PORTLAND, Ore. — This time last year, Sigi Schmid was touting Michael Gspurning as Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year. Tonight, the normal Seattle No. 1 was on the bench as the Sounders looked to curb their slide against the rival Timbers.
That slide included nine goals allowed in losses to Colorado (5-1) and Vancouver (4-1), prompting Schmid to speculate a goalkeeping change could be in order after Wednesday’s loss to the Whitecaps. The Seattle boss decided to pull the trigger on Sunday, relegating one of Major League Soccer’s best goalkeepers to the bench in favor of the former U.S. international. It’s the first time a healthy Gspurning’s been dropped since signing with Seattle before last season.
For Hahnemann, who joined Seattle in the middle of 2012, it’s only his third start in MLS since leaving Colorado for England in 1999. There he spend 13 years with Fulham, Reading, Wolverhampton, and Everton before return to his city of birth, rejoining the team he played for in the A-League from 1994 to 1996.
Hahnemann allowed a goal to Kalif Alhassan toward the end of Sunday’s first half but make a strong read to come off his line and prevent Darlington Nagbe from converting on a breakaway earlier in the period. As Seattle went into halftime down 1-0, Schmid’s switch in goal had brought a reliability Gspurning had lacked over the last 180 minutes.
Regardless of how tonight’s match ends, Schmid is sure to be asked whether this was a one-night change or a move that Seattle will carry into the postseason. At this point in the season, there’s no time to have a full-blown competition for the Sounders’ No. 1 spot.