TUKWILA, Wash. – There’s still no word on whether or not he’ll actually play, but Michael Gspurning is just happy to be back to traveling with the Seattle Sounders.
The Austrian goalkeeper made the trip to New York for Sunday’s game, signaling his most significant step toward ending his more than two-month absence due to a hip strain.
“I spoke with the coach, I tried to make the kicks [Wednesday] and it worked out well,” Gspurning told reporters following Thursday’s practice session. “I feel ready to play. What we do in New York is up to the coach. I’m just happy to be on this trip, I’ve missed so many American cities. It was tough, at least I can go to New York. I’m just happy after eight weeks of waiting, I can be with the team.”
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The healing process has been especially frustrating for Gspurning because he initially thought he would be out no more than three weeks.
“It was one of my toughest injuries,” he said. “In the beginning, I thought it was nothing special. As I talked to the doctors more, I understood the injury isn’t an easy one.
“The toughest thing to tell a player is that, ‘Yeah, it will heal, but you have to rest.’ This was the toughest part. You come here to training every day and you’re not allowed to do anything. Tuesday was the first time that I stepped into practice and it was a great feeling. It’s what we’re living for here. It’s great to be back and I’m really enjoying it.”
Gspurning says he’s now fully recovered and is not worried about re-aggravating the injury.
“Never say never, but I’m in a good way now,” he said. “I don’t feel any pain and I feel strong so I’m a little bit tired in this area because I’ve been doing a lot of strengthening stuff, but this is normal.”
Done with the East
One benefit of the unbalanced schedule in 2012 is that teams will do far less traveling for league games, with the Sounders – who will be finished playing Eastern Conference rivals after Sunday – saving roughly 9,000 miles of travel thanks to this year's schedule.
“For us, it’s huge,” Brad Evans said. “Now all these games mean so much more, playing the last 14 against Western Conference opponents. It’s going to be tough, but I think it bodes well in our favor that we don’t have to travel as much.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.