From last place to first place and everywhere in between, one of the few constants for Sounders FC this season has been change.
Nearly each game, even when including the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League, has featured a different lineup (the team has doubled up just once). Injuries and national team call-ups amid the regular comings and goings throughout the year have had the roster in a regular state of flux.
The only position absolved of the chaos had been goalkeeper.
But that, too, changed Sunday when Seattle saw its starter benched for the first time in franchise history. In a 1-0 road loss to the Portland Timbers, veteran backup Marcus Hahnemann replaced struggling Michael Gspurning, who had allowed nine goals his previous two games.
“We just felt with Michael it was a situation that sometimes you have to step back and view it from the outside,” said coach Sigi Schmid, a sentiment similar to that expressed when he temporarily benched star forward Fredy Montero in seasons past.
So will this move also be temporary heading into Saturday’s game at FC Dallas?
All Schmid offered after Sunday’s game was, “We’ll see.”
Gspurning had missed games before, this season and last, but never when fully healthy. His predecessor, Kasey Keller, was the team’s unquestioned starter from 2009 to 2011 and missed just one game, due to suspension.
Nine goals, however, couldn’t go without consequences.
Following the change, Schmid praised Hahnemann’s performance, while conceding he didn’t have to make many saves.
Hahnemann said he was “excited to get my chance to get in the team,” after having played only two league games before Sunday since signing late in the 2012 season. And regardless of his role, the 41-year-old Seattle native had a message for the Sounders, especially after Sunday’s loss where they hit the post or cross bar three times, and it seemed the bounces were going against them.
“The only way you can change your luck is through hard work,” Hahnemann said. “That’s how I’ve done it throughout my career. You work your ass off in training every day and you become lucky, not because you’re lucky, but because of the hard work you’ve put in.”
Sounders, Schmid fined
The Sounders have been fined $5,000 and Schmid has been fined an additional $1,000 by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for violating the league’s mass confrontation policy Sunday.
The issue in question came in the 74th minute, after referee Hilario Grajeda issued a red card to Osvaldo Alonso. The call led to aggressive protests from a number of Sounders.
This is the second time the Sounders have broken this rule, which is a point of emphasis in MLS this season. The first was met with a warning.