TUKWILA — Brian Schmetzer’s availability for Saturday’s Cascadia Cup showdown with the Portland Timbers is in doubt after it was revealed that he had entered the league’s “health and safety protocols.” The coach later confirmed on KJR that he has Covid-19.
Although Schmetzer took up his usual spot on the sidelines during Wednesday’s training session, he did it while wearing a mask and keeping a bit more distance than usual. Schmetzer, who has received three vaccine shots, said he is in reasonably good health and not feeling too many adverse effects of his infection. It’s possible that team doctors will clear him to participate in Saturday’s match.
“I’ve never seen him sit down yet,” Sounders Sporting Director Craig Waibel told reporters. “I’d be shocked if we see him sit down and take a break.”
If Schmetzer is unable to serve as head coach, assistants Freddy Juarez and Preki are the most likely candidates to replace him. Both have extensive MLS head coaching experience.
Raúl Ruidíaz ‘looks great’
In more encouraging news, Raúl Ruidíaz was a full training participant and appears to be in line to return from the injury that has forced him to miss the last four matches. Schmetzer told KJR that the Peruvian striker would start against the Timbers.
“Raúl is going to start,” Schmetzer said. “He’s ready to go. He’s been a Portland killer.”
Ruidíaz last played on June 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps, a game in which he scored a brace prior to coming out in the 64th minute with a muscle injury. It’s the third muscle injury he’s suffered since last September.
The injury interrupted what had been an impressive run of form in which Ruidíaz had scored seven goals in his past six appearances across all competitions.
“Over the last several weeks our medical staff has done a wonderful job,” Waibel said. “Raúl has done a wonderful job the way he approached the injury. You never know how a player is going to digest an injury midseason but mentally he’s had a great recovery from Day 1. He’s been smiling. He understands timelines. He’s had a phenomenal recovery and he looks great.”
Other injury updates
Also rejoining training on Wednesday was Will Bruin, who missed the Toronto FC match while in “health and safety protocols.”
It was not as clear when Xavier Arreaga would return, although Schmetzer said on KJR that he was close to returning but the club didn’t want to risk anything. The centerback has missed the last three games and continues to work out mostly on the side.