TUKWILA, Wash. – Although Reed Baker-Whiting was named to the United States’ roster for the upcoming PanAm Games, he will not actually participate. The Seattle Sounders have elected to decline the call-up as Baker-Whiting would have missed the regular-season finale against St. Louis City on Oct. 21 as well as at least part of the MLS playoffs.
Since the PanAm Games are not during an official FIFA window, the Sounders are under no obligation to release Baker-Whiting. Danny Leyva, who is currently on loan to the Colorado Rapids, was also named to the team.
"Because he has played his way into having significant minutes with us, the decision is to hold him back," Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer explained following Thursday's training session. "I can’t afford to lose him for the playoffs, there was some talk about him doing half the camp, but that doesn’t do the U.S. any favors because they can’t make changes. The game at St. Louis, you never know how that’s going to turn out. It’s a critical game for us. We need the three points. The decision from a coaching standpoint was fairly clear."
"His reaction was good," Schmetzer continued. "He was probably looking forward to that. He had been a part of that program for a while. We hope to keep him in that program. Overall it was an okay conversation."
Baker-Whiting played only sparingly during the first two-thirds of the Sounders' season, but has now appeared in 8 of 9 matches since the season resumed after Leagues Cup. That stretch includes three starts, all of which came on the road. The Sounders have gone 1-0-2 in those matches with Baker-Whiting providing an assist in one of them.
"The kid made the most of his opportunities and that’s why the decision was made the way it was," Schmetzer said.
Obed Vargas is currently with the United States' U23 team for a Summer Olympics camp, Nouhou is with Cameroon for a couple of friendlies and Tacoma Defiance midfielder Miguel Herrera is with Mexico's U18 team. Vargas actually played for the United States' in a 2-1 win over Mexico, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal.
Raul Ruidiaz returns to training
After missing all three games last week with a back injury, Raúl Ruidíaz has been a full participant in training this week. On Thursday, he was the star of a finishing drill, repeatedly converting chances from all over the penalty area.
"We’re just trying to make sure he’s 100% healthy, which it looks like he is," Schmetzer said. "As far as playing time is concerned, when he gets his opportunity he’ll be ready.
"We’re going to let him loose again. He’s been a really good goal-scorer for this club. Tough choices, but we’ll make those as the time comes."