Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg out two months because of fractured bone in left hand

07/09/2014 5:15 PM

07/14/2014 3:36 PM

The Sporting Kansas City injury bug has reached the goalkeeper.

Eric Kronberg will miss the next two months after he fractured a bone in his hand at the club’s training session Wednesday morning.

Kronberg dived to save a shot, and when he landed, his finger slammed into the ground. X-rays confirmed Kronberg fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand.

The injury will not require surgery, but it halts a breakthrough season for Kronberg, who is the longest-tenured member of the franchise but had only four Major League Soccer starts before this season.

After a nine-year wait to be a starting goalkeeper, Kronberg has been impressive in his first opportunity. He leads MLS with seven shutouts. His 0.88 goals-against average is best in the league among keepers with at least five starts. Kronberg, the MLS player of the month in June, started all 17 league matches for Sporting KC.

His absence will open a spot for keeper Andy Gruenebaum, who is in his first year with Sporting KC after eight seasons with the Columbus Crew. He’s a backup who provides experience. An Overland Park native, Gruenebaum started 54 MLS matches for the Crew during the 2012-13 seasons, compiling an 18-23-12 record.

In a related move, Sporting recalled Jon Kempin from his loan to OKC Energy FC. Kempin, 21, is likely to serve as the backup goalkeeper with Kronberg sidelined.

Gruenebaum has not appeared in an MLS match this season, though he started both U.S. Open Cup games last month. He shut out Minnesota United in a 2-0 win before Sporting was eliminated with a 3-1 loss to Portland.

In a year in which the team has endured a myriad of injuries and other absences, Sporting KC appeared to be nearing its cleanest bill of health in more than a month. The club welcomed the return of midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Graham Zusi to the lineup Sunday in a 1-1 draw against Chicago, and captain Matt Besler rejoined practice Tuesday.

But Kronberg’s injury ensures the team will start its 18th different lineup in 18 MLS matches when it travels to face Montreal on Saturday.

Kronberg will join defenders Chance Myers and Ike Opara on the injured list. Myers and Opara underwent season-ending surgeries earlier this year.

To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcDowell11.

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