KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jacob Peterson's right shoulder passed its final full-contact test, clearing the way for the winger to return to Sporting Kansas City's 18-man gameday roster as early as Friday's home match against Houston.
Peterson, who has been sidelined for five league matches after sustaining a shoulder sprain on July 28, worked the first half of Tuesday's 1-0 Reserve League loss to Real Salt Lake.
"We wanted to get him some minutes in a regular game," manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com after the match. "It's good to have him out on the field getting knocked around a little bit and see what he feels like. You have to get a feel for what it's going to be like come Friday's game, and this was a good test. Those guys don't care whether he's hurt or not. They're going to play him hard because they want to win."
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Peterson, who was the recipient of several hard challenges during his 45-minute shift, said he had been looking forward to game-level contact.
"It felt good, and the shoulder feels good, which is the most important thing," Peterson said. "I rolled on it a couple of times, and it still feels good. From a fitness standpoint it's still an uphill battle, but it's coming along."
Tuesday's match also saw the return to action of backup goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who had been out since early summer with an ankle fracture. Kempin was sent off in the 61st minute for denying a goal-scoring opportunity after fouling RSL's Emiliano Bonfigli, which set up Real's game-winning penalty. The 'keeper still received good marks from Vermes on his return.
"He's coming along," Vermes said. "He's not where he needs to be yet, because he's still getting a feel for himself. Unfortunately – and we watched the film – [Bonfigli] was offsides. So it goes from missing the call to getting a penalty kick and a red card, and now the kid can't play the next game. That kind of stuff aggravates the heck out of me."
The red card notwithstanding, Kempin was happy to be back in competition.
"I've been training for the past couple of weeks," he said, "but it's good to get a game and get comfortable out there again."
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.