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Raul Ruidiaz returns to Sounders practice after missing two matches

In this Nov. 8, 2018 photo, Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz celebrates after he scored a goal against the Portland Timbers in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
In this Nov. 8, 2018 photo, Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz celebrates after he scored a goal against the Portland Timbers in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
By Jayda Evans Seattle Times

Raul Ruidiaz returned to Sounders training Tuesday.

The striker missed the team’s past two matches because of an ankle injury. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer was able to call on veteran forward Will Bruin to fill the void.

Bruin seized the opportunity – scoring two goals in a 3-2 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday – but suffered a hamstring injury in the process.

Bruin was limping when he left the match in the 79th minute.

“He’ll be day-to-day,” Schmetzer said of Bruin. “We’ll try and get him ready for the weekend. If he makes it, great. If not, we’ll push him for the San Jose game.”

The Sounders (5-0-1) are preparing for a tough stretch where they will play undefeated Los Angeles FC (6-0-1) twice, with the San Jose Earthquakes (1-5-0) sandwiched in the middle.

Seattle is winless against LAFC, which is in its second MLS season. Last year, the Sounders lost 1-0 in Los Angeles on a Laurent Ciman free-kick goal in stoppage time.

That game buried deep in the past, it was confidence that permeated from players after training Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex. The Sounders are off to their best start in franchise history and are unbeaten in their past 11 regular-season matches, dating to last year.

Midfielder Cristian Roldan called the upcoming three games a chance to make a statement for the Sounders. Midfielder Gustav Svensson provided more insight to the team’s mission against LAFC.

“We want to show them that we are the better team,” he said. “We want to show them that we are stronger than they are and we have more quality players than they have. It’s more about showing us and our fans and the entire MLS that we are stronger than them.”

Schmetzer hasn’t settled on a rotation, but having Ruidiaz back in the lineup gives Seattle a different look up front. He scored a goal in each of the Sounders’ opening three games.

Ruidiaz suffered his injury during a scoreless draw against Vancouver on March 30. He played 87 minutes before seeking medical attention and later posting a picture of his swollen foot on his Instagram account.

“Will is a different player than Raul, but you know what you’ll get from him,” Svensson said in comparing the forwards. “He’s very good in the box. Raul is a little bit different, he’s more fluid and wants the ball more on the feet. It’s going to be a different game when Raul plays.”

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