The Gold Cup and Copa America have now moved into the semifinals, which means just four teams remain in each competition. That leaves just three Seattle Sounders — Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz — away on international duty. Here’s where the various internationals stand as Seattle prepares for a two-match week, with games against New York City FC (July 3) and Columbus Crew (July 6):
Players who are back
Joevin Jones: The Trinidad & Tobago midfielder got back a few days before the Vancouver Whitecaps match and played 86 minutes for the Sounders. He took three shots and had several dangerous chances. He’s only played about 200 minutes in all competitions since mid-April, so he seems a solid bet to be able to play in both of the Sounders’ upcoming games.
Xavier Arreaga: Ecuador was eliminated from Copa America in the group stage last Friday. He apparently had to attend to some personal matters, but attended Saturday’s game. Assuming he was able to maintain his fitness despite not playing a single minute for Ecuador, he should be able to play in both of the Sounders’ upcoming games.
Jordy Delem: Martinique was eliminated in the Gold Cup group stage and the midfielder went the full 90 in all three Gold Cup matches, even scoring against Mexico. Although he didn’t play against the Whitecaps, that was a tactical choice by Brian Schmetzer and he should be available for as many minutes as the Sounders need him in these next two games.
Players who should rejoin the team this week
Román Torres: Panama was eliminated by Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals on Saturday. Torres played all 90 minutes in the game and he’s played 360 minutes with Panama since joining them near the beginning of the month. He’ll likely be rejoining the Sounders this week, but chances are he’ll only be available for one of the two games.
Nicolas Lodeiro: After looking like one of the tournament favorites in the group stage, Uruguay were somewhat surprisingly eliminated by Peru in the Copa America quarterfinals. Lodeiro had started all three group stage games and had even scored a goal in La Celeste’s opener, but he did not get off the bench in the final game. Although he’s logged about 250 minutes since last playing for the Sounders on May 26, he should be ready to hit the ground running and may even be able to start both Sounders matches.
Players who are still with national teams
Cristian Roldan: The midfielder has logged about 270 minutes with the USA — including three starts — since leaving the Sounders after their June 1 match.
Unless Gregg Berhalter decides to release him early, the USA is guaranteed two more matches in the Gold Cup. That means he’ll miss both of Seattle’s games. The USA got rid of the third-place game after 2015, so a loss to Jamaica on July 3 in Nashville could make it possible for Roldan to meet up with the Sounders in Columbus ahead of their July 6 match.
Jordan Morris: Like Roldan, Morris has been an occasional starter for Berhalter and has logged about 150 minutes that includes appearances in three of four Gold Cup games. His best game was a two-assist performance off the bench against Trinidad & Tobago.
Unlike Roldan, there’s really no chance of Morris being sent home early as it looks like Berhalter sees him as a complementary piece to regular starter Tyler Boyd. Don’t expect to see him until July 14 at the earliest.
Raúl Ruidíaz: The forward has only played about 120 minutes for Peru since last playing for the Sounders on June 1. Just five of those minutes came in Copa America play, but he was one of the five players selected to take penalties in the quarterfinal with Uruguay. Ruidíaz converted his. The downside is that Peru will have at least two more games, and he will almost certainly not be back with the Sounders until they play Atlanta United on July 14.
The big questions
The Sounders will have about as full of a roster as they’ve had in about six weeks, but there are some still some question marks.
Forward: Justin Dhillon is probably in line for at least one more start and depending on how Wednesday’s game at New York City FC goes, maybe even two. If Schmetzer wants to change things up, giving 17-year-old Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez his first career start against the struggling Columbus Crew on July 6 isn’t a bad idea. But those two relatively inexperienced players are the only natural forwards the Sounders will have available this week.
Centerback: The Sounders probably aren’t going to get any deeper than they’ll be this week — Kim Kee-hee, Xavier Arreaga and Román Torres should all be available — but the recent play of Saad Abdul-Salaam at least forces Schmetzer into some tough choices. A lot may depend on Kim’s health. Saturday’s match against the Whitecaps was Kim’s first appearance since May 26 and it’s unlikely he can play three games in eight days already. Is Schmetzer ready to trust Arreaga or Torres with two starts just three days apart, or would he rather keep Salaam in the mix?
Midfielder: If Lodeiro is back, you can probably assume he’ll play every minute he’s capable of giving the Sounders. Similarly, Svensson is probably about as close to lock as you get. But the other three midfield spots? That’s harder to say. Danny Leyva is coming off a very impressive performance against the Whitecaps. Is starting him on the road setting him up to fail or do the Sounders simply need to see if he can do it? Harry Shipp has quietly been the Sounders best offensive player over the past six weeks or so — does he deserve at least one more start before the team is at full strength? How about Henry Wingo, who’s coming off arguably his best performance at the MLS level? If Víctor Rodríguez is healthy, the Sounders would be crazy not to start him, right? Can the Sounders afford not to have Jones on the field, at least as long as Morris is away?
The positive is that these are the kinds of questions coaches want to be forced to make and Schmetzer’s job will hopefully not be getting any easier anytime soon.