Bryan Meredith hadn’t taken the field in a competitive match since August 6.
In that match, the 22-year-old shut out the Laredo Heat at Bremerton Memorial Stadium in the nationally televised Premier Development League championship match as the Kitsap Pumas lifted the PDL trophy with a 1-0 win.
On Tuesday, he was back on the field. This time it was against Mexico’s Monterrey in front of over 15,000 at CenturyLink Field in the CONCACAF Champions League.
He was confident entering the match. And despite allowing a goal in just the third minute, didn’t have that confidence shaken throughout the match.
“Three minutes into the game, giving up a goal is definitely not the way I wanted to start,” Meredith said. “After that I settled down a little bit – it got the nerves out of me, really. I felt pretty confident the whole rest of the game.”
Throughout the rest of the match, he calmly collected crosses and commanded control of the box like a savvy veteran. He only made one save, allowing two goals, but he can hardly be faulted for those opportunities.
“For a guy in his first game, and this was a fairly big game, I thought he was composed,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I didn’t think he could do much on either goal. His feet were good. His composure was good. He came out and collected crosses. He was fine.”
The game wasn’t vital to the Sounders – they’d already clinched advancement to the quarterfinals. But a win or draw would have placed them into the quarterfinals as a No. 1 seed, giving them home-field advantage in the aggregate-goal series. So it was by no means a throw-away contest. The club went into the match confident in Meredith and that same self-assurance was shown by Meredith.
In 19 matches in the PDL, he allowed just nine goals and had a 0.475 GAA while leading the Pumas to the national championship. He was even very solid in a 2-1 defeat to the Sounders FC in the US Open Cup.
That experience gave him a base to build upon in the month since he returned to the Sounders after backup goalkeeper Terry Boss was shut down with his second concussion of the season. The month back in training also gave the team an opportunity to get comfortable with him behind them.
“He’s calm back there. He doesn’t really shake or quiver. He’s a strong, big lad out there,” defender Jeff Parke said. “All-in-all, we put him in bad spots tonight. As a back four, we had a good game. We just made two bad mistakes that cost us the game.”
There’s no telling when Meredith’s next opportunity will come with Kasey Keller manning the net for Seattle and the playoffs now just 10 days away. He has shown already though that he won’t back down from any opponent thrown in front of him.