Freddy Juarez, who left his position as head coach of Real Salt Lake on Friday, is going to join the Sounders FC as an assistant, according to a report from The Athletic.
Juarez, 43, has multiple connections with Seattle’s organization. He joined RSL as an academy coach in 2010. At that time, Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders president of soccer and general manager, held a similar position with RSL through 2014.
Also, on staff at RSL during Juarez’s tenure was Craig Waibel, who was hired by Lagerwey in April to be the Sounders’ senior vice president of soccer operations and sporting director.
Waibel joined Real Salt Lake in 2014 as an assistant coach and moved up to technical director before replacing Lagerwey as RSL general manager in 2015 through 2019.
Juarez became a first-team assistant coach in 2017 and an interim head coach in 2019, helping RSL reach the Western Conference semifinals. He was named the head coach in 2020.
RSL (7-7-6) is currently sixth in Western Conference standings.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said earlier this week the club was close to announcing new technical staff. He has two assistant coach vacancies after Gonzalo Pineda accepted the lead job with Atlanta United and Djimi Traore left for a post in Europe that is still pending announcement.
“Freddy’s a great coach,” Schmetzer said after Friday’s training at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. “I can’t comment on things that aren’t confirmed.”
Pineda and Traore are former Sounders players who helped the club win the MLS Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup in 2014. As assistants for Schmetzer, they helped the Sounders win three Western Conference championships and the 2019 league title.
The duo was part of the decision this season for the Sounders to change their starting formation. Seattle opened on an MLS-record 13-match unbeaten streak and went a record 949 minutes without conceding a goal through the run of play.
Pineda tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 10, making a draw against FC Dallas as his last on the Sounders bench. Traore was part of a remarkable seven-day stretch last week where the Sounders defeated their rival Portland Timbers 6-2 at Providence Park and collected wins in Dallas (1-0) and Columbus (2-1).
“It’s different,” Sounders midfielder Nico Lodeiro said of training this week without Pineda and Traore. “Of course, we miss them but life continues. We need to come here with the same attitude and the same happiness.”
The Sounders (12-3-6) sit atop the Western Conference table. The Rave Green will host a Cascadia derby doubleheader at Lumen Field on Sunday. OL Reign will face the Portland Thorns FC at 4 p.m. at the stadium followed by the Sounders-Timbers match at 7:30 p.m.
Sounders keeper Stefan Frei is fully cleared to play, Schmetzer announced Friday. Frei has missed 17 matches, including a Leagues Cup win, due to a sprained knee injury that developed blood clots.
Stefan Cleveland and Spencer Richey have replaced Frei in goal. Both exceeded expectations. Cleveland accumulated a 7-3-5 record through all competitions with three clean sheets and conceding 15 goals. Richey logged two wins, both shutouts.
Nouhou is also ready to play in his first Sounders match since May. He suffered an adductor injury while on international duty with his Cameroon national team. The defender played 30 minutes in Wednesday’s All-Star Game win.
Schmetzer didn’t state whether either would return to the starting lineup Sunday.
“I was going to get Nouhou in the game against Columbus, if possible,” Schmetzer said about the road win last week where the Sounders scored two goals in the final two minutes of regulation.
“He was scheduled to get a run out but just the way that game manifested itself, the way it unfolded, I wasn’t able to put Nouhou on,” Schmetzer continued. “Was it ideal (for him to play in the All-Star Game), was there some risk? Of course. But Nouhou’s a tough kid. He was happy to be back out on the field.”
Brazilian striker Leo Chu is expected to be in attendance for Sunday’s match. He was signed by the Sounders at the close of the secondary transfer window earlier this month to add pace in the attack that the roster is lacking with winger Jordan Morris out with a knee injury.
Leo Chu, 21, is considered a long-term project. Joining the Sounders is his first venture outside of his home country. He’ll have to pass MLS protocols for COVID before participating in training.
“We’re going to try and get him safely integrated within the group,” Schmetzer said. “Hopefully (Leo Chu) gets a little guidance from JP (Brazilian midfielder Joao Paulo), he starts learning (English), he gets to know his teammates and we get a productive player.”
Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz (Peru), and midfielders Cristian Roldan (U.S.) and Alex Roldan (El Salvador) were formally called up by their respective national teams to compete in World Cup qualifying matches during September’s FIFA window.
The Roldans will face each other Sept. 2 as the U.S. men’s national team plays El Salvador first in three matches during the break. Peru’s opening match is against Uruguay on Sept. 2.
Seattle’s Oct. 23 match against Sporting Kansas City at Lumen Field was moved to 12:30 p.m. The game was previously scheduled for 6 p.m.