Sounders FC looking for a home-field spark

Jun 20, 2012, 10:16 AM | Updated: 3:30 pm

The Seattle Sounders have never experienced a worse five-game stretch in their brief franchise history. Not only was the “rave green” winless in that span, but suffered a 4-1 loss at the hands of the expansion Montreal Impact on Saturday.

High-energy midfielder David Estrada is out for at least two months with a broken bone in his foot. Starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is still recovering from a hip injury. No question the Sounders need a spark and some luck to get back in the win column.

The spark will be provided tonight with the return of all-star midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who served a two-game MLS suspension for a hard tackle. Alonso has some extra pep in his step for a goal he achieved off the soccer pitch. Last week he became a United States citizen.

“I’m very happy for that, and proud of myself,” Alonso told me after Tuesday’s practice. “I wanted to get citizenship so I can bring my family to the U.S.”

He told me the hardest part of the process was studying and answering 100 history questions. More difficult has been a five-year isolation from loved ones in his life.

In the summer of 2007, Alonso walked out of a Houston, Texas shopping mall to become a Cuban defector. He knew the consequences of his bold move. It meant he would not see family members for a long time.

Alonso, 26, is working to bring his mother and sister to America. He would also like to compete for the U.S. national soccer team, but that might take some doing.

“They told me I have a chance. I’m not allowed to play for Cuba any more,” he said. “If the opportunity comes, it’s something I want to do. I am very happy for that.”

While Alonso’s return should bolster Seattle’s defense, the Sounders lose starting central defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado for tonight’s game. He received a red card for a hard tackle in the Montreal match. Patrick Ianni is expected to start in his place.

Sounders head man Sigi Schmid told me in the Coach’s Corner show he is changing goalkeepers tonight. Bryan Meredith has allowed nine goals in the past four games, so he’ll be on the bench. Veteran Andrew Weber gets his first start in Seattle’s nets.

“For Bryan, the last couple of games haven’t gone as well as he would have liked,” Schmid said. “As a young goalkeeper, sometimes it’s good to step away. Tonight is Andrew’s turn, and we expect him to do well.”

Schmid is also deciding whether to add Steve Zakuani to the active 18-man roster. Zakuani has recently played in Sounders reserve games as he continues his recovery from last year’s horrific leg fracture.

Sporting Kansas City has the second best record in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. They have tall goal-scoring threats, including Kei Kamara (6-foot-3) and C.J. Sapong (6-foot-1).

Exclusive radio coverage starts at 7 p.m. with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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Sounders FC looking for a home-field spark