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Raúl Ruidíaz returns to Sounders training

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Striker had been stuck in Peru for most of the preseason.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Raúl Ruidíaz finally joined his Seattle Sounders teammates in training on Wednesday, officially ending an ordeal that forced him to miss the first month-plus of preseason.

His return was obviously appreciated by teammates.

“Raul brings a little spark to the team,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “Energy wise, he’s always ready to train and he brings some light-heartedness to the locker room. We also see that on the field with the amount of smiles he brings. It’s great to have him back and he’s going to score a lot of goals for us.”

The Peruvian striker was always planning to miss some of preseason after getting called up to his national team for some World Cup qualifiers. But after those matches got canceled, the expectation was that he’d be able to join the Sounders relatively quickly.

Instead, immigration paperwork caused a delay that lasted nearly a month. The upshot, at least, is that Ruidíaz now has his green card, opening up an international roster spot.

Ruidíaz rejoins training just in time to potentially feature in Saturday’s preseason match against San Diego Loyal. It’s just the Sounders’ second meeting against an opponent from outside the organization and their last match before the start of the regular season on April 16.

“We now have the incorporation of Raul, which is a big part of how we attack,” Sounders assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda said on Wednesday. “We have to look at how this new formation looks with Raúl now. How we incorporate him into the system.”

The experience could prove vital as the Sounders are still trying to implement a new formation, which will likely be a 3-5-2. So far, Fredy Montero and Will Bruin have looked good as the starting forward pairing, which could give Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer reassurance to not rush Ruidíaz back into the starting lineup if he needs some additional time to acclimate and adjust to the new formation.