Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer has insisted he won’t rush the return of Raul Ruidiaz, despite the ‘need’ for the Peruvian striker’s goals.
Ruidiaz has been one of the most clinical strikers in MLS for years now and this season has been no different, with the 32-year-old hitting the net five times in eight starts – a record that extends to eight goals in 18 appearances across all competitions.
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However, therein lies the problem; Ruidiaz has been restricted by injury to just 774 minutes of MLS action in 2022.
Seattle travel to the LA Galaxy on Friday enduring a run of just two wins in their last eight games, while they’ve lost their last two against Atlanta United and Real Salt Lake by 2-1 scorelines.
The Sounders are 10th in the Eastern Conference, but just a point behind this weekend’s opposition who are sixth. It’s a huge clash in the race to make the MLS Cup Playoffs, but that doesn’t mean Schmetzer will push Ruidiaz harder than what he’s currently capable of.
“We need Raul,” Schmetzer told reporters on Thursday. “We need him to finish out the rest of the year healthy. We’ll see how the LA game goes as far as his minutes. We need him on the field, but I’m not going to risk him for re-injury. It’s a really interesting dilemma we have because he wants to play and he wants to help the team. I want him to play.”
Schmetzer hinted that he may use Ruidiaz from the start on Friday in a bid to get ahead before resting the 50-time Peru international.
“It depends on the physical outputs,” he added. “We’ll see. Those are in-game decisions based on what we see, feel, how the game is going. I’d love to be up and take him off a little bit.”
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