In the best-case scenario, Raúl Ruidíaz was always expected to miss at least five games. After testing positive for Covid-19 on Monday, Ruidíaz is now much closer to a worst-case scenario that could cost him the remainder of the MLS regular season.
The good news is that Ruidíaz is still apparently symptom-free, at least as recently as Monday evening. Unfortunately, it’s not clear what the process will be for him to return to the United States. It’s at least possible that he will be required to remain in Peru until the virus clears his system. That could take as little as a week, but could take longer.
Even in that scenario, though, a Sounders spokesperson said the team is still expecting MLS to require Ruidíaz to quarantine for 10 days before returning to training. That would mean he wouldn’t even be eligible to play until the Nov. 1 match against the Colorado Rapids. Any further delay would make it almost impossible for him to return to the field before Decision Day on Nov. 8. (Update: Ruidiaz won’t be required to do a second quarantine, after all.)
Further complicating the situation is that Peru — which is going forward with its match tonight against Brazil despite having two positive Covid-19 tests — has another round of World Cup qualifying scheduled for Nov. 12 and 17. As of yet, there are no indications that those matches will be called off or that the Sounders would have any added ability to decline the call-up. The Sounders have historically acquiesced to their players’ desires to join national teams and there are no indications this experience will force a change in that policy.
For now, the MLS playoffs are scheduled to begin on Nov. 20 and conclude on Dec. 12, although there have apparently been discussions about pushing the start back by about a week. According to a report in The Athletic, the possibility of conducting the playoffs in a second bubble have been all but completely dismissed, as the logistics of pulling that off on such short notice would make it extremely difficult to implement.