CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – It took about 35 seconds for Michael Gspurning and the Seattle Sounders to get a wake-up call in their preseason scrimmage against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Monday.
Vancouver’s Camilo Sanvezzo converted a pass from Atiba Harris for a shot that beat the Sounders’ new top goalkeeper, certainly the lowlight of Gspurning’s debut with his new club.
The three-period match – two 45-minute halves plus a 30-plus minute session for trialists and reserves – ended in a 1-1 draw. Gspurning, the 30-year-old international from Austria, played the first half with his fellow front-line players and was busy, as the Whitecaps controlled the attack and might have taken a 2-0 lead in the 45th minute had Gspurning not tipped away a shot from Vancouver’s Eric Hassli.
“The pressure is on the soccer players always,” said Gspurning, who steps in this year for the retired Kasey Keller. “You always have the pressure to play good, so I don’t think so much about it. Of course with the same questions [about Keller] many times, it’s normal that you can’t avoid this but I can handle it. I’m 30 years old and I’m a veteran player.”
Gspurning saw a lot of rough play from between the posts and from the bench on Monday. The first match of the preseason against another team was a physical one, with 10 yellow cards and one red card issued.
Sounders midfielder Mike Fucito suffered a puncture wound from a tackle by the Whitecaps’ Martín Bonjour in the 14th minute and had to leave the match before the first half ended.
“He got tackled pretty badly so we’ve got to hope that it's not a more serious injury, because he's got stud marks on his knee and up his thigh,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after the match.
Roger Levesque replaced Fucito, who started at forward with Fredy Montero against Vancouver. Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso were flanked by Álvaro Fernández and Mauro Rosales on the midfield wings, and Gspurning’s defenders were Leo González, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Adam Johansson.
WATCH: Whitecaps, Sounders draw in preseason