RENTON – Last season, the Sounders FC defense featured three players who had been regular starters since the franchise began play in 2009: Kasey Keller, James Riley and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
This season, Keller and Riley are gone – the former to retirement and the latter to the expansion draft. Hurtado admits this training camp feels different without them.
“It’s different because we played together for three years,” Hurtado said Friday through a translator. “But they’re not here anymore, and now there are some other players who are playing back there who have the same capacity – or possibly even more. And now we just have to focus on getting to know each other and playing well as a team and just move forward.”
One of those new players is No. 1 goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, a 30-year-old from Austria who spent the last five seasons playing professionally in Greece.
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“He is a goalie that comes to us with a lot of experience,” Hurtado said. “In the few practices we’ve had together we’re really getting to know each other. He’s getting to know the way we play, and we’re getting to know the way he plays. We just have to keep working on communicating, and I think it’s going to be great.”
Hurtado was signed as a free agent in 2009, made the All-Star team that season and was voted MLS Defensive Player of the Year.
His 2010 season was hampered by an anterior cruciate ligament injury. He came back last season to start 23 league games.
The Sounders were tested for speed Friday at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton. The fastest time in the 30-meter dash came from trialist forward Darwin Jones, followed by Trinidad 19-year-old Cordell Cato, UW draftee Abdul Aman, former sprint winner Mike Fucito and 6-foot-3 midfielder Christian Sivebaek. “It’s just a measure,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Running with the ball and running without the ball are two different things. … It gives you an idea of where guys fall in the ranked order and how they compare with each other. And also for the guys who have been here, now we see if there is some progression.” … The team will train again today at the VMAC. It will be the final session before the first cuts are made. Schmid said one of the five goalkeepers in camp will be among those released.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer