TUKWILA, Wash. – The depth-tested Seattle Sounders may be challenged even further this weekend, as starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning could be sidelined with a lingering hip injury.
The Austrian, who left Wednesday’s win over the LA Galaxy at halftime, was set to undergo an MRI on his right hip on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury. His availability against Philadelphia on Saturday (4:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com) is in question, according to Sigi Schmid.
“It was a two-phase MRI because we wanted to get a good look,” the Sounders head coach explained after Thursday’s light training session.
Gspurning first suffered the injury two weeks ago. After sitting out training during most of the bye week, he was able to play during last weekend’s win in Chicago and didn’t seem to be suffering any ill effects. He said he felt something while making a kick against the Galaxy and came out to avoid further aggravating it.
“I don’t think now it’s worse,” Gspurning said following Wednesday’s game. “We will see. Hopefully it’s not so bad.”
Even if the MRI doesn’t find a serious injury, it’s quite possible the Sounders could elect to give their starting goalkeeper some rest. The Sounders will be playing their third match in eight days and are in the middle of a stretch in which they’ll play eight MLS matches in 29 days.
That may open the door for backup Bryan Meredith to get his first career MLS start on Saturday. Schmid stopped short of giving the 22-year-old the nod, but Meredith’s debut performance vs. LA only appears to have bolstered the coach’s confidence in his young goalkeeper.
“It’s invaluable,” Schmid said of the experience Meredith gained on Wednesday. “His nerves are good, he’s been with the team a long time. They are familiar with him.”
Meredith was only called upon to make one save, which came very early in his shift. He also handled the few crosses he faced and generally had an air of confidence.
“Meredith came in and did well,” defender Jeff Parke said. “We did a good job as a team not to give him too many times where he felt uncomfortable. He played solid, talked well and filled in when we needed him.”
Schmid said Patrick Ianni and Alvaro Fernandez, neither of whom have played in recent weeks, were able to fully participate in practice Thursday.
“I feel pretty confident they should both be ready to go,” Schmid said.
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.