Michael Gspurning's name has been associated with the Sounders' newly open goalkeeper position for quite some time, and today the club made it official: the Austrian 30-year-old will take Kasey Keller's spot in goal next season.
Gspurning is an Austrian who has been playing in Greece. He is 6-foot-5. Here is some of his work from YouTube. Here is the release from the club:
Seattle Sounders FC has signed Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, it was announced today. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms were not disclosed. Gspurning will be added to the roster pending receipt of his International Clearance.
Gspurning (pronounced guh-SHPURN-ing), 30, has been capped three times by Austria and played the past four seasons for Skoda Xanthi of Greece's top flight.
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"First off, you don't replace Kasey Keller. What you're looking for is a new goalkeeper," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. "We like Michael's background and pedigree. We like his size. He's got good feet so we can play through him and he's very good on crosses, takes good angles and has good hands."
Gspurning has made 96 career appearances in the top leagues in Austria and Greece and was a two-time All-Star in Greece's Super League.
"There are many reasons I want to come to Seattle," said Gspurning. "It is a very good team that plays in many competitions and Seattle has the best fans in Major League Soccer. When I think about the task in the next year, I feel very confident to come over and have the opportunity to be the new number one, and have success with the Sounders.
"I like to keep goal in difficult situations and make saves. With my height I am good at crosses and a solid goalkeeper. I like to push the team in a positive way. I want to help the Sounders and all of my teammates to play better. I can't wait to come over to Seattle."
The six-foot, five-inch Gspurning played his first several seasons in Austria, beginning in Austria Wien's youth system and then DSV Leoben before joining ASKO Pasching of the Austrian Bundesliga in 2004. He was named the best goalkeeper in Austria's First Division (second-highest league) in 2003/04 and had several call-ins to the Austria U-21 National Team.
Gspurning joined Skoda Xanthi in 2007 and became the first-choice keeper, playing 89 matches in his four seasons, including a career-high 29 in 2009/10. He posted 16 shutouts in 26 matches in 2008/09 and currently holds the record in Greece's Super League for the longest road shutout streak at eight games. He was twice honored as the top foreign goalkeeper, playing in both All-Star games.
At Skoda Xanthi, Gspurning earned his first call-in to the Austria National Team. He made his international debut against Turkey in a 2008 friendly and started two World Cup qualifiers the following year, a 2-1 win over Romania and a 1-nil loss to eventual group-winners Serbia.
Gspurning will report to Seattle for preseason training camp in January.
Transaction: Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) - Signed GK Michael Gspurning Michael GspurningPosition: GoalkeeperHeight: 6'5Weight: 209Birthdate: 5/2/1981Place of Birth: Graz, AustriaHometown (Citizenship): Graz (Austria)Pronunciation: guh-SHPURN-ingLast Club: Skoda Xanthi FC (2007-11)Previous Clubs (chronological): DSV Leoben (2001-04), ASKO Pasching (2004-06)
We hope to get some time to talk with Gspurning and Sigi Schmid or goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra later today. However, for now, there is an Adrian Hanauer quote in the link above, and here are a couple of old -- but relevant -- ones from Schmid and Keller:SCHMID on the search:
Looking and searching and so forth. It’s a process that we’ve begun long ago. I went on vacation with my wife last year – in December – and I was already talking with people about his situation. So it’s something that we’ve been working on for a year. We don’t replace Kasey. We’re looking for another goalkeeper, and we’re looking for the best goalkeeper that we can find that makes it work within our cap, within the league rules, and gives us the most quality we can have.
SCHMID on the big shadow of following Keller: I think that depends on the next guy and what his attitude is and so forth. I think if you hand Kasey’s job to a rookie, or you hand it to a very young goalkeeper, then I think it becomes a big shadow. But I think we’re looking more for a veteran guy, so I think that will help in terms of that transition. Like I said, our objective is not to replace Kasey. You don’t want the guy thinking about, ‘Oh, I hope I can do this as well as Kasey.’ It’s just a matter of going out there and being yourself and establishing yourself.
KELLER on his advice for the next keeper: I think it totally depends on who comes in, and who the club signs and where that goes. I think if it’s somebody with a lot of experience, then it won’t be as big of an issue. If it’s somebody who’s kind of young, and up and coming, and trying to make a name for himself, I’ll just tell him he has to play his game. He can’t try to play like me. Just be humble, be a good guy, and work as hard as you possibly can. He’s got a good coach in (Sounders goalkeepers coach Tom Dutra), and Tommy will work him hard, and I think the organization is looking for the right guy to make that happen. Time will tell, but like I said, I hope he goes and has as much success as possible.