The international break came at the perfect time for the Seattle Sounders, with two disappointing draws dampening what has otherwise been a great start to the 2021 season. With nearly three weeks between games, it seemingly provided Coach Schmetzer’s side time to recuperate from some nagging injuries.
Unfortunately, it appears those Sounders on the mend will need a bit more time.
While the likes of Jordan Morris and Jordy Delem already figured to be on the shelf until the end of the year — Delem was recently placed on the end-of-season injury list — the prognosis for the return of some other injured Sounders is a bit hazy, at best.
Atencio made an immediate impact with the Sounders, starting the first two matches of the year and earning rave reviews for his performances. He then failed a fitness test ahead of the May 2 match against the LA Galaxy and hasn’t seen the field since. Deemed a quad injury, Atencio’s recovery has taken a bit longer than expected, and the Sounders decided to shut him down until after the international break.
According to Schmetzer, Atencio is close, but isn’t quite ready and at this point is unlikely to feature against the Galaxy in the return match in Carson on June 19. “That quad injury is a tricky one,” Schmetzer said. “He’s getting close, but part of the demands of that position [defensive midfield] is to take a ball from a deeper position and hit a long switching ball, and that’s probably the worst thing for your quad. That’s kind of the last hurdle for Josh. He looks good when he runs, but we’ve got to be careful there.”
On May 28, Schmetzer announced that Frei had developed complications in the form of blood clots from his injury sustained in the Sounders 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Initially, the news appeared to be positive, with reports that Frei would miss “only” 4-6 weeks, but the blood clot diagnosis pushed his return into an indefinite timeline. Schmetzer indicated it’s possible he’ll be back this summer but was noncommittal. “That’s a longer term, a little bit more serious one,” Schmetzer said. “We’re talking about July or August.”
Schmetzer was similarly guarded about providing an exact timeframe for the return of midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. The Sounders’ talisman started the season recovering from an injury, and made a 30-minute cameo against the Galaxy. The Sounders decided to shut Lodeiro down until after the international break and announced he underwent an arthroscopic procedure late last month.
While it seems Lodeiro is likely to return before Frei does, Schmetzer cautioned against a quick return. “That injury is just going to heal when it heals,” Schmetzer said. “I could tell you it’s a 3-4 week recovery process, but that might be a little light, it might be a little long. It’s just the nature of that repair and the inflammation they couldn’t get on top of earlier.
“I don’t want to say something now and it doesn’t come to pass. We’re just going to take it to make sure that Nico’s long term recovery is the priority.”
One bit of good news is that the injury suffered by Brad Smith, which kept him from competing with Australia in international duty, truly appears to have been minor. Smith was in training with the team this week.