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João Paulo returns to training

Sounders midfielder could potentially play as soon as this weekend if he continues to train pain free.

Last Updated
2 min read
Photo via Sounders FC Communications

RENTON – There were a couple of welcome additions to Seattle Sounders training on Tuesday. The biggest one was João Paulo, who was able to participate in nearly all of the session and could potentially make his 2024 debut against CF Montreal on Saturday if he continues on his current trajectory.

João Paulo has been out since playing 73 minutes against Odense BK in the Sounders’ penultimate preseason game after experiencing some hip pain. He had been trending toward a return a few weeks ago, but then suffered a setback and had been unable to fully train ever since.

“Let’s see how he feels today,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer cautioned. “Then he’ll be in full, full tomorrow with no restrictions … we’ll see.”

The other notable addition to training was Reed Baker-Whiting. Although he was only able to participate in warm-up and is likely at least a couple weeks away from playing, it marked the first time in over a month he was even allowed to do that.

“We’re just giving him a taste,” Schmetzer said. “He probably needs a full week and then another full week.”

Baker-Whiting’s hamstring injury has proven especially frustrating. Toward the end of last year, the 18-year-old had been pushing himself into the conversation to potentially be a regular starter. But in the regular-season finale, he suffered a torn hamstring that first presented as pretty standard. He was able to return about a month later for the playoff game against LAFC, but re-injured himself almost immediately.

Baker-Whiting seemed to be trending toward a return in preseason, only to suffer a setback and the team has been bringing him along extra carefully ever since.

“We need everyone back,” Sounders midfielder Albert Rusnák said. “We need guys to get healthy. We’ve had a lot of injuries. That’s been a challenge so far. When we have everyone back, the whole team will be more comfortable.”

Other injury updates

  • Obed Vargas, who missed the last two games while in concussion protocol, was a full participant and appears to be on pace to return to action.
  • Jordan Morris was given the day off of training after complaining of some tightness in his calf. Schmetzer said he expected Morris to resume training on Wednesday.