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Brian Schmetzer returns from Covid protocols

Several other coaches appear to be out, however.

New York City FC v Seattle Sounders FC - CONCACAF Champions League - Leg 1 Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

TUKWILA — Although still wearing a mask and keeping a healthy distance from reporters, Brian Schmetzer announced that he’ll be available to coach Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers.

Schmetzer had previously revealed that he tested positive for Covid-19. But after going through the health and safety protocols — which include a requirement to receive two negative tests — he’s now been cleared to return.

“Covid has not gone away,” Schmetzer told reporters on Friday, noting that he was wearing the mask out of respect to reporters and team staff. “I was triple vaccinated. It happens. People are tired of Covid, but we still have to be careful.”

Based on who was coaching during Friday’s session, there’s a good chance someone would have made their MLS head coaching debut if Schmetzer hadn’t been cleared. Preki, Freddy Juarez and Andy Rose were all absent, meaning head coaching duties may have fallen to goalkeeper coach Tommy Dutra. VP of Player Development Henry Brauner was also helping with training and it’s at least possible that Tacoma Defiance head coach Wade Webber could have been enlisted. As it is, some or all of them could be on the bench for Saturday.

Other health updates

The good news is that basically everyone else seemed to be available, with the exception of Xavier Arreaga, who continues to rehab his injured hamstring. Most notable among that group is Raúl Ruidíaz, who had missed the four previous games but is expected to start against the Timbers. Ruidíaz has 10 goals in 11 career appearances against the Timbers. Cristian Roldan, who showed up as questionable in the team’s injury report under health and safety protocols, was also fully training the last two days and will presumably be available.

Traffic advisory

As if all the pregame activities weren’t enough of a reason to entice you to get to the game early, here’s some added motivation: Traffic around the stadium is probably going to be awful. Not only is there a bunch of construction happening on I-5 south, 99 north and 520, but the Mariners are playing the Toronto Blue Jays with first pitch shortly after Saturday’s kickoff, and also there’s a big event at Seattle Center.

In addition to public transit options, Cascade Bicycle Club is bringing back their bike lockers for this game.

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