Sounders FC

Backup Boss prepared to add instant defense for Sounders

It’s almost the nature of the Major League Soccer season that Terry Boss would make his Sounders’ debut because of dire straits.

Top goalkeepers generally stay in goal every game, so when Boss was a halftime substitution at Dallas last week, it meant something had happened to starter Kasey Keller. And that meant Boss didn’t have much time to think about the challenge ahead.

“That’s what you’re prepared for as a backup goalkeeper,” Boss said this week. “Obviously, I wish the best for Kasey. We’re friends, and when you see a guy go down like that or get knocked in the head your heart goes out for him. But you’ve got to be ready, and that’s why we prepare ... so when you do step in your nerves are good, you’re confident, you can make good decisions and help your team win.”

Keller was hurt in the first half when he collided with Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham in the penalty area. A penalty was called, but the dazed keeper stuck around to face the penalty kick.

“I knew I was hurt,” Keller said. “I was over taking water to delay as much as I could, trying to get my bearings back. I was just hoping for (my head) to clear.”

It didn’t. And while Keller played out the remaining 18 minutes of the first half, Boss made his MLS debut at the start of the second.

“I was losing some pretty good vision in my right eye, which was giving me a pretty good equilibrium problem and just focusing,” Keller said. “I just didn’t want to be a liability to the team, and that’s what I was most concerned about in the close game that it was. Yeah, I can tough it out, but for who’s sake? And Terry came in and did a solid job and was just unlucky we weren’t able to finish the game out.”

The game ended in a draw, with both Dallas goals coming on penalty kicks.

Despite his physical distress, Keller guessed right on Cunningham’s first penalty kick, but couldn’t quite prevent the goal.

“I thought I had it,” Keller said. “I got a little touch to it. It was a shame. It would have been nice to have been able to come up with the save for the team. But we came back. We got back in the lead, and were a little unfortunate to concede that second foul there.”

With Seattle protecting a 2-1 lead, Dallas was awarded a second penalty kick in stoppage time. Once again, Cunningham took it.

And that forced Boss into a guessing game: Would Cunningham go low and right again, as he had the first time? Or would he alter his approach?

“I think it’s a little bit of a crapshoot,” Boss said. “Historically, I think in the last 13 or so, he went six or seven each way. Kasey got a little bit of a touch on it on the right side, so I’m thinking maybe he’s looking to switch sides after not hitting it as well as he wanted to. So, obviously it didn’t work out that way.”

Keller said he is feeling better this week, and he is expected to start Saturday when unbeaten Columbus visits Qwest Field.

However, next time Boss is called upon, he’ll have something he didn’t have before: MLS game experience.

And he’ll still have what he’s had since joining the club as a free agent last June: the confidence of his coaches and teammates.

“He’s a competitor, that’s for sure,” midfielder Brad Evans said Thursday. “He wants to get better, and he wants to play. He’s physical. He’s a good talker, and he knows what to do. I feel confident in having him in the back line.”

Added time

The Sounders made a Make-a-Wish Foundation dream come true Thursday for a little boy from Bellevue. The players met with the boy, named Erik, in the locker room after practice and returned with him to the pitch at Qwest Field where a greeting awaited him on the video screen. ... These have been eventful days for Sounders midfielder Sanna Nyassi, who was honored as the MLS Works humanitarian of the month for his work with the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign, and then received his first start against Toronto on Sunday. “It was a good week for me,” he said. “... I tried to help back. I was really proud of that.”

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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