Player Features

João Paulo makes long-awaited return after suffering injury early in the season


After a frustrating start to the 2024 season, Sounders FC’s win over CF Montréal at Lumen Field last weekend generated plenty of excitement.

Beyond the cathartic win and five-goal attacking outburst, Saturday’s match marked the long-awaited return of stalwart defensive midfielder João Paulo, who missed the first five matches of the season due to a hip injury.

“It was good to be back and feel the energy again,” said João Paulo.

João Paulo entered as a substitute in the final 11 minutes of the match. Though his time was minimal, his presence injected energy into the stadium from the second he stepped onto the pitch.

“The crowd loved it, JP loved it…It was good,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Good for him and good for the fans.”

Leading up to the Seattle side’s April 6 match, the team struggled to secure its first win of the 2024 season. With João Paulo back in the mix, the team is looking to capitalize on the momentum from the Montréal game and jumpstart their season. 

“He definitely looks to play both penetrating balls but also vertical passes into the attack from the midfield and that's something that we've lacked,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan. “Also the running off the ball is something that we've lacked this year, and so João can bring that bit of unpredictability when he's on the ball.”

It was a “frustrating” period for the Brazilian player, given that he was unable to contribute on the pitch over the last few months. So, to finally be able to play again, meant the world to him.

“It was kind of emotional because the team was in bad form before Saturday so when you watch from outside it is hard,” said João Paulo. “I wanted to help, I wanted to be there.”

His teammates were happy to have him available again as well.

“Especially with us playing like this, to add a player of his quality back into the mix, it's just gonna be incredible,” said forward Jordan Morris. “We love playing with him.”

Last season, João Paulo was a force on both offense and defense. He contributed five assists and 27 key passes during the regular season while also recording 45 clearances and 48 interceptions, ultimately supporting the team to the No. 2 seed position heading into the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs. 

And he is determined to showcase similar influence once again as he slowly transitions back into playing consistent minutes with the Rave Green.

“I'm going to try to do the same stuff that I always do,” said João Paulo. “Obviously, it will take some time to get to the same level, but right now my focus is to do the little things, even if I'm not playing, if I'm not starting, to help the guys that are starting like Josh [Atencio], Obed [Vargas], Danny [Leyva] and the other guys as well.”

“My focus is to help as best I can.”



Grab your tickets and celebrate our 50th Anniversary Season!



Pick your matches and unlock exclusive benefits such as merchandise, on-field experiences, Suite upgrades, and more!