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Obed Vargas won’t be available, after all

But the good news is João Paulo is closer to returning than previously thought.

Last Updated
2 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The Seattle Sounders will be closer to full strength than they’ve been all season, but not as close as they had hoped. Albert Rusnák is expected to make his first start of the season and Josh Atencio will return from his red-card suspension, which means the Sounders will have a season-high 8 of 11 preferred starters available against the LA Galaxy on Saturday.

But hopes that Obed Vargas would clear concussion protocol in time did not come to fruition.

“He’s not going to play, which is unfortunate,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters. “He hasn’t finished the concussion protocol and safety is the most important.”

That means Schmetzer will need to juggle the lineup again. The big change this week will likely be returning to the preferred 4-2-3-1 shape, albeit with some twists. Cristian Roldan will likely slide into the defensive midfield while Alex Roldan will move up to right mid with Cody Baker slotting in at right back.

“I tend to go high up anyway and it’s just about changing my mindset into becoming a more dynamic player,” Alex Roldan said. “I need to help my teammates in the final third. Raúl just needs one chance and trying to find him in a position to score is my mindset.”

The shape should also give the Sounders a bit more defensive solidity as they prepare to face a Galaxy team that has scored 12 goals in their first five games.

But the Sounders also see some weaknesses to potentially exploit. The Galaxy have given up nine goals, including four on set pieces.

“They’ve had a good start but the way we’re looking at this why can’t this be the start for us?“ Roldan said. “We’re struggling a bit but we’re looking to put in a good performance.”

João Paulo nears return

After telling reporters earlier in the week there was no timetable on João Paulo’s return, Schmetzer said his defensive midfielder could be back as soon as next week’s game against CF Montreal. João Paulo has been ramping up this week and should at least resume training on Tuesday.