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Injury concerns continue to haunt Sounders

Stef Frei and Yeimar are likely to return to starting spots, but it’s less clear if Albert Rusnák will be available or when João Paulo will return.

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2 min read

RENTON – The injury situation surrounding the Seattle Sounders continues to slowly improve, but probably not at the pace anyone had hoped.

The good news is that Stefan Frei has fully resumed training and may even be at the point where he’s ready to resume his starting spot. Similarly, after coming off the bench in the last game, Yeimar Gomez Andrade has been a full participant in training this week and could potentially reclaim his spot in the starting lineup.

But injury news was less positive elsewhere. While it seemed reasonable that Albert Rusnák would be fully training this week after making his debut, instead he’s been mostly on the side and had to receive a cortisone shot to reduce pain in his injured ankle. Even if he’s able to play, it will likely only be a reserve role.

The situations with João Paulo (hip) and Reed Baker-Whiting (hamstring) are even more confounding as neither even have clear timelines for a return.

A couple of weeks ago, João Paulo seemed to be on the verge of returning but then had a setback, which caused the training staff to effectively shut him down and re-evaluate their approach.

“It’s early in season, we want to make sure we get JP right because he’s a critical part of the team,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said on Thursday. “I don’t know if there’s a timeline where we can guarantee he’ll be back all the way, but we are throwing everything at it. We’re trying to get him back.”

Baker-Whiting’s injury stretches back to last season. He first suffered a torn hamstring in the regular-season finale on Oct. 21, 2023, and tried to return on Nov. 26, but immediately hurt himself again. The 18-year-old then suffered another setback during preseason and has been working his way back ever since. On Wednesday, the Sounders gave Baker-Whiting an MRI and are now awaiting results, but even if they are clear, he’s likely weeks away from returning.

Pedro de la Vega (hamstring) and Braudilio Rodrigues (hamstring) are also at least several weeks out from returning, as well.