Sounders captain Nico Lodeiro will be held out of the lineup until the June 19 matchup against the Los Angeles Galaxy, coach Brian Schmetzer said Friday.
Lodeiro suffered a knee injury during training after he appeared for 24 minutes off the bench in a victory against the Galaxy at Lumen Field earlier this month. It was Lodeiro’s only appearance of the season. The Uruguayan Designated Player opened the 2021 season with a left quad injury.
Seattle’s medical staff is trying to get the inflammation in Lodeiro’s knee to subside, according to Schmetzer. If that happens by the May 30 match against Austin FC, Schmetzer would consider playing his star.
“There’s no rush to get him back,” Schmetzer said of having two matches remaining before a FIFA international break that amounts to a 19-day layoff for the Sounders.
“If something miraculous happens and Nico can play against Austin, fine,” Schmetzer continued. “But more than likely we’ll just shut him down and just wait until we reboot the season again on June 19.”
The Sounders (5-0-1) meet Atlanta United FC (2-1-2) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Lumen Field. The Rave Green’s start ties the franchise’s best mark set in 2019. It’s notable to top MLS in the Supporters’ Shield race without Lodeiro, who was named to the MLS Best XI last season.
Seattle also remains without goalkeeper Stefan Frei (knee) and midfielder Josh Atencio (quad), but both are progressing in their return. Schmetzer said he expects Atencio “to be involved in the game” Sunday.
National teams are starting call-ups in preparation for various competitions scheduled during the FIFA break in June. Sounders wingback Alex Roldan has made a splash to open the MLS season — recording two assists and stepping in goal for Frei — and is reportedly being considered for Guatemala’s national team.
Roldan’s father, Caesar, emigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala and his children, including Sounders midfielder Cristian, were born in California. The Roldans also could theoretically play for their mother Ana’s native country, El Salvador.
Cristian chose to play for the U.S. men’s national soccer team. He has 20 caps.
Alex hasn’t been considered for the USMNT and reportedly rejected a future for Guatemala, according to a tweet posted Friday by Carlos Marin, a sports radio broadcaster.
“I don’t have time to play with Guatemala,” Alex is reported as saying, as translated from Spanish. He is bilingual. “I just want to think about my club (Sounders).”
Schmetzer said player decisions about whether to honor call-ups is at their discretion and the club doesn’t interfere. The coach and a Sounders spokesperson doubt Alex made the comments. The player coincidentally was walking by Schmetzer’s office when being discussed by the coaches.
“All five of us were in the room,” Schmetzer said of his staff. “(Assistant) Djimi Traore asked Alex the most important question for me. (He said) ‘Alex, you have to make that decision from your heart. National teams, you play for pride. It’s about the country you represent. If you don’t think you’re going to get a chance with the U.S. and you want to try Guatemala, you have to commit to that fully.’ … We’ll see how it all plays out.”
Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz (Peru) and defender Nouhou (Cameroon) will honor call-ups for their respective national teams. Peru is competing in Copa America, which kicks off June 13 and is expected to take place solely in Argentina due to the civil unrest in Colombia.
Seattle defender Xavier Arreaga is hopeful to represent Ecuador in the Copa America tournament. He was uncertain Friday about the possibility.
“I haven’t received calls from the coach or the staff,” Arreaga said, as translated from Spanish. “I just keep working and keeping it calm.”
The Sounders picked up goalkeeper Andrew Thomas off waivers following the conclusion of the NCAA men’s soccer season. The Stanford standout pre-signed a MLS contract and will be a Sounders first-team player.
Seattle is reinforcing its depth chart after Frei’s injury. Stefan Cleveland started against Los Angeles FC on May 16 and had three saves in collecting a shutout victory for the Sounders at Lumen Field.
The club also signed Abdoulaye “AB” Cissoko, a French defender who played for the Tacoma Defiance in 2020 and joined the Sounders’ first-team during preseason training camp. Cissoko signed a one-year deal with options for 2022 and 2023.
Cissoko will add depth in the midfield after Jordy Delem suffered a torn ACL in the San Jose victory. Delem could be out the remainder of the MLS season.
“The battle between AB and (forward) Will Bruin this preseason and the ability of Abdoulaye to kind of hang with Will gave me the confidence to sign him to the first team,” Schmetzer said. “Abdoulaye will be eligible to be on the bench this weekend against Atlanta. … If the game needs him, we’ll put him on.”