SEATTLE – Raúl Ruidíaz will miss Wednesday's game against the LA Galaxy with an unspecified back injury, as he remains in the hospital and is in “a lot” of pain. Ruidíaz apparently suffered the injury during training on Friday, but had hoped to play against Nashville SC on Saturday only to be pulled from the lineup after going through warmups.
“His back is still sore,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said following Tuesday's training session at Lumen Field. “He’s in the hospital, he’s in a lot of pain. He’s not here training. They did a battery of tests to figure out what it is. They still don’t have a good handle on it other than they’ve ruled out some bigger things. As soon as that calms down, he’ll be back.”
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The back injury is just the latest in what has become a laundry list of setbacks for Ruidíaz. He had been coming back from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the win over the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 20. That was the fourth time he'd missed at least one game due to injury this season and he missed 16 games mostly due to various injuries last year. He's been limited to just 18 appearances in league play and has just five goals in 1,053 minutes this season, despite the team taking various measures to keep him fit. This will almost certainly be his least productive season since he became a professional in 2009.
Rusnak, Morris return
On a more positive note, Albert Rusnák and Jordan Morris have both been full participants in training this week after missing Saturday's game. Rusnák had missed the game while out with an unspecified illness, while Morris was with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's first child.
Asked if Morris could benefit from a “new dad bump”, Schmetzer said: “It’s the honeymoon period. Give it three weeks when he’s up at 2 in the morning. We’re going to ride this as long as we can right now.”
No pressure, only opportunity
The Sounders can clinch a playoff spot with a win, or with a tie if Minnesota United also drops points in their road game against LAFC.
But simply making the playoffs has never been the Sounders’ goal. They are more focused on positioning themselves for a MLS Cup run. The Sounders are currently third in the Western Conference and need to finish in the Top 4 to have home-field advantage in the first round.
“It’s not about pressure at this point; it’s about how can we set ourselves up for the playoffs?” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “How can we set ourselves up for more home games? And then take advantage of those home games because we haven’t this year. Gathering up some momentum and getting some of that pressure off, but we want to put ourselves in a good spot going forward.”