Brian Schmetzer on Joao Paulo fitness ahead of Seattle Sounders' Club World Cup fixture

Joao Paulo has been absent since May.
Joao Paulo has been absent since May. / Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Schmetzer has hinted that midfielder Joao Paulo could be available for the Seattle Sounders' FIFA Club World Cup campaign.

The Rave Green will become the first MLS team to compete in the tournament on February 4 in Morocco, when they take on the winner of Egypt's Al Ahly and New Zealand's Auckland City.

Seattle earned the right to play in the same tournament as the likes of Real Madrid and Flamengo by winning the 2022 Concacaf Champions League, beating Liga MX giants Club Leon and UNAM Pumas along the way.

The Sounders will need their top players at peak form if they're to stand a chance of going far in the tournament and one player they'd love back is Joao Paulo.

The Brazilian midfielder has been absent since the CCL final in May, where he was forced out early after tearing his ACL.

However, Joao Paulo played 45 minutes in Seattle's 3-2 friendly loss to Swedish side Hammarby on Saturday, naturally leading to questions regarding his availability in Morocco.

“We’ll try to build on his fitness and see how many minutes he can play in Tangier,” Schmetzer said. “He brings leadership, his passing, his decision-making on where to pass the ball, kind of orchestrating our possession is very good.”

Even if he doesn't quite manage to feature at the Club World Cup, Joao Paulo will be ready for action when the Sounders begin the 2023 MLS season at home to the Colorado Rapids on February 26.