Sounders FC goalkeepers battle to start
Chris Eylander said he played pain-free in Monday's Sounders FC reserve game, hoping to start this Saturday at goalkeeper when Seattle plays Chivas USA for first place in the MLS Western Conference.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle at Chivas USA
in Carson, Calif.,
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TUKWILA — The competition for who will start at goalkeeper for Sounders FC on Saturday began in earnest Monday.
Chris Eylander and Ben Dragavon saw action in Seattle's reserve game loss to the Portland Timbers of the United Soccer Leagues First Division at the Starfire Sports Complex. Eylander played more minutes, working into the second half before Dragavon replaced him. Eylander surrendered a pair of Portland goals, Dragavon one in the Timbers' 3-2 victory.
One of the two will be called upon to step in for Kasey Keller, who drew a red card Saturday in Sounders FC's 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards and therefore must miss this weekend's match at Chivas USA as well.
"Chris, we wanted to play him today, and at first we were going to split time between the two of them, but Chris ended up playing more because Ben got minutes on Saturday," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "We've got to evaluate Chris, how he did today and how he comes back and trains [Tuesday], and then we'll know whether we think he's 100 percent ready to go."
Eylander is coming off a ligament injury in his right knee suffered in early March. He has been unable to participate in all of practices or play in games, making it necessary for Seattle to add Dragavon from week to week as an emergency hardship player because Keller is the team's only other goalkeeper. Dragavon played more than 60 minutes last weekend and gave up the one goal with two saves.
Dragavon is expected to be added to the 18-man active roster for Saturday, a game between the top two teams in Major League Soccer's Western Conference. The question is whether Schmid feels Eylander has full range of motion and can play the position.
Eylander still has to show the coaches more than what they saw Monday. He made a save on a shot but couldn't get back to his feet in time to block a follow shot on the Timbers' first goal.
Eylander said he hadn't felt so good in quite a while.
"It was good to get out there and see a full live game," he said. "Not the result you'd like to have, but as far as how I saw the game and the decisions and some of the shots they had, it was just good to get in there and get that experience."
Eylander, an Auburn native who led the USL First Division in saves in 2007 and 2008 with the former Sounders, expects to participate in all of the goalkeeper drills in practice this week, "as if I was 100 percent," he said.
Striking the ball on goal kicks was something Eylander was concerned about heading into Monday, but he said he felt no pain doing them.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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