Losing a great goalkeeper and popular locker room leader was surely a blow to Sporting Kansas City, although no one could begrudge Jimmy Nielsen’s decision to retire on top, doing so just hours after SKC lifted the MLS trophy 10 days back.
But what a deal team officials just made, solidifying the position anew with the arrival of Andy Gruenebaum.
Kansas City traded sent a second round pick in the 2016 draft to Columbus for Gruenebaum’s rights; he was out contract at Columbus.
Gruenebaum had been a backup to William Hesmer until 2012, when the Crew’s longtime No. 1 fell to a long-term injury. And the story from there was one of the real doozies of MLS in 2012.
Gruenebaum was nothing less than a revelation, an outstanding netminder at Crew Stadium. Outrage poured forth, in fact, when he didn’t get an invitation to the 2012 MLS All-Star game in Philadelphia. (We poured our share of it at ProSoccerTalk.)
The one knock on Gruenebaum comes in some history of injury; in fact, he was limited to just 21 in 2013.
What a stroke of fortune for Gruenebaum (nicknamed “The Hebrew Hammer”), who goes from a rebuilding team that failed to make the playoffs to league champs, a team set to play in CONCACAF Champions League in 2014.
The super bonus here is that Gruenebaum is a local kid, from Overland Park, Kan. He was an All-American at Blue Valley North High School and the Player of the Year in Kansas.
Columbus officials were willing to let Gruenebaum go because they signed Steve Clark, who is just back into the United States after four seasons in Norway.