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Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Obed Vargas is set to spend a spell on the sidelines with a lower back stress fracture, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer told media at Starfire Sports on Monday.

It’s an unfortunate setback in what has been a breakout season for Vargas. The 16-year-old Homegrown Player worked his way into the lineup with a string of impressive performances early in the year, including a strong display in the Concacaf Champions League Final. With João Paulo out for the season due to an ACL injury, Vargas had started six consecutive matches in league play.

In total, Vargas made 13 starts from 22 appearances across all competitions in 2022 prior to picking up the injury.

“It’s really unfortunate because the kid was playing well for us and also had a chance to be with the \[United States\] U-20’s,” said Schmetzer.

Schmetzer noted that with this type of injury, rest is the only remedy. Vargas will see a back specialist every couple of weeks to monitor his progress and ensure he’s ready to return.

Central midfield is arguably the deepest position on the Sounders roster, with fellow Homegrowns Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva likely to figure into the rotation in Vargas’ absence. Kelyn Rowe, a versatile and capable veteran, can also contribute in the middle of the park.

“It’s tough but the fact of the matter is we have a deep team,” noted Schmetzer. “He covered for JP. We’ve got Josh coming back. Danny and Kelyn can fit in there. So, the team will be fine, but it’s a bummer for the kid because he was looking pretty good,”

An ill-timed injury like this can be difficult for anyone to deal with, especially a young player establishing himself as a regular in the First Team. But Schmetzer pointed out that Vargas has always displayed a high level of mental fortitude.

“Look he’s a pretty [mentally] tough kid,” said Schmetzer. “He started a game at Motagua… His debut was against Austin as a 15-year-old. So, mentally, he’s down, of course. He wants to play. But he’ll get through it. He’s going to have a long career.”

The Sounders return to action on Saturday as they host Sporting Kansas City (12:08 p.m. PT; ABC, ESPN Deportes, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) at Lumen Field.

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