TUKWILA, Wash. – The long-awaited return of goalkeeper Michael Gspurning could come as soon as Sunday.
Gspurning participated fully in training on Tuesday, marking the first time he’s done so since leaving at halftime of the Seattle Sounders’ game on May 2 with a hip injury.
“He felt pretty good with how he came out of it,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters at training on Tuesday. “He had a good training session yesterday, felt good coming out of that as well. He’s definitely moving closer. He won’t play [Wednesday against Chivas USA in the US Open Cup], so I can ease Robin Fraser’s concerns there, but I wouldn’t rule him out necessarily for Sunday and for sure after that he’s probably full in.”
Although Gspurning misplayed a cross or two and admitted to feeling a bit rusty in his first bit of action against live competition in more than two months, he did manage to provide a highlight by stopping a penalty.
“He’s a veteran goalkeeper and with veteran guys you try and talk to them,” Schmid said. “They have a good sense of where bodies, their bodies are at. We’ll know when he’s ready and he’ll know.”
The Sounders have been a much different defensive team without Gspurning. Anchored by the big Austrian, the Sounders allowed just three goals in their first seven games and never gave up more than one. In the 12 games since, they’ve allowed 16 goals, including at least two in four games.
It wasn’t just his shot-stopping and command of the penalty area that the Sounders missed, either.
“His leadership is important for us on the field and you’ve seen his personality,” Schmid said, alluding to Gspurning’s near constant smile and joking nature. “Just getting his personality in the locker room before the game, at halftime, on the field it helps our team as well. He’s a guy who’s pretty positive, he’s funny, but he’s also serious about what it takes to win on that given day. So he helps us in a lot of ways.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.