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SOUNDERS: Seattle prepares for first game on grass

The Seattle Sounders trained on their natural grass field at the Starfire Sports Complex again Thursday, preparing for their first-ever game on grass Saturday when they visit Chivas USA.

The transition was no small matter in Major League Soccer last season, when the four teams that play on artificial turf at home – New England, New York, Toronto and Real Salt Lake – went a combined 11-29-9 on grass.

However, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said he doesn’t expect the Home Depot Center’s natural surface to be a significant issue.

“It’s got dirt underneath it instead of rubber pellets,” he said. “It’ll be good.”

Schmid seems to be giving more thought to the team’s ongoing issue of the week: his goalkeeper situation.With No. 1 keeper Kasey Keller unavailable after receiving a red card last week, Schmid said he hasn’t decided whether Chris Eylander or Ben Dragavon will start this weekend.

However, he said that Eylander seems recovered from his knee injury, so that concern can be removed from the decision.

“We wanted to see how the (Thursday) workout would go with each of them,” Schmid said. “But we feel Chris is healthy, so we can base our decision upon a healthy Eylander versus a healthy Dragavon.”Both contenders are former USL Sounders. Neither has started an MLS game. Dragavon got his first MLS playing time last week as an emergency replacement for Keller. Eylander is still awaiting his MLS debut.Gold Cup tickets

Tickets for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup – including the July 4 doubleheader at Qwest Field featuring the United States national team against Grenada – go on sale today.

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