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Originally published April 10, 2012 at 9:18 PM | Page modified April 11, 2012 at 12:12 AM

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Sounders' Michael Gspurning is keeping cool in pressure role

New goalkeeper Michael Gspurning replaced a legend on the field (Kasey Keller) but he's fitting in well and is among the best in MLS.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Gspurning this season

4

Games

14/12

Shots on goal/saves

0.5

Goals against average

2

Shutouts

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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.

Sounders reserves lose 2-0

At Starfire Stadium, the Portland Timbers got a goal from forward Bright Dike and benefited from an own goal by Seattle's Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to win, 2-0, in an MLS Reserve League game Tuesday.

The Sounders reserves dropped to 0-1-1 after going 8-1-1 last season, which was the best record in the West Division. Their next game is Monday at the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Seattle forward Eddie Johnson played the first half as the team tries to get him competitive minutes coming off a hip injury and fitness issues. The Sounders best chance to score came in the 84th minute, but forward Sammy Ochoa's chance was cleared off the line by defender Ryan Kawulok.

Mullan keeps quiet

Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan won't address the media this week in anticipation of his first trip to Seattle after his tackle last April broke Steve Zakuani's leg. Mullan will, however, take questions after Saturday's game, according to a team spokesman.

The Rapids issued a statement that said: "Brian is focused on helping the Rapids earn three points this weekend in Seattle. ... He remains deeply regretful of the incident."

Note

Mauro Rosales (knee) and Adam Johansson (hamstring) participated in Tuesday's practice, but no clarity was offered regarding their availability. Both have missed the past three games and are listed as questionable on the injury report. Hurtado (pelvis) has been upgraded to probable and played in Tuesday's reserve game.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.

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