TUKWILA — Jordy Delem was the talk of Sounders practice Tuesday.
The midfielder had an impressive header for his Martinique national team against Mexico on Sunday in pool play of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The score in the 84th minute put his country a goal behind the powerhouse and Martinique still lost 3-2.
“I was in the perfect spot in the right moment,” Delem said of his score, jumping to connect with the ball and snapping his head toward the near post with enough force to ricochet the ball into the goal.
Martinique was knocked out of the tournament with the defeat, with Mexico and Canada finishing ahead of it in Group A. Fortunately for the Sounders, Sunday’s match against Mexico was played in North Carolina, allowing Delem to return to his Major League Soccer team in time for practice Tuesday.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, who watched Delem’s match, said assistant Gonzalo Pineda was particularly proud of Delem. Pineda, a former center midfielder, works with defensive players and helps them to become scoring threats.
Delem started for his national team’s three tournament games. The minutes he played could pose a problem when the Sounders resume MLS play on Saturday against Vancouver.
“We’ll assess him Thursday and Friday,” said Schmetzer of Delem, who has started the past eight Sounders MLS games. “We’re happy to have him back. Happy to have another body.”
The Sounders are also expecting Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) and Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) to return within the week. Their countries also didn’t advance past pool play, with Ecuador competing in the Copa America in Brazil.
As for other Sounders, U.S. players Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan face Panamanian defender Roman Torres on Wednesday in Gold Cup group play. Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, named Monday to the MLS All-Star team, and Peruvian forward Raul Ruidiaz play against each other on Saturday in the Copa America quarterfinals.
Because of the continuing absences, forward Justin Dhillon joined the Sounders at practice this week. He signed a USL contract with the Tacoma Defiance in March and could snag a short-term deal with the first team should first-choice forwards Ruidiaz and Morris advance with their national teams in the international tournaments.
Seattle is also hampered at the forward position because of Will Bruin’s season-ending knee injury suffered last week.
Dhillon started 10 of his 14 matches with the Defiance. He has scored six goals and played 902 minutes.
“It’s an option for us,” said Schmetzer, who also has Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez as a possibility at forward. “We’re certainly looking at it. There’s obviously some contractual things we’d need to discuss and look through.”
With Saturday’s game still a few days away, Schmetzer preferred to discuss the solid performances of his players with their respective national teams, especially Delem.
“I feel a little bit tired,” Delem said. “But it’s a job, so it doesn’t matter. I have to be ready for the club.”