Seattle Sounders FC have enjoyed a rip-roaring start to the 2023 MLS season, but now must continue without a key attacking piece.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer confirmed Thursday that Héber will miss around 2-4 weeks after suffering a left hamstring strain in training. The news comes just before Seattle travel for arguably Matchday 3’s marquee game, a Saturday evening visit to FC Cincinnati (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).
The Brazilian striker, acquired in an offseason trade from New York City FC, has two goals on 10 shots. He scored in both of Seattle’s home victories thus far, storming past Colorado Rapids (4-0) and then Real Salt Lake (2-0) with convincing displays. The Rave Green are one of MLS's four 2-0 teams.
“I feel bad for Héber because, look, he was playing very, very well,” Schmetzer said. “But that's why you've got to have a good roster. We'll need everybody over the course of the year and this is just one of those moments.”
One solution may involve Raúl Ruidíaz, the Peruvian international and Designated Player that Héber was deputizing in the first place. Ruidíaz, who picked up a muscular injury of his own during preseason camp, subbed on against RSL for the last nine minutes and stoppage time.
Schmetzer stopped short of saying Ruidíaz will get the starting nod, instead noting both club all-time leading scorer Fredy Montero and US international Jordan Morris could assume No. 9 duties.
“He's going to tell you he can play 90 minutes,” Schmetzer said of Ruidíaz. “[But] just because of Heber's injury, you don't want to compound anything by pushing Raúl too much too early when you have Fredy and, again, Jordan can certainly play up front.”
Aside from Héber, Schmetzer said Seattle have a clean bill of health. For a team that’s now leading MLSsoccer.com’s Power Rankings and coming off a 2022 Concacaf Champions League title, it’s all about giving Cincy a serious test at TQL Stadium.
“You're expected to win your home games, or we wanted to make Lumen Field a fortress. Can we replicate that on the road?,” Schmetzer posed.
“It's hard in MLS, but it's not impossible. We have a good game plan. I'm confident that we can go to Cincy and get a result. We're going to try and keep the train rolling.”