After several weeks away, the familiar pulsing beats from Raúl Ruidíaz’s portable speaker were back at Starfire Sports Complex, giving Monday’s training session some much-appreciated added energy.
Although Ruidíaz may not yet be able to travel for Tuesday’s game against LAFC, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was optimistic that his star striker would be playing again soon.
“It might be a little bit of a stretch for tomorrow,” Schmetzer said. “But certainly Galaxy, Vancouver … he’s certainly motivated, happy to be back.”
Also adding to the positive emotions around the training session was the full involvement of Brad Smith, Jordan Morris and Nico Lodeiro, the last of whom may even be able to play against LAFC.
“Nico is a surprising one,” Schmetzer said. “He’s looked good. I’m going to talk to him now. If he feels good, there might be a chance we take him [to LA]. That would be good for him, good for the team. He’s already got clearance from his doctor.”
Morris, much to Schmetzer’s chagrin, has not received the same clearance.
“Jordan is still on that medical timeline that for the life of me I can not move because I’m not a doctor,” he said. “I think he looks ready. He believes he’s ready, but he’s on that medical timeline.”
Getting these players back in time for the playoffs would be an undeniably major boost. Ruidiaz, Morris and Lodeiro were all named MLS Best XI last year, combining for 33 goals and 28 assists during the regular season and playoffs. All three have been limited by injuries this year, with Morris having yet to make an appearance, Lodeiro being limited to three starts and Ruidíaz missing the last five matches.
The boost couldn’t come at a better time. The Sounders remain on top of the Western Conference after their loss to Sporting KC, but their lead is down to three points and they have a trio of challenging games left on their schedule.
“I think all of us really felt it after the game,” Schmetzer said. “It was an opportunity we didn’t take advantage of.”