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Originally published December 7, 2011 at 1:31 PM | Page modified December 8, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Sounders sign new goalkeeper, Austrian Michael Gspurning

Sounders FC replaces Kasey Keller by signing 30-year-old Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was about an hour away from bedtime in Europe when he began a conference call after Sounders FC announced his signing.

In Seattle, it marked a new day in goal for the city's MLS franchise.

Kasey Keller is going to cast quite a shadow for the Sounders. That's one reason Sounders FC saw an advantage in signing a veteran goalkeeper like Gspurning, a 30-year-old from Austria who has played the past five seasons in Greece's top league. The fact Gspurning is 6 feet 5 is only part of the reason he stood out in Seattle's search for a successor in goal.

"You don't replace Kasey Keller," coach Sigi Schmid said. "You look for another goalkeeper."

The Sounders believe they've found one in Gspurning. He has three caps for international appearances for the Austrian national team.

Keller, 42, was the Sounders' goalkeeper for the franchise's first three seasons, but he retired.

Gspurning is expected to be the Sounders' starter, according to Schmid. The Sounders' courting of Gspurning began last summer, when the franchise brought the goalkeeper and his wife to see a game. The professionalism of the club, the enthusiasm of the crowd and the caliber of the game made an impression.

"I was pretty impressed with the quality of the football," Gspurning said, pausing to catch himself. "Sorry, soccer."

Gspurning's size lends to a more aggressive approach in coming out to defend crosses, and he is also more comfortable having balls played back to him and using his feet.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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