Keeping cool under pressure
New Sounders goalkeeper among best in MLS
Friday, April 13, 2012
TUKWILA — Interesting, it seems, that a 6-foot-5 goalkeeper replacing a local legend would seek more attention.
That’s Sounders FC’s Michael Gspurning.
When asked before the season to pick color preferences for his jerseys, he went with bright yellow as his first choice. And for his second? Pink.
“Every club has adidas, and the goalkeepers all look the same,” Gspurning said. “I wanted (to stand out).”
The message: Come look. Come watch. He has nothing to hide.
And his performance has backed that up.
Gspurning has allowed two goals in four MLS games — on a penalty kick and an MLS Goal of the Week winner — and has proved to be a more-than-able replacement for Kasey Keller, who retired after last season. But while Sounders FC’s new era at goalkeeper is off to a successful start, no one within the team is surprised.
“It’s the guy we expected,” said coach Sigi Schmid.
“It was important, as I’ve said, to bring in a veteran goalkeeper because the expectations were going to be demanding just because it’s tough to follow somebody like Kasey, who’s a legend.
“He had the maturity and the ability, and he has his own style. It’s different than Kasey’s, but that’s OK, as long as you keep the ball out of the net.”
Gspurning has done that, and the numbers prove it. He ranks third in MLS in goals-against average (0.5) and fifth in save percentage (86). His confidence, noticeable from his first day, is growing with each game.
In last week’s road shutout of D.C. United, the big Austrian might have had his best performance of this young season. He made four saves, none of which were uncomfortable, and was dominant in the air, punching away several corner kicks.
Teammate Jeff Parke said defenders love it when goalkeepers take matters in their own hands when it comes to crosses. Goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra said that’s just a part of Gspurning’s game.
“It’s one of the things we liked about him when we were scouting him — he’s very daring,” said Dutra.
An appropriate adjective for his color choice, as well.
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