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João Paulo, Stef Frei and Albert Rusnák all out another week

Yeimar Gomez Andrade will return this week, providing at least some relief on the injury front.

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RENTON – Heading out on their first of three cross-country roadtrips this season, the Seattle Sounders will do so without several key veterans. For a third straight week, Stefan Frei (hamstring), João Paulo (hip) and Albert Rusnák (ankle) will all miss the match against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, head coach Brian Schmetzer confirmed just before the team headed out of town on Thursday.

Although Schmetzer seemed confident that Frei and Rusnák would likely be available to fully train next week, he was less sure about João Paulo, who has been dealing with a chronic hip issue. Earlier this week he seemed to be nearing a return, but apparently had some sort of discomfort that caused the setback.

“We’re going to shut him down and re-assess next week,” Schmetzer said. “We’re a couple of games into the season, I don’t want to rush him back if it’s longterm. Maybe we’re gun-shy with some injury stuff. We want to make sure when we get the athletes back they’re back 110%.”

Also missing this week are Reed Baker-Whiting (hamstring), Nathan (paperwork), Braudilio Rodrigues (hamstring) and Pedro de la Vega (hamstring).

One player Schmetzer said would be available this week is Yeimar Gomez Andrade, who has missed the first two games while recovering from an undisclosed offseason procedure. Yeimar has been a full training participant all week and is likely to be available off the bench.

“He’s available for minutes,” Schmetzer said. “I won’t hesitate to use him if I need him in Philly.”

‘We need to score’

Schmetzer is as frustrated as anyone at the Sounders’ scoring woes, which has been a consistent area of concern for about 18 months. While the injuries to key players offer a convenient excuse, Schmetzer isn’t going let that be that.

“We need to score,” he said. “We can’t pin it all on the injuries. The guys out there created some chances, and they need to make plays. At the end of the day, inside the penalty box it’s life or death.”

Union’s fixture congestion

The Sounders catch the Union at a potentially opportunistic time. Philadelphia played the first leg of their Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16 series against Pachuca last Tuesday and play the away leg next Tuesday.

The Union used a mostly first-choice lineup in the 0-0 tie and will likely need to rotate their lineup for the Sounders match. Notably, centerbacks Damion Lowe and Jack Elliott didn’t play the first leg after being suspended, and forward Julian Carranza was held out while nursing an injury.

That doesn’t mean the Sounders are expecting anything to come easy.

“Number one, we know how difficult it is to play there and know how hard it is to have Champions Cup with three games in a week and all the buildup and preseason,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said earlier this week. “It’s a team that does really well in boxes, they defend the box really well and attack the box really well. But they might be rotating guys, so how can we go in there and take advantage of guys who haven’t played as many minutes?”