SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders were hoping for a clean bill of health ahead of their rematch against LAFC following a humbling defeat in Week 8.
They probably won't get it.
Following three more injuries sustained during Wednesday night's 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders now approach Sunday's rematch in Seattle with many more questions than answers (3:30 pm ET | ESPN & ESPN Deportes in USA; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
Has star forward Raul Ruidiaz fully recovered from the heel bruise that has kept him out of four straight games? Will a strained hamstring continue to force his backup, Will Bruin, out of action? On Saturday, Schmetzer labeled the status of both strikers as day to day.
Schmetzer also confirmed that winger Victor Rodriguez is undergoing concussion protocol following a midweek collision with San Jose’s Jackson Yueill, while starting Sounders midfielder Gustav Svensson also strained his hamstring and left back Nouhou sprained his ankle.
"We put Jordy Delem in there and he's going to be great," Schmetzer said about replacing Svensson on the eve of the Week 9 grudge match against LAFC. He also hinted that GA Cup 15-year-old star Danny Leyva would "probably be in the 18."
"Harry [Shipp] scored two goals in two games and Handwalla [Bwana] looked pretty good [on Wednesday]," Schmetzer continued as he outlined some of his other lineup options.
Even a full-strength side would face a formidable challenge against LAFC – the early-season Supporters’ Shield leaders who just blasted a rotated Seattle lineup by three goals a week ago. Midfielder Harry Shipp said it’s up to his team’s depth pieces to figure how to adjust and prevent a repeat.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Shipp. “They’re obviously a good team, completely different style of team than [San Jose]. We’ve got to come out, we’ve got to win, we’ve got to get three points. You put aside the revenge factor of not being satisfied with how we played this weekend, for us, just from a pure momentum standpoint, we need to come out and get three points no matter who the 11 are out on the field.”
Ruidiaz was spotted at the club's stadium during Wednesday's pregame signing autographs while sporting a walking boot. Should he sit again, Sunday’s game could be Seattle’s third straight operating without its top two strikers.
“It puts a little bit of pressure on us going into Sunday,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “Short rest, this can really show what type of team we are. You get a good result against LAFC, you’re feeling pretty good, you’re flying.”