The first practice since the Sounders returned from the first two games of their road trip saw the return of at least one smiling face from the World Cup, though the questions after practice mainly revolved around the debut of the newest Designated Player.
Roman Torres returned to the practice field, though he wasn’t involved in the main training. Coach Brian Schmetzer said his availability for the game against Atlanta depends upon his progress, but noted the injury he sustained that forced him off the pitch in Panama’s last game was a rough one.
On to the newest Designated Player, Schmetzer indicated the availability of Raúl Ruidíaz is now in the hands of the U.S. Government, and so long as they don’t screw things up (paraphrasing the coach here), he should be able to feature this weekend. Reading between the lines, it doesn’t look like he’ll be at practice this week while he awaits clearance. Based on that, while Schmetzer said he is fit, it’s fairly unlikely he would start.
It was an otherwise light practice, as a number of the starters who played on Sunday were working inside. Both Kelvin Leerdam and Felix Chenkam were out and appearing to be practicing in full, though again this was a relatively light session. We’ll be sure to get more updates on Leerdam in particular as we go through the week.
One interesting question raised during Schmetzer’s post practice scrum revolved around the status of Clint Dempsey. It did not escape notice that though he was healthy, he started neither of the games, and came off the bench. Schmetzer said a number of factors go into those decisions, and that Dempsey is a “team guy.” That said, with the return of the World Cup players, and additions in the transfer window, and the return to fitness of players, things are going to get tight. Watch this space.