Sounders are confident in backup goalkeeper Bryan Meredith
Sounders FC's starting goalkeepers have never missed an MLS game due to injury, but that run could end this weekend. Michael Gspurning aggravated a right hip injury Wednesday, which could lead to backup Bryan Meredith starting Saturday against Philadelphia.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — In more than 100 MLS games, Sounders FC's first-choice goalkeepers have never missed a start due to injury.
Kasey Keller sat out just once during the team's first three seasons (he served a one-game suspension in 2009 after receiving a red card), and following Keller's retirement, Michael Gspurning started the first seven league games this year.
That run could be coming to an end.
Gspurning was forced to leave Wednesday's game — a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy — at halftime with a right hip injury and underwent an MRI on Thursday. The results of the scan were not made immediately known, but coach Sigi Schmid said backup Bryan Meredith could be in line to start in Saturday's 1:30 p.m. home game against Philadelphia.
Meredith, drafted 29th overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, was forced into action against the Galaxy without much warning and preserved the shutout in the second half. He said his MLS debut went "swimmingly."
"They only had a few shots, a few crosses, so there wasn't much to do," said Meredith, who played most of the last year with the Kitsap Pumas of the Premier Development League before signing with the Sounders in September.
The steady performance Wednesday reaffirmed the trust of his teammates.
"He looked like a seasoned pro out there," said defender Jeff Parke.
Added midfielder Brad Evans: "I've been confident in him the whole time, ever since he got here. ... When he's on the field, he's a good presence."
Schmid has expressed his faith in Meredith several times in recent weeks and said the 22-year-old is worthy of being a starter in MLS. The coach added that Meredith has committed himself to being a better pro in recent months, particularly by embracing a nutrition/workout plan from fitness coach Dave Tenney.
Meredith's development on the field, Schmid said, was spurred by playing a year's worth of games with the Pumas and has continued through work with goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra. Meredith made his Sounders debut last year in a CONCACAF Champions League game Oct. 18 against Mexico's Monterrey, which went on to win the title.
"Starting (an MLS) game will be a little bit different," said Schmid, "but his nerves are good. He's been with the team for a long time. ... We're happy with him."
Gspurning has been dealing with discomfort in his right hip for a few weeks, but was able to play last week against Chicago. The team wasn't sure of the cause, which prompted the scheduling of a two-phased MRI to get a better determination.
Andrew Weber, another backup goalkeeper, received medical clearance Wednesday after sustaining a high ankle sprain last month. He was a full participant in Thursday's practice, but if he's not able to return by the weekend, MLS pool goalkeeper Steve Spangler could provide depth Saturday against the Union.
• In the first half of Wednesday's game, defender Zach Scott appeared to score his second goal of the season off a 35th-minute cross from midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.
Fists clenched, Scott was ready to celebrate.
"I was going to go crazy," said the 31-year-old, who scored the first MLS goal of his career three games ago against Colorado.
Unfortunately, the offside flag was raised for an earlier shot by Fredy Montero and the goal was disallowed. Scott knew it was too good to be true.
"I'm on the four-year plan," he said with a laugh. "Every four years, I'll score a goal."
• Defender Patrick Ianni (back) and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (quadriceps) were full participants in Thursday's practice and look set to return Saturday after multiweek absences. "I feel pretty confident they should both be ready to go," said Schmid.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers