TUKWILA, Wash. — A facial fracture won’t be keeping Jhon-Kennedy Hurtado on the sidelines for long.
The Seattle Sounders center back has been fitted with a protective mask and after practicing in it for the first time on Thursday, he says he’s ready to play.
“It’s a bit strange to be training with something on your face,” Hurtado said through a translator. “But it feels fine and training has gone fine. Luckily it wasn’t anything more serious. But they found a solution, which is a pretty good solution.”
Hurtado suffered the facial fracture on Oct. 7 against the Portland Timbers when he clashed heads with Bright Dike, and how has nasty scar above his right eye to show for it. He managed to finish out that game and was even available off the bench against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, but the Sounders were reluctant to use Hurtado until he at least had a chance to practice in the mask.
“It takes a little bit of time getting used to wearing that and having that on your face,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said, noting that Hurtado could play on Sunday against FC Dallas (9 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). “Sweating in it, is it going to bother your vision? Those are all things that ... we really needed for him to get used to it in practice.”
The mask is similar to those players with broken noses use, but it had to be redesigned so that the pressure from impact went somewhere other than the cheek. All involved seem satisfied that there’s limited danger of Hurtado making the injury worse by playing.
“They feel with the mask that it’s well protected,” Schmid said. “We were hitting him there with it on and he can’t feel anything. It’s just a precaution.”
Hurtado’s availability is of particular interest due to the state of the Sounders’ back line. Adam Johansson is back from international duty, but Zach Scott will miss the game against FC Dallas while he serves his red-card suspension and Patrick Ianni (calf) and Leo González (hamstring) are still nursing injuries.
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.