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Sounders international roundup: Xavier Arreaga scores first international goal

It was, again, a bit of a mixed bag.


Three Seattle Sounders players are headed home with the international window closed, having joined their respective national teams. Two traveled to South America to compete in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying — Xavier Arreaga for Ecuador and Raúl Ruidíaz for Peru — while Gustav Svensson crossed the Atlantic to join the Sweden national team for a friendly and a pair of UEFA Nations League games. All three saw time on the field, but the extent of their involvement and success varied greatly.

The most notable development was Xavier Arreaga scoring his first international goal, who also helped Ecuador claim two wins and move into third place in CONMEBOL’s World Cup Qualifying race.

Arreaga played the full 90 minutes of both games as Ecuador won 2-0 against Bolivia and 6-1 against Colombia. He truly shown against Colombia as he was involved in four of the seven total goals, although one of those was the penalty he conceded for Colombia’s lone goal when he needlessly tripped Duvan Zapata inside the box.

His header off of an attempted clearance was then flicked on to set up the opening goal in the 7th minute, then two minutes later he cleared a goal kick that played Angel Mena in behind the Colombian defense and through on goal for his first international assist. In the 39th minute Arreaga found himself in a most unlikely position after the ball was played around on a set piece and he tucked the ball into the back of the net to make the score 4-0. His penalty came in first-half stoppage time, and was the kind of thing that has often frustrated Seattle fans. The game was already well won, but Arreaga still displayed decidedly poor decision making having already connected with the ball on his first attempt and deciding to take another swing and instead only connecting with his opponent.

Gustav Svensson seemed set for an active week when he started in midfield and wore the captain’s armband for Sweden in a friendly with Denmark back on Nov. 11. Svensson subbed off after the Danes scored their second goal of the game, and his 75 minutes in the 2-0 loss would be his last during the window. The Sounders midfielder was on the bench as Sweden won 2-1 against Croatia, and again as they fell to France 4-2, but he didn’t play in either game.

Peru’s most recent two games did little to change their prospects for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. A pair of 2-0 losses to Chile and Argentina leave them in 9th place out of 10 teams, with one draw and three losses and 14 games remaining. Ruidíaz played in both games, but had minimal impact. He started and went 60 minutes in the loss to Chile, already trailing courtesy of an Arturo Vidal brace by the time Ruidíaz left the game. He did have one gilt-edged chance against Chile, as he received the ball inside the box with only the goalkeeper to beat, but a kick save denied his attempt. Against Argentina Ruidíaz made only a brief appearance in the final nine minutes, but once again the game was already beyond them.

It remains unclear how MLS’s plans to use chartered flights to avoid requiring quarantines will impact the returning Sounders. Both Ecuador and Sweden have had positive COVID-19 tests within the squads, meaning Arreaga and Svensson may still need to quarantine upon return due to possible contact. Ruidíaz should be available for the game against LAFC, having previously tested positive and now possessing antibodies.

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