Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei will miss Tuesday night's opener of the Western Conference Final against the Houston Dynamo with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday in training.
HOUSTON — The Sounders will have a major obstacle to overcome in Tuesday night’s Western Conference Final opener, as goalkeeper Stefan Frei is out with a strained right hamstring.
Frei started all but one of the team’s matches this season and the squad had hoped two days of treatment here might help him get on the pitch. But the injury, suffered in training on Sunday in Seattle, did not heal enough by the hours before kickoff against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium.
“If it was an MLS Cup final, I would have played him,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “But I’m not going to take a risk and have him do something worse in the first game of a two-legged series.”
Tyler Miller will now get his second start of the season. Miller was in goal in late July when the Sounders fell behind 3-0 in the second half against D.C. United before rallying to win 4-3. Miller only made his first team debut in March of 2016 and has just two MLS appearances total.
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He does have a fair bit of U.S. Open Cup outings, appearing in three last season and two this year. He posted a 2-1 win over Portland on June 13 and took a 2-1 loss to San Jose on June 28.
“It is a big stage for him,” Schmetzer said of Miller. “But the kid, this is what he wants.”
Schmetzer said he’s hopeful Frei can make it back for the second leg of the series Nov. 30 at CenturyLink Field. But he made no promises.
“If he’s healthy, he’ll start, if not we’ll run Tyler out there again.”
One of the issues is that the injury is on Frei’s kicking leg. “It’s just specific movements that he has some issues with,” Schmetzer said. “You need guys 100 percent at this time of the year.”
The Sounders were already facing a challenge trying to win in a city they’ve yet to record a single MLS victory in. Houston lost just once at home all season and defeated the Sounders 2-1 at this stadium last March in the regular season opener.
As for the rest of the lineup, midfielder Victor Rodriguez is available but still not the way back fitness wise after that quad injury. He’ll come off the bench in this one, meaning Joevin Jones moves up to left wing and Nouhou starts at left back.
Osvaldo Alonso is still not back yet from that hamstring strain. He’s unlikely to see action this series, meaning Gustav Svensson is in at defensive midfielder in his spot.
GK Tyler Miller
CB Roman Torres
CB Chad Marshall
RB Kelvin Leerdam
MF Nicolas Lodeiro
MF Gustav Svensson
MF Clint Dempsey
MF Joevin Jones
MF Cristian Roldan
FW Will Bruin