KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sporting Kansas City's run of never starting the same lineup twice this season is likely to continue, with injured goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum expected to miss Saturday's home match against Toronto FC (8:30 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week, TSN2 in Canada).
“I think it'll be hard for him to be ready for this weekend, but it's not an extended thing,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters on Wednesday. “There's no damage. They did an MRI and everything, so it's really going to be based on pain tolerance and we'll see where that goes. That is a day-to-day situation.”
Gruenebaum had to come out for 21-year-old Homegrown keeper Jon Kempin – this weekend's projected starter – at halftime of Sunday's 2-0 away loss to Vancouver. He sustained a right shoulder strain in the 15th minute, while challenging the Whitecaps' Erik Hurtado for a through ball, but Tuesday's MRI revealed no tear.
“I don't know if it's a best-case scenario, but it's definitely a good one and I'll take it,” he said Wednesday. “I'll try to get back as soon as possible. The good news is that we have the best trainers here, and the best staff, and historically, I'd like to think that I heal these things quickly – not like Wolverine, but hopefully somewhat similar.”
Gruenebaum, acquired in an offseason trade with Columbus, had made six straight starts for Sporting after new No. 1 Eric Kronberg broke a bone in his left hand during training.
“Story of my life,” he said. “It's one of those things that it's happened before – I come in, play well and then something happens. But at the same time, I'm going to continue to have a positive attitude, because life's too short not to.”
Kempin made his league debut with the halftime substitution, and earned a Save of the Week nomination for his stop on Darren Mattocks' penalty kick late in the second half. Sporting have called in league pool keeper Tim Melia to back up Kempin if needed on Saturday.
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Kronberg, who still holds a three-way share of the MLS shutout lead with seven, told MLSsoccer.com that he hopes to begin training in earnest again within another two to three weeks.
“I'm wearing a big cast on my hand now when I'm training, but outside of training I'm able to move my hand around and be free without a cast,” he said. “I have a little splint that I just use to protect me during the day, but I'm working on range of motion and getting my strength back in my hand, but it feels good. So I've got an X-ray coming up in two or three weeks to make sure everything's clear, and I'll be back in the mix.”
Still, Vermes said, it could be some time after that before Kronberg is ready to contend for the starting job again.
“It's one thing with getting the [cast] off, and then you've got to start diving around, taking the shots, all that stuff,” he said. “All in all, back in a game? Probably another month.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.