TUKWILA, Wash. – Already in the midst of an injury-ravaged start to their 2018 season, the Seattle Sounders just lost the player they could arguably least afford to lose.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters on Thursday at Seattle’s training session at Starfire Sports Complex that forward Will Bruin has “a partial tear in his plantar fascia” and that the timeline for his return is “a matter of weeks not days.” Bruin originally picked up the injury in Seattle’s 2-1 road win over Toronto FC last week.
“It’s another considerable injury,” Schmetzer said. “So that was a massive blow to the squad. But he is determined to come back sooner than the doctors predict because he’s a tough kid. …I’m going to give you guys updates as the week progresses. If he’s healthy he’s going to play but at this point, I don’t know.”
The injury represents yet another blow to Seattle’s already-shorthanded attack, which lost Jordan Morris to a torn ACL in Concacaf Champions League play earlier this year and has been without winger Victor Rodriguez all season due to a knee injury. Bruin was leading the team with three goals to go along with two assists in seven games and, perhaps more importantly, was also the only player on the roster with the skill-set of a true No. 9 in Morris’ absence.
Without Bruin, Schmetzer cited Lamar Neagle, Henry Wingo, Magnus Wolff Eikrem and rookie Handwalla Bwana as players who will need to step up in his absence and help give Clint Dempsey the support he lacked playing as the lone forward in Seattle’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
The Sounders are on a bye this week before they play two games in a row against Western Conference foe Real Salt Lake, first at home on May 26, then away at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 2.
“Clint certainly can play up there but we need to give him help,” Schmetzer said. “We need to make sure we give him the help he needs to be effective. Lamar, Henry, Handwalla, those guys need to be goal-dangerous. Magnus needs to be goal-dangerous, if Victor can come back he can provide something for us. How we set up the team for RSL [twice], there will be some different tweaks in there. But we’re confident that we can create goals.”
Seattle’s depth will be stretched even further in the coming weeks, as Schmetzer also revealed on Thursday that all three of his players who have made the preliminary rosters for their World Cup teams have already left the club.
That means midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (Uruguay), Roman Torres (Panama) and Gustav Svensson (Sweden) will all be gone until after their participation in the tournament concludes. Lodeiro and Torres are currently rehabbing injuries, while Schmetzer said he felt it was “only fair” to give Svensson ample opportunity to compete for a starting spot for Sweden given his standout play and reliability for Seattle since his arrival before last season.
As for how his team will keep its head above water given all those absences, Schmetzer said he had a simple message for his players at Thursday’s practice.
“This is it,” he said. “This is who we are for the next little bit. So, let’s get out and get after it.”