After making his first MLS appearance on Wednesday and holding the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy scoreless for the second half of a 2-0 Sounders FC victory, Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith recorded his first MLS shutout in his first start on Saturday in a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union at CenturyLink Field.
Meredith was hardly tested on the stat sheet, making just one save in the 77th minute when he dove to his right to snag a slow-moving shot from Lionard Pajoy. However, his command of the box was one reason the Union were unable to generate any danger in the final third.
“Bryan’s good on crosses. He came out and had a couple good punches,” said defender Marc Burch, who helped the Sounders to their fifth shutout of the season to run their unbeaten streak to five matches.
Meredith was no stranger to pressure, though, so filling in for the injured Michael Gspurning – out 2-3 weeks with a hip injury – was not a problem for the 22-year-old Monmouth University product.
He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, but did not make the Sounders FC’s opening day roster. He continued to train with the team while also ferrying across to Bremerton to train and play with the Kitsap Pumas of the PDL (fourth division). There, he squared off with the team that drafted him in the US Open Cup, having an admirable performance in a 2-1 loss for the Pumas. However, he carried the Pumas to the PDL title, earning a spot back with the Sounders when backup Terry Boss went down with a concussion that eventually forced him to retire.
He took advantage of that opportunity too, making his first Sounders FC appearance in a CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against the defending champions, Monterrey, who would go on to win their second straight CCL title.
After those rigors, starting in front of 38,399 at CenturyLink Field on Saturday was much less stressful than it could have been for a young player making his first career MLS start.
“It was a lot of fun – very exciting,” Meredith said. “I wasn’t too nervous. It was a relatively easy game for me. The back four didn’t really allow much through and I don’t think I saw any shots on target so I think it was a good way to start my first game.”
In the absence of Gspurning until at least the match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 19, that will mean two more opportunities for Meredith to start – Wednesday on the road against FC Dallas, then back at home on Saturday against Real Salt Lake. With 135 shutout minutes to his credit and a sturdy defense in front of him, Meredith looks to keep the Sounders winning streak alive as they soldier through a stretch of five games in 15 days.