Raúl Ruidíaz has not yet resumed full training for the Seattle Sounders, but head coach Brian Schmetzer said he expected the striker to at least be available for Saturday’s match against Real Salt Lake. Schmetzer also said that Obed Vargas would be available. Vargas has been out since last June.
.@SoundersFC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer spoke today after training and said both Raul Ruidiaz and Obed Vargas will be available for this Saturday's game against RSL. Video below. #EBFG— Jackson Felts (@JacksonBFelts) March 1, 2023
GK Stefan Frei also spoke after training. Full press conference here: https://t.co/lPamOzqu61 pic.twitter.com/rHLbWEqs3x
Schmetzer said last week that Ruidíaz had been campaigning to play in the regular-season opener, but ultimately decided rest was more prudent.
Schmetzer was non-committal about the possibility of Ruidíaz starting but that would seem unlikely given that he’s been out for several weeks and has history of muscle injuries. Still, just having him in any capacity would be a boon. Ruidíaz has averaged .68 goals per 90 minutes during parts of five seasons with the Sounders and still averaged .62 goals per 90 last season, despite being significantly limited by injuries.
Although Ruidíaz played all 90 minutes in the Sounders’ 1-0 loss to Al Ahly in the Club World Cup on Feb. 4, he missed the last preseason game on Feb. 18 and the MLS regular-season opener last Sunday after suffering a hamstring injury. Ruidíaz has struggled with muscle injuries since late in the 2021 season when he missed 7 of 8 matches down the stretch. He then was limited to just 18 regular-season appearances last year, mostly due to various other muscle injuries.
In part to address those injury concerns, the Sounders made a trade to acquire Héber from New York City FC. The Brazilian looked particularly sharp in the regular-season opener against the Colorado Rapids, scoring a goal and being involved in several quality goal-scoring chances. He posted 1.29 expected goals in the match, better than any single-game total for Ruidíaz last season.