TUKWILA, Wash. — Although there had been some hope that Nouhou would be available for Sunday’s match against Sporting KC, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer ruled out his left back.
“We’re not taking any chances,” Schmetzer said following Friday’s training session, in which Nouhou did not participate. “We’re going to let him fully recover physically and then we’ll talk on Monday. He’s going to take some time, eat healthy, get plenty of rest and get back to 100%. What I don’t want to do is bring him back and the exertion sets him back.”
Nouhou has not played since complaining of migraines ahead of the April 22 match and will now have missed three straight league games with what the team has only deemed “illness.”
Somewhat complicating the situation is that Kelyn Rowe, Nouhou’s primary backup, is also out. In the one previous game the Sounders played without both Rowe and Nouhou, Alex Roldan got the start at left back.
Bolstering the roster
To help give a bit more cover at fullback, Schmetzer confirmed the Sounders have signed Cody Baker from Tacoma Defiance. The 19-year-old previously started at left back in the Sounders’ 5-4 win over San Diego Loyal in the U.S. Open Cup. It was not immediately clear if Baker had signed a full Homegrown Player contract or if this is a short-term contract.
Reed Baker-Whiting has also been mentioned as a possible replacement along the backline. He started at right back in the Loyal game, scoring a goal during extra time.
“Both are talented young kids,” Schmetzer said. “They are works in progress but played well against Loyal and there a lot of games those guys might participate in the next three weeks.”
Sounders won’t keep Obed Vargas from U-20 World Cup
The rosters have not yet been announced, but the expectation is that Obed Vargas will be named to the United States’ U-20 World Cup team. The 17-year-old would be playing a full cycle ahead of schedule and would almost certainly be one of the youngest players on the roster.
While Chicago Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson made news by declaring they would not release midfielder Brian Gutierrez and goalkeeper Chris Brady, Schmetzer said the decision to let Vargas go was “automatic.”
“Ezra is in a different spot than I am,” Schmetzer said. “Every team is going to do it differently. Gutierrez is a good player and Ezra needs hin. We’re blessed with having a deep and talented squad.”
In addition to being a rare opportunity to represent their country, the U-20 World Cup also is probably the best chance for these players to be showcased in front of international scouts. While plenty of scouting is now down digitally on platforms like Wyscout, teams are still reluctant to spend upwards of seven figures on players they’ve never seen in person. It’s also a chance for scouts to see how U.S. players look against some of the best young talents from Europe.
The downside is that depending on how far the USA advances, Vargas could miss as many as seven league games.