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Joevin Jones returns to training, Nico Lodeiro delayed in Miami

Brian Schmetzer says Jones will have to prove “he is absolutely committed until the end of the season.”

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Waylaying fears that he may have been trying to force his release, Joevin Jones was back in Seattle Sounders training on Thursday after skipping out without permission a week before the recently concluded international break.

What role Jones will now have is still undetermined, though.

“As far as our team is concerned, he understands where he is with me and his teammates,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told the media, noting that any discipline will be handled internally and not made public. “He has to prove to them that he’s absolutely fully committed up until Dec. 9 (the day of MLS Cup) and that will dictate how he plays, when he plays, why he plays, all that stuff.

“A lot of the guys on the team like Joevin. A lot of them believe he’s a good guy and people make mistakes. There’s no getting around that. As far as I’m concerned that’s put to bed.”

Schmetzer did say that Jones’ absence and subsequent return did give him an opportunity to talk to his players about the relatively short length of their careers and how big of an opportunity it is to attempt to repeat as champions.

“There are lots of positives we can take from this,” Schmetzer said. “As long as the players commit to themselves, I’m happy. That’s his job. He needs to prove to them he’s committed.”

How much damage Jones may have done with his place in the team will be somewhat on display on Sunday when the Sounders host the LA Galaxy. If the Sounders had their druthers, they’d probably have preferred to give Nouhou the start after he put in a pair of strong performances in Jones’ absence. But with Nouhou suspended due to a questionable red card at the end of the Sounders’ last game, the Sounders would be potentially spiting themselves by not using Jones.

If the Sounders choose to punish Jones by not starting him, that would likely open the door for Oniel Fisher to make his third start of the season at left back. In Fisher’s two previous starts there, the Sounders lost by a collective score of 6-0 in road games against Sporting KC and the Columbus Crew. Fisher made 10 starts at left back in 2015 with the Sounders going 5-3-2 in those games.

Also of note, Nicolas Lodeiro was not at Thursday’s training session after his flight was delayed in Miami due to Hurricane Irma. He was expected to be in Seattle by Thursday afternoon and should be ready to play on Sunday after not featuring in Uruguay’s recent World Cup qualifiers.

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