TUKWILA, Wash. – The first 20 games of the Seattle Sounders’ season have largely been defined by key injuries and subsequent different starting lineups.
But as they get ready to enter the home stretch of the campaign, starting with Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online), they should be as close to full strength as they’ve been all season. The only player with significant playing time who is expected to be unavailable is David Estrada, who broke his foot in early June and is expected to be out at least another three to four weeks.
The latest key player to return to health is goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who head coach Sigi Schmid called “ready” to potentially start.
“We’re hoping this is the weekend for him to come back,” Schmid said. “He’s gone through the weeks of training and the buildup. This is the game we’ve targeted. He’s ready and we’ll look at it and make sure there’s no setbacks between now and then,” Schmid said. “We’ll have some good decisions to make.”
Gspurning has not played since leaving the May 2 game against the LA Galaxy at halftime. While the Sounders initially weathered his absence well, they have since allowed 17 goals in their past 11 league matches.
WATCH: Gspurning makes one-handed stop
In the seven matches Gspurning started, the Sounders allowed just three goals and the team registered four shutouts.
“It’s good to have his voice back there again, to have his presence in the locker room because he’s a veteran guy,” Schmid said. “If we can return to the defending we had at the start of the season, to the goals against average that we had at the start of the season, that will go a long way toward us achieving our goal.”
Also available on Saturday will be Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson, who are coming off appearances in Wednesday’s AT&T MLS All-Star Game. The duo will join the team in Seattle before flying out to Colorado on Friday afternoon.
“They’ll play,” Schmid said. “We wanted them to come here. We didn’t want them to go [straight] to Colorado because we didn’t want to put them into altitude a day early.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.