Columbus Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum is doing everything right these days. His work in goal around Crew Stadium has been impeccable. And now he’s providing a commendable case study in how professional athletes should handle little bumps in the road.
Big style points, I say, for the way he’s tamping down a little All-Star brush fire.
The background here is that Gruenebaum did not get one of two All-Star spots for goalkeepers. Those went to Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen (fan vote) and Chivas USA’s Dan Kennedy (coach’s pick).
Gruenebaum deserved one of the spots. No question. So … how about a little pouting? Or shouting? Or a good, cathartic public venting through the press?
Nah. The Crew goalkeeper kept to the high road. First, he made light of it. From an interview with MLSSoccer.com:
My mom, especially, is upset. She feels like she’s devoted a lot of time to voting. She’s probably the most upset and [my wife] Lacey’s pretty devastated.”
Then he got to the business of being a stand-up guy. He defended Ben Olsen, the D.C. United manager, who is also the All-Star coach. Olsen filled out the fan-voted roster with five additional selections.
First of all, it’s an honor to even be mentioned in the same category, so that’s cool. Dan Kennedy – look at his body of work over the years. I admire and respect his game. He’s an amazing goalkeeper. You can’t really go wrong there, can you?”
He’s absolutely correct, too. Kennedy was the starting choice on my All-Star ballot.
The problem here is more about Nielsen. He’s a quality goalkeeper, of course, but he hasn’t had the same outstanding season Gruenebaum has. It’s not particularly his fault; Sporting Kansas City’s defense simply has not given Nielsen as much work.
But fan voting, as we know, is one part ability and one part popularity contest. So it is what it is.
As Gruenebaum pointed out, none of this is Olsen’s fault.