After 5-1 and 4-1 losses in consecutive games, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said all position options are being considered, including at goalkeeper where Michael Gspurning has been starting ahead of Marcus Hahnemann.
Schmid and goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra haven't yet announced their starting keeper for Sunday at Portland. However, they talked on the topic at length. Here's some of what they had to say:
SCHMIDOn his starting keeper: We’ll talk a little more tomorrow and we’ll decide. After I said after the game, for us it’s important that we find our form back, that we get ourselves together defensively, I think it’s important and we’re evaluating everything in that regard.
On if it's simply a matter of who gives best chance to win: There’s never any decision that’s like that. The decision that you make is what’s best for the team and the club. That’s how you make all your decision.
On if this is the first time the Sounders have had a goalkeeper decision: It might be with a healthy 1 and 2, yeah.
On if it's the soccer equivalent of a quarterback change: I think it’s more a situation like I said to our team: Are we the team that went 14 games undefeated at home, or are we the team that’s taken two bad losses. Is Micahel the goalkeeper who was average basically a goal-against a game, or is he the guy who’s taken nine goals in two games. I think he’s the guy who’s averaged a goal-against a game. I think we’re the team that went 14 games undefeated at home. I think that’s the team we are as well. But it’s a matter of us finding our form again. Sometimes your form is off or you lose a little bit of confidence, whatever the case may be, and sometimes you have to make a temporary move or a temporary adjustment to deal with that.
On if Gspurning's experience and confidence would help him get through this: He does have all those traits. That’s the reason we brought him in, that’s the reason he’s been our No. 1 goalkeeper, and that’s the reason he’s played good games. Like I said, I don’t think it’s any reason to panic. We’re going to evaluate how we are right now, where we’re at, what’s the best decision for right now. But we haven’t lost faith or confidence or anything like that.
DUTRAOn Gspurning's mental state: I think you have to worry about it anytime you take nine in two games. For sure, even the best goalkeepers are going to struggle with that. That’s a tough one to come back from. Whether the goals are your fault, not your fault, it’s still in the back of your mind. You’re the one picking the ball out of the back of the net, so it’s tough.
On if a game on the bench helps or hurts with that: Oh man, that’s a tough one. What makes it better is a good performance in training session, and what makes it better is a good performance in a game, and what makes it better is just getting on with it in training, to be honest with you: moving on to the next play.
On what's going wrong: I’m not sure if it’s something he could do better: maybe reading the play a bit earlier, maybe certain things like that, maybe recognizing the breakdowns a little bit earlier. But again, that’s being nit-picky too. Things are going to break down, and then if you read it right maybe you’ll be able to make the save. If you read it wrong, you’ve got it wrong. But that’s part of the position, too.
On Gspurning's estimation that he's faced 10 to 12 1-on-1 situations in the past couple of games: (He’s been) exposed in the back, and what he’s facing right now is we’re just getting broken down at the wrong times and he’s being called upon a lot in 1-v-1 situations. And anytime you’re put in that situation the attacker has the advantage. Hopefully you get it right and put yourself in the right position, and the guy hits you or you make an unbelievable reaction save, but eventually it’s going to break down.
On whether such decisions are influenced by the time of the season: If we’re in July or so maybe it changes a little bit of your thought process as to how you go about it. But the reality is we’ve taken nine and we’ve got to discuss every position, regardless of if we’ve got three games left to go or not, and the playoffs are right around the corner. We’ve got to get into the playoffs, too. We don’t want to fall into the playoffs because of other results: We have to get results.
On this being the first real starting GK decision in club history: Yeah, in five years, it’s the first time you question who’s going to be your No. 1. It’s not like they’re going to be perfect every game. You keep training hard. But it’s something we’re talking about.
On his role in the decision: Sigi and I will talk about the position whether it’s a good game or bad game. We talk about every position on the field, and obviously with myself working with the goalkeepers we’ll talk about every goal that was give up, every save, and we’ll just go throught it and talk about the process for the next game and who’s going to play, who’s not going to play, whether it’s a left back, right back, goalkeeper. We talk about it. Nothing is a given.