The Seattle Sounders received a positive update ahead of their must-win game against FC Cincinnati: international midfielder Cristian Roldan will probably see some playing time.
While losing 2-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday wasn't a fatal blow, it was certainly damaging to the Sounders' playoff hopes. With just three league games remaining, they find themselves four points outside of seventh place.
Missing out would end Seattle's MLS record of 13 consecutive playoff qualifications, dating back to their first year in the league in 2009. They would also lose their record of having never finished lower than fourth in the Western Conference and seventh in the Supporters' Shield standings.
Short-handed against Cincinnati
Of course, if the Sounders can find a way to win all three of their remaining games, you never know how things might play out in the standings. It's going to be a tough task though, starting with their game at home to Cincinnati.
The meeting on Sept. 27 had to be re-scheduled due to Seattle's Champions League campaign. As a result, the game is now being played during what was meant to be a break for international fixtures.
This means the Sounders will be without the likes of Jordan Morris, Nouhou and Xavier Arreaga. They may also be missing Raul Ruidiaz and Alex Roldan. (Seattle is in talks to keep Ruidiaz and Roldan due to their respective international teams not qualifying for the World Cup.)
To prove that when it rains it pours, the Rave Green will definitely also be without Nicolas Lodeiro. As per Fox Sports, he is suspended due to yellow card accumulation after receiving a yellow for a late tackle on Julian Gressel in Vancouver.
Roldan's impending return
Taking all of this into account, there is at least some potential good news heading into the FC Cincinnati game: Cristian Roldan will return to action.
The positive update came on Tuesday during Brian Schmetzer's interview on 93.3 KJR, with Dave 'Softy' Mahler and Dick Fain. The head coach said:
"There’s a little bit of hope on the horizon. He’s probably -- and I'm saying probably without a guarantee -- but probably going to see some time against Cincinnati."- Brian Schmetzer
To have Roldan back for the Cincinnati game would certain be a bonus. Prior to Schmetzer's update on Tuesday, the midfielder was anticipated to return against Sporting KC.
The 27-year-old has been out since undergoing surgery to fix a lingering groin issue.
Roldan's importance to the Sounders is unquestioned. He was selected 16th overall in the 2015 MLS Superdraft and became a regular starter in 2016, when he helped the club win their first ever MLS Cup.
The United States international has 32 goals and 37 assists in 224 MLS games (including 203 starts). He memorably made his mark during this year's run to CONCACAF Champions League glory, recording a tournament-high five assists.
What is your opinion of the Sounders' playoff hopes as of right now? Have you given up realistic hope, or are you still convinced they will find a way to qualify? Let us know in the comments section below.