After a lengthy absence due to a knee injury and subsequent blood clot, goalkeeper Stefan Frei is set to make his much-anticipated return to action when the Seattle Sounders face Minnesota United FC at home on Saturday (5 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
The news was delivered by head coach Brian Schmetzer following his team's Friday training session at Lumen Field.
Backup Stefan Cleveland had deputized admirably in Frei's absence, with third-stringer Spencer Richey also manning a couple of clean sheets in spot duty. But regaining the services of Frei nonetheless represents one of the final steps in the Sounders' recent gradual return to full strength. The 35-year-old is one of the top backstops in MLS when healthy and is one of the team's most respected leaders on and off the field.
Frei originally injured his knee in a match against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 12, with Schmetzer announcing two weeks later that the goalkeeper was experiencing blood clots that would prolong his absence.
Captain Nicolas Lodeiro has also been working his way back into the fold for Seattle in recent weeks after missing almost all of the first part of the season, adding to that replenished group atop Seattle's depth chart.
Nonetheless, Seattle are still likely to enter the Minnesota game shorthanded. Schmetzer said that star forward Raul Ruidiaz and center back Xavier Arreaga aren't likely to be back in time to play against Minnesota. They were with Peru and Ecuador, respectively, during September's World Cup qualifiers in South America.
"It would have to be a miracle for Xavi and Raul to play," Schmetzer said.
Will Bruin and Fredy Montero figure to be Seattle's top two options at forward in Ruidiaz's absence, while center back Nouhou could make his return to the lineup after a lengthy injury absence of his own.
Recently-arrived Brazilian U22 Initiative signing Leo Chu has also gone through his first week of training with the team and could make his club debut.