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Raúl Ruidíaz likely out, again

This is already the third time the Sounders forward has been sidelined this season.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

TUKWILA, Wash. — Raúl Ruidíaz left Wednesday’s training session a little early sporting a limp. A day later, it still wasn’t entirely clear how serious of an injury it was, but he will almost certainly miss Saturday’s game against Minnesota United. That would mark the third time this season that Ruidíaz has missed a match with a muscle injury.

“We’re doing an extensive evaluation on Raúl just because it’s been a recurring issue,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer explained on Thursday. “He’s not at training today because he’s at the doctor, getting an MRI on his hamstring and lower back, to see if it’s nerves or something. We’re trying to just figure it out.”

The injury happened on a non-contact play just as Ruidíaz was scoring a goal.

The Sounders have attempted a variety of approaches since Ruidíaz first started dealing with muscle injuries in 2021. A year ago, he missed almost half the Sounders’ games and was limited to just 1,300 minutes while getting sidelined at least four times with various muscle injuries.

This year, he’s only started two games and been on a relatively strict program that has limited his minutes when he does play. Somewhat ironically, he seemed to finally be rounding into shape and was coming off two straight games with a goal and had just played a season-best 82 minutes.

The good news is that the Sounders actually seem reasonably well-equipped to handle Ruidíaz’s absence this year. In the six games Ruidíaz hasn’t started, the Sounders have averaged 2.5 goals and 2.05 expected goals as opposed to .5 goals and 1.3 xG in his two starts. The Sounders’ expected-goal difference (xGD) is also .85 better when he’s off the pitch than on it this year, according to data from

Who starts in his place?

The last three times Ruidíaz didn’t start, Jordan Morris got the nod in his place. But Morris is unlikely to start this time as he missed the first half of the week while he was with the United States national team and played 89 minutes against Mexico on Wednesday. Morris nearly scored a goal and set up the USA’s equalizer on a dangerous pass that deflected off a defender and into Jesus Ferreira’s path.

“We have the outputs for the game,” Schmetzer said. “They were high, he put in a lot of work. He’s doing regen now, he’ll do half-regen, half-training tomorrow and he’ll be involved in the game.”

That likely means the starting spot will fall to Héber, who spelled Ruidíaz in the first two games of the season and scored in both games. The Sounders’ xGD when he’s on the field is +1.15 better than when he’s not.

Other injuries

Cristian Roldan remains in concussion protocol and still has some benchmarks to hit before resuming full training, meaning he’s likely out for the game. Josh Atencio is also nearing a return but the earliest he’ll be available is the U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday. Altogether, it’s another chance for the Sounders to test their depth.

“The team we roll out against Minnesota is a very good team and some subs that can come on and do a job,” Schmetzer said. “We’re very pleased. We’ll be a little lighter but that’s fine.”

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