Xavier Arreaga will be returning to the Seattle Sounders a couple days earlier than planned, but that’s not necessarily good news. Arreaga has left Ecuador’s World Cup qualifying camp after sustaining an injury, according to reports. It’s unclear how serious it is.
If Arreaga can’t get fit in time to play in the Sounders’ MLS Cup Playoffs opener against Real Salt Lake on Nov. 23, that will practically guarantee that Shane O’Neill starts in the middle of a three-back formation.
Although rarely first-choice, O’Neill still started 19 games and logged 1,856 minutes. That’s the most playing time he’s received since topping 2,000 while in the Netherlands in 2016-17. The Sounders went 10-4-4 in O’Neill’s starts, as opposed to 10-7-7 in Arreaga’s starts.
Defensively, Arreaga and O’Neill have pretty similar statistics; the main differentiator is in their passing aggressiveness. While both are pretty tidy, Arreaga is a bit more likely to attempt forward passes.