mexico in the 61st minute Sunday in Chicago, then hopped a plane to Seattle the next day and was at Sounders practice at Starfire Sports on Wednesday.
Although on a separate flight, U.S. and Sounders teammate Cristian Roldan had a similar path to rejoin their MLS club — having basically no time to fully decompress from a mentally and physically intense tournament.
“I’ve been thinking about it the last couple of days,” Morris said Wednesday. “Coming off a loss like that, it was really tough. We had some really good chances to score. ... For me, it just gives me more motivation, and I really just want to be back playing again to try and get that out of my head and move forward a little bit.”
After Roldan and Morris joined the U.S. following a June 1 MLS game in Dallas, Morris started three of his five Gold Cup appearances and finished with two assists. Roldan substituted in for Morris in the second half Sunday and created an equalizer opportunity off a volley from a corner kick that was cleared by Mexico.
Roldan made four appearances with one start in the tournament, and he shared Morris’ sentiment.
“In the manner that we lost it, playing well and having our chances to win the game, that’s what’s tough for us,” he said. “(We’ve) tried not to (talk about the loss), but it’s come up once or twice already. We continue to talk about tactics and what we did well and what we didn’t. That’s something we can correct, even with Seattle.”
Morris, who suffered a hamstring injury in May before joining the U.S. men, has a slightly easier return to the Sounders than Roldan, given U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter played the Mercer Island native Morris in a similar way that Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer does. Roldan, a natural scoring threat, will drop back to utilize more of his defensive skills within Schmetzer’s tactics.
Their playing schedule will remain difficult.
Seattle (9-5-5) hosts defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United (9-7-3) on Sunday to kickoff another three-game stretch within eight days, including a friendly against Borussia Dortmund at CenturyLink Field on July 17. The Sounders won two of their past three matches, including a 2-1 road win in Columbus last week.
Due to injuries and, at their peak, the Sounders having 10 players fulfilling call-up duties, the club had a merry-go-round of lineups. To defeat Columbus, Schmetzer started teenagers Danny Leyva, a midfielder, and forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez.
“Every time the Sounders were on, I tried to watch it, whether it was on the bus or in the locker room, I made my best effort,” Roldan said.
“I congratulated every single one of the guys that debuted and also the guys that played extremely well,” Roldan continued. “I’m really happy to see everyone back here, gave a lot of hugs (and) I think both teenagers play older than they actually seem.”
The Sounders welcomed Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz back from Copa America play after training Wednesday. Peru lost in the title match to Brazil on Sunday, Ruidiaz substituting in late in the second half.
Sounders midfielder Handwalla Bwana was back after handling a personal matter while midfielder Joevin Jones should arrive this week after the birth of his child. Only left winger Victor Rodriguez is questionable for Sunday’s game due to a chronic hamstring injury. He did not train with the team Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day.
“We look forward to having a full deck of cards come Sunday,” Schmetzer said.