TUKWILA — Héber suffered a left hamstring strain during Wednesday’s training session and has been ruled out for Saturday’s match against FC Cincinnati, according to Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. Héber is expected to miss at least 2-4 weeks.
“It is a bummer,” Schmetzer said on Thursday. “I feel bad for Héber because he was playing very, very well but that’s why you have to have a deep roster. We’ll need everyone over the course of the year and this is just one of those moments.”
The good news is that Héber’s injury comes just as Raúl Ruidíaz is returning from his own hamstring injury. Ruidíaz played 10 minutes in last Saturday’s match against Real Salt Lake and looked sharp, nearly scoring a goal.
Schmetzer did not go as far as stating that Ruidíaz would start against FC Cincinnati, however, and said the team still needs to be cautious given the Peruvian’s injury history. He said that Fredy Montero or even Jordan Morris could fill the No. 9 spot.
“[Ruidíaz] is going to tell you he can play 90 minutes,” Schmetzer said. “Just because of Héber’s injury, you don’t want to compound anything by pushing Raúl too early. We’ll listen to Raúl, we’ll listen to the fitness guys and make good decisions.”
Somewhat ironically, Héber had come to the Sounders in an offseason trade mostly as an insurance policy against Ruidíaz’s health. Ruidíaz had missed about half the Sounders’ games dating back to September 2021 with a variety of muscle injuries.
Through the first two games, though, Héber had been good enough that Schmetzer only half-jokingly said choosing between him and Ruidíaz was “going to be horrible.”
Barring the injury, Héber seemed likely to get the nod this week. Héber had started the season with goals in each of his first two games and has been very good against FC Cincinnati during his MLS career, scoring six goals in five career appearances.
Montero did score against FC Cincinnati in last year’s meeting and Morris scored two goals against them in the 2019 season-opener.