Sounders FC are hurting for goalkeeper options
Injuries have decimated Sounders FC’s roster, but nowhere worse than in goal, where fourth-option Andrew Weber is the de facto starter after being acquired on loan just last week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — To call Sounders FC’s goalkeeping situation a nightmare is only part hyperbole.
The team’s top three goalkeepers (Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann, Josh Ford) are out injured, and the only one healthy and under contract (Andrew Weber) was acquired just last week on loan from third-division Phoenix FC.
“It’s difficult, to be honest with you,” said goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra. “It’s a very difficult time; it’s one that has kept me up the last couple nights.”
Injuries have decimated Seattle’s entire roster, but nowhere worse than in goal.
Gspurning, an MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist last season, had his forearm in a splint at Tuesday’s practice after getting stepped on in San Jose over the weekend. He was scheduled to meet with a specialist in the afternoon, the diagnosis from which wasn’t immediately known.
Regular backups Hahnemann (hamstring) and Ford (knee surgery) are out, too, leaving Weber in line to start Saturday against Colorado. Seattle native Doug Herrick is set to serve as backup as an MLS pool goalkeeper reserved for emergency situations.
The only time coach Sigi Schmid has had it worse was 2006 in Columbus.
“At one point I was down five goalkeepers, and we actually called a guy out of retirement,” he said.
Schmid then joked he might have to do the same with broadcaster Kasey Keller, Seattle’s goalkeeper from 2009-11.
It might come to that with another injury — and Weber kidded he might wear a football helmet and pads in practice — but the Sounders are comfortable with their options, mostly due to familiarity.
Weber was one of Seattle’s five goalkeepers last year and has other MLS experience. The 29-year-old played well in San Jose after Gspurning went out injured and made one of five MLS Save of the Week nominees.
“It’s unfortunate what’s happened to Mike, but ... you just have to be ready when your name is called,” Weber said. “So here I am, ready to go.”
Schmid likened Weber to a “big insurance policy.”
Dutra added: “Andrew knows this is an opportunity for him, and he doesn’t want to lose out on it.”
Perhaps an overlooked victim in the mass of injuries is 41-year-old Hahnemann, who came out of retirement to sign with the Sounders last August.
Playing time as a backup looked bleak this season after the team was eliminated early in the U.S. Open Cup and failed to qualify for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League later this summer. When the opportunity came via injury to Gspurning, Hahnemann was on the mend, as well.
“I’m truly gutted for the guy,” Dutra said of Hahnemann. “When Mike went down I was like, ‘Wow, this couldn’t have been worse timing.’ ... Timing is so much of the position, luck and timing, and when you’re called upon, you want to be able to have the opportunity to have the job.”
• Patrick Ianni was added to the long list of players with injuries/ailments as he missed Tuesday’s practice with flu-like symptoms.
• Bryan Meredith, another one of last year’s backup goalkeepers, was a newcomer to training Tuesday, but he’s not expected to be a factor in the near term. The 23-year-old spent the past six months playing for IK Brage of the Swedish second division before recently parting ways. Schmid said Meredith could go to third-division Phoenix FC, the team that loaned Weber to the Sounders.
• Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans could be called to the U.S. national team for the knockout round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The federation is allowed to make four changes to its roster following Tuesday’s conclusion of the group stage, and the two Sounders were on the provisionary roster. Schmid said he would talk to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann before any decisions were made, as any other absences would be devastating with Seattle’s personnel woes.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @joshuamayers