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October 19, 2012 at 9:30 PM

POLL: Is Michael Gspurning this season’s MLS Goalkeeper of the Year?

gspurning goy.jpgPhoto credit: Colin Diltz, The Seattle Times

There was enough to talk about after Sounders FC’s 0-0 tie Wednesday against Real Salt Lake.

But one comment that might’ve slipped under the radar was when coach Sigi Schmid was asked about goalkeeper Michael Gspurning following his third shutout in a row (fueled by a couple tremendous saves in the closing seconds).

“It was superb,” Schmid said of Gspurning’s performance. “I think there’s a consensus in this league that … (Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen) is the Goalkeeper of the Year. I think if you look around, Michael Gspurning’s goals-against average is better than Nielsen’s. I don’t know where he is when you look at the amount of shutouts he has to games played, but he’s probably at a higher percentage. I don’t know where save percentage is, but for me, Michael’s been everything we had hoped for and everything we expected of him. For me right now, he’s the Goalkeeper of the Year in this league.

“I think he’s the goalkeeper that’s been the most consistent. We had one bad stretch — that was the stretch where he was injured. When you look at our record when he’s played, I don’t there’s a goalkeeper that can match that record. I think the fans out there and the media in other cities need to do a little bit of research and homework before they cast that vote when that vote comes up.”

Here’s what we know (NOTE: The poll is at the end of the post)…

— The Sounders are 11-3-5 when Gspurning starts (the best record in MLS) and went 3-4-6 when he was out with a hip injury, including a franchise-worst nine-game winless streak. Sure, missing 13 games — 38 percent of the year — should come into consideration for postseason awards, but the record disparity could be an argument in the big Austrian’s favor.

— He has gone 330 minutes since allowing a goal, which is already the 10th-longest streak in MLS this year. A shutout Sunday would give him the season’s longest streak.

— He has had a 335-minute shutout streak earlier this season.

— His 0.70 goals-against average is tops in MLS and on pace for the third-best season in MLS history (Kevin Hartman, 0.62, and Nick Rimando, 0.67, in 2010). Nielsen is second at 0.81.

— His 77.1 save percentage is second best this season to D.C. United’s Bill Hamid 78.4. Nielsen is fifth at 74.5.

— He has eight shutouts, which still ranks fourth in MLS despite missing 13 games. His eight shutouts in 18 full games (it’s really 8.5 in 18.5 games) is the best rate in the league. Nielsen has a league-leading 14 shutouts in 32 games.

— His 54 saves means he makes about three a game, which isn’t all that much. That’s the point, Schmid said. “Here’s the thing: He makes a couple of big saves, highlight-reel saves (Wednesday) and so we think it’s his best game,” the coach explained, “but the reason he doesn’t have to make a lot of those saves is his positioning is good and is solid. As a result of that, he hasn’t been forced into a lot of those saves. I think you have to look at a lot of those games and say, ‘Hey, that was solid and that was good positioning,’ and today he had to make a couple of good reaction saves and was able to come up with them. The low shot that he sort of got his foot on and then wrapped it up, the one late in the game that he deflected around the post, the one he tipped over the bar — I think there are probably four big saves I can think of.”

— When told of Schmid’s endorsement for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Gspurning said: “I’m not thinking about this.”

* * *

What do you think? I trust that you know what GOYs look like and won’t say yes just to say yes…

Is Michael Gspurning this year’s MLS Goalkeeper of the Year?


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