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Injuries pervade Seattle practice at Qwest

SEATTLE – Injuries, both old and new, dominated talk at Seattle’s training session on Tuesday afternoon.

Coach Sigi Schmid put the team through a 75-minute workout at Qwest Field, the site of Thursday’s nationally televised match against Real Salt Lake.

During that session, a pair of starters from the past weekend went down during the five-on-five drill towards the end of the practice. Mike Seamon injured his knee when he came together with Miguel Montano. Minutes later, James Riley fell to the turf clutching his ankle.

Of the two incidents, Riley’s seemed the more serious. The right back shouted in frustration before he was helped off the field, while Seamon stayed until the end practice.

"It all depends how things react, how things go overnight," Schmid said of his players’ statuses. "The turf was a little sticky today. James went over on his ankle. Mike got stuck a little bit, so it was a little bit more the knee. But I always view those things a little optimistically until I hear worse."

The injuries could be a concern for the Sounders, who have been bitten by the injury bug recently.

Two more regular starters—Nathan Sturgis (right ankle sprain) and Blaise Nkufo (knee contusion)—did not play in New England this past weekend. Schmid said he’s waiting to see how both players feel tomorrow before determining their availability for Thursday night’s game.

The results could just be coincidental, but may have something to do with Seattle’s crowded recent schedule. Since July 4, the club has played 16 matches in two months, including trips to Honduras, El Salvador, Washington and New England. That workload balances out to approximately one game every four days, as Seattle continue to compete in three competitions.

Nkufo, who didn’t travel with the team to New England, declined to speak with the media. He did, however, participate fully in training and may be available Thursday night.

"We'll see how he got through practice today,” Schmid said. “We'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Another player coming off an injury, Mike Fucito, was back in training after returning to the field against New England. The second-half sub, who grew up in Massachusetts and went to college at Harvard, played the last eight minutes of that match as he continues to rebuild his fitness.

It was his first match since April 17, when he scored a goal in stoppage time against Kansas City.

Finally, Schmid gave an update on Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. The 2009 MLS All-Star continues to recover from a torn ACL. Although the Colombian defender is running well and still appears to be in good physical shape, Schmid said the club is taking a cautious approach to give the ligament time to fully mend itself.

When asked about a timetable for Hurtado’s return, Schmid said the Hurtado might be available for the playoffs at the very earliest. However, it’s also possible that Sounders fans may not see him until 2011.

“Right now, he's a valuable player to our club and to our future and we want to make sure we give the ACL enough time to heal," Schmid said.