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July 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Tuesday notes: Michael Gspurning could return as soon as Sunday

gspurning mug 2012.jpgHere are some notes from Tuesday’s practice at Starfire Stadium. The Sounders will host Chivas USA, and old friend James Riley, in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal there at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

* * *

— Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning trained against live play for the first time since suffering a hip strain in May. The 31-year-old, who has missed 12 MLS games, said he felt good afterward, according to coach Sigi Schmid.

“He’s definitely moving closer,” Schmid said. “He won’t play tomorrow, so I can ease (Chivas USA coach) Robin Fraser‘s concerns there, but I wouldn’t rule him out necessary for Sunday. After that for sure he’s probably full in.”

— Schmid was asked if playing in a friendly, say next week against Chelsea FC, would help ease Gspurning back. “We’ll see how he is,” the coach said. “He’s a veteran goalkeeper, a veteran guy. … They have a good sense of where they’re at in their game and where their bodies are at. I know he mistimed one cross at practice and I said, ‘What happened?’ He goes, ‘I need a couple of more practice sessions to get all my timing down on that.’ But outside of that it was good. … He’ll know when he’s ready, and we’ll know.”

— And what has the team missed in his absence? “Obviously you look at our (0.46 goals-against average) at the beginning of the season when he was in goal,” Schmid said. “I think he was a big part of that — not the only part of it, it was a group effort. Certainly his leadership is important for us on the field. And you’ve seen his personality. Just getting his personality in the locker room — in the locker room before the game, in the locker room at halftime, on the field — helps our team, as well. He’s a guy that’s pretty positive. He’s funny, but he’s also serious about what it takes to win on that given day. So he helps us in a lot of ways.”

— There was a reminder that Wednesday’s game has to have a winner as the Sounders practiced some penalty kicks toward the end of training. Gspurning made a save at one point, Schmid said.

— Goalkeeper Andrew Weber looks to be moving around pretty well as he recovers from the groin strain.

— Forward/midfielder David Estrada (foot) and forward Babayele Sodade (knee) were also doing some work on the side.

— Lastly, Schmid wanted to offer some clarification on what was referenced in the seventh paragraph of today’s story on Fredy Montero‘s slump. The quote that I used is listed below and was in the context of Montero’s benching and the team having to get back to a tough, hard-to-beat mentality to break its winless streak.

“For us, part of it was we had to (get) back to our mentality, and that was an important part of it. Fredy is a little bit of a different player in that regard, where he’s more skill-orientated.”

Schmid didn’t mean that to come across as Montero’s style of play working against the restoring that mentality, and wanted it clarified that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

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