The Seattle Sounders got an unexpected surprise today, the team will resume league play on June 19th with Raul Ruidiaz available for selection. The Peruvian striker had been called in for national team duty for the recent world cup qualifying matches and the Copa America tournament. That all changed today when Peru’s National Team Head Coach Ricardo Gareca announced the final 26-man roster for Copa America with Ruidiaz left off the squad.
It comes as a shock to many as Ruidiaz has been an integral part of the national team in Peru’s return to the World Cup after the country failed to reach the final in 36 years. Turning 31 years old near the end of July this year, Raul is still in his prime years as an athlete and has plenty to contribute for both club and country. It is still unconfirmed the reasoning from Gareca to cut Ruidiaz from the roster.
While it comes as negative for Peru, it’s certainly seen as a positive for the Sounders. With the roster stretched already thin by injuries, international duty would stretch the depth chart even further. Had Raul made the roster for Copa America with the tournament running from June 11 to July 10, the Sounders very well could have had resumed MLS play with Ruidiaz missing a potential 5-6 regular season matches at maximum. The last time Ruidiaz appeared in a Copa America tournament which was 2019, he helped Peru finish runners up to Brazil in the final. He also missed four regular season matches and one US Open Cup matches and the Sounders were shorthanded in strikers while he was away when Will Bruin injured his ACL in a practice in June.
With the 2021 MLS season still in a relative state of unknown added with the Sounders not breaking away with a comfortable margin they would have liked to have had in the standings from the last home stand, it’s imperative that they gain distance now that Ruidiaz has returned earlier than expected. The extended period of time required for Frei and Lodeiro to recover from their injuries certainly increases their urgency to do just that as well. Currently Ruidiaz has the second most goals in Major League Soccer with 6 goals in his 7 appearances so far this season.