The weekend slate in MLS Week 15 starts with a marquee Western Conference showdown when Seattle Sounders FC host LAFC at Lumen Field Saturday afternoon (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes).
While the Sounders are getting a sizable contingent back following the June international break, they’ll be without star striker Raul Ruidiaz for at least two games due to a hamstring injury.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer delivered the news after Thursday’s training session, fresh off Ruidiaz scoring twice in their 4-0 home victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC midweek.
“He’ll be out for a couple games,” Schmetzer said. “His MRI came back and he does have a slight pull, so that wasn’t good news.”
WATCH: Doblete! Ruidiaz on fire with brace for Seattle Sounders
The setback comes as Ruidiaz has amassed seven goals in his last six games across all competitions, a run that started with his decisive brace in the Concacaf Champions League Final second-leg victory over Liga MX’s Pumas UNAM. And that’s helped spark Seattle’s rise up the table, as they now sit seventh in the West with one or two games in hand on those above them.
As for when Ruidiaz can return, Schmetzer noted anywhere from their June 29 hosting of CF Montréal to their July 9 hosting of the Portland Timbers as possibilities. It’s a wait-and-see period, with some veteran options likely to take the No. 9 role until the Peruvian international and Designated Player is back.
“We’ve got Will [Bruin], we’ve got Fredy [Montero], the team’s playing well,” Schmetzer said. “I don’t want to rush him back.”
Schmetzer delivered some positive injury news in that center back Yeimar Gomez Andrade should return against LAFC. The Sounders also have welcomed back defenders Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) and Nouhou Tolo (Cameroon), midfielders Albert Rusnak (Slovakia) and Cristian Roldan (US), and forward Jordan Morris (US) after they represented their respective countries.
Now, it’s about getting prepared to face Supporters’ Shield-leading LAFC and ensure that Ruidiaz’s injury isn’t too impactful. Seattle could make it five wins in seven league matches, emerging from their CCL-induced slow start.
“We’ve got a really good group here, obviously a really good result the other day,” said Morris, fresh off a late equalizer for the USMNT at El Salvador. “It just shows the quality that we have in this team. But an exciting match coming up this weekend. They’re a good team. It’s always a little bit of a rivalry I think with them, with LAFC, and they’re doing really well so it’ll be a big game."